Pacific Crest Trail Thru Hike: Wrightwood to Aqua Dulce

After some big days and a foot scare, we ended up taking a pair of full zero days at Jeff’s house, a local trail angel with a twang in his voice and a Brett Favre motif; Levis and a steady, unwavering gaze. Jeff and his two kids, are some of the nicest people I have ever met. Without question, they took Finna and I into their home, along with a couple other hikers, and a few trail rats. One of the latter ended up ‘sleep walking’ and pissing on the floor. Though a herculean amount of alcohol and hash will afford you the same consequence as sleep walking. I’m just saying.

From a tangent in a conversation, I mentioned to some hikers that I never shot a gun. Jeff looked up calmly and asked if I would like to. At first , I assumed he was joking, but soon realized he was quite serious. The next thing I new I had a tiny .22 caliber handgun in my hand and I was taking aim.  When I say tiny, the thing looked like a toy, but be assured it was the most badass thing you would have ever seen- trust me.

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We left Wrightwood well rested, but my feet still hurt pretty badly, and the swelling in my left one, immediately came back after the first day.

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We climbed up and over Mt. Baden Powell, who’s name comes from the founder of the Boy Scouts. He was a lord, and to explain his level of British, bearded, badassery, I can only say that he would have tied Ghenghis Khan’s little fu man choo with one hand while, and knocking out Muhammad Ali with the other- all while enjoying a damn fine cup of tea. The mountain with his namesake is a moderate climb up to a 9400 foot summit and a beautiful view.

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Little Jimmy Spring, a large and thus popular camping spot, was very crowded when we arrived and I had to have a stern conversation with an old lady about personal space and being childish. I never thought I’d call a 60 something year old childish, and then wish her a good night. You gotta adapt baby!

I was not a fan of the trail leaving Wrightwood. For one, you cross Highway 2 about a dozen times and for another, the trail itself was much more monotonous and lacking in any real appeal. There was also a detour which involved road walking and a tricky trail junction (it’s not that tricky I was just an asshole and hiked 7 miles in the wrong direction).

We slept outside of the Mill Creek Fire station after a long slog thru Poodle Dog Bush infested, shadeless nonsense that I wash my hands of as I write this. Let’s just say I’m glad that part is over. The night at the fire station was laughably uncomfortable. The Sana Ana winds, which are supposed to be blowing in September (thanks republicans), reared her ugly head and gave me a lovely sand blasting all night.

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The following day was more of the same, Poodle Bush, no shade, and some road walk detours. We stopped at an old juvenile prison camp, and explored it’s burn ruins. The Station Fire had ravaged the land and had not spared this building. There was evidence of melted beds and desks. Only concrete remained unscathed. It looked as if they all just got up and left.

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We hiked 26 miles to the Acton KOA campsite, but not before meeting Coppertone,  who gave me a big bowl of Ice Cream. The heat of the day can eat shit when I have ice cream. Ice Cream armor.

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Sleeping at the Acton KOA was interesting to say the least. For one, it was the first time I really felt townies trying to take advantage of hikers. We were lied to about the hours of certain restaurants so we would buy the overpriced crap at the camp, and a few guys were asking for ‘gas’ that amounted to about $20 bucks per 3 miles. Also, a lion kept waking me up. No, not a mountain lion, I’m talking about the king of the freaking jungle. Apparently, a game preserve was nearby, where animals used in the movie industry are kept.

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It was 10 miles to the Saufley’s or Hiker Heaven. The name could not be more spot on. Hiker Heaven is a large plot of land with a house for the family, and at least 5 trailers and a few dozen cots for hikers. There home has been permanently changed for hikers. They have a computer station tent, a donner clothes tent, where you can get clean clothes while they do your laundry for you, and boards of information about food, mailing packages, rides to the doctor/REI/trail, hiker humor and water reports. I spent my time lounging on comfy couches, watching movies, and just chilling.

I love trail angels!

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