Pacific Crest Trail Journals

Highway 173 to Agua Dulce

May 21 – May 30, 2010

After a surreal trail vacation in San Diego for my graduation, my sister dropped my back on the trail and I resume my life as a PCT thru-hiker. I resupplied in San Diego for 6 days of food, enough to get me to Agua Dulce without stopping in Wrightwood, and set back out on the trail. Two significant detours were worked in the PCT this year in order to avoid fire-damaged sections of trail, the Sheep Fire detour and the Station Fire detour, both of which are in the section of trail between my graduation dropoff point and Agua Dulce. After an obligatory stop at the I-15 El Cajon Pass McDonald’s, I quickly reached the first detour and got my first taste of road walking. Initial feelings on road walking: inferior to trail walking but not altogether unenjoyable. Having a perfectly flat surface to walk certainly lets the eyes wander more.

From the road walk I ascended to the ridgecrest in the mounts above and cowboy camped at Guffy Campground under clear skies but decent winds. I awoke the next morning to the realization that the clouds had descended upon my campsite and I was quickly getting wet. I threw my gear together in a hurry and fled the campground just after the sun had risen. The trail quickly dropped and took me out of the clouds before reaching a pass just before a several thousand foot climb up Mt. Baden-Powell. From the pass the trail consisted of several dozen switchbacks which quickly became lost in snow. Abandoning the trail I simply climbed straight up towards the highest point and reached the summit in relatively good time. The trail dropped down several thousand feet (and out of the snow) after the peak to where I made camp at Little Jimmy Campground, just several miles before the beginning of the 47 mile long (and 37 miles of road walk) Station Fire detour.

I cowboy camped (sans tent) at Jimmy Campground, just as I have almost every night along the trip so far. So far this strategy had worked out great because it saved me the time of setting up my tent and it hadn’t rained. This night, however, it rained and I awoke at 3 a.m. to find that I was sleeping in a soaking wet sleeping bag. I threw up my tent as quick as I could, crawled inside with all my gear, and slept for another 5 wet hours before I awoke again to another hiker asking me if I felt like getting off the mountain and out of the rain. I replied that “Hell yes!” I did want to get out of there, packed up my gear, and set out in the rain with my companion for the length of the detour, Picker. We quickly got out of the rain, past Devil’s Punchbowl (the only good thing about the detour) and onto the paved road section of the detour. Our first day of hiking the paved road section was greatly improved by several passerbys who gave beer and cookies. After hitting the small town of Little Rock for some McDonald’s we night hiked a few more miles and made camp in a wash alongside the road.

The second day of road walking along the Station Fire detour was long and uneventful. We finally arrived at a KOA campground just 10 miles before Agua Dulce (my next resupply) and were able to camp out for free on the lawn. I rushed into Agua Dulce the next morning, grabbed an amazing lunch at the local Mexican restaurant and then headed to the Saufley’s, the local and widely known trail angel. I spent the rest of the day and the following day there and remain inspired by the generosity displayed by the Saufley’s. What kind of people not only offer hikers the ability to have their clothes washed but refuse to let the hikers do it themselves???

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