15.2 miles (Miles 342 – 357.2)
Cajon Pass – Gobbler’s Knob
We took our time getting going this morning and it was really nice. We slept in until about 7:30, mosied down to the hotel lobby for breakfast, resupplied food, did a few more random chores, and I even had a beer. It was a really weird midmorning craving I thought I’d just give in to.
Aloha dropped us off around 11:00 and we finally got hiking. We strolled under the huge I-15 overpass, and a short while later we walked through a giant culvert where trains go over – one even went over when we were inside – it was amazing how quiet it actually was!
Then we climbed. We got ourselves back into the mountains, looking back down on the freeway and train tracks – all busy with silent, ant-sized 18-wheelers, cars and long trains. Somewhere during our climb we also crossed over the San Andreas Fault. I wondered if that was the reason for the huge, smooth, slanted boulders we were looking down upon. I also wondered what the heck I’d do if there were an earthquake. I’ve never been in one before, and it would probably be pretty freaky while on a mountainside ridge!
Our big excitement for today was all the talk about a short, but optional detour of the PCT to avoid a section of poodle dog brush. We’ve encountered it once before around mile 230-ish. I learned today that it lays dormant until a burn, then it pops up everywhere in the old burn area and can stick around for up to 10 years! Crazy-nasty stuff!
It was a big decision to either take the 4.4-mile section of the PCT (our maps described the poodle dog as “unavoidable when in bloom”) or the steep, dirt jeep roads that paralleled the trail. We know other thrus have gone through the trail section already, so we thought we’d risk it. Thankfully the stuff wasn’t blooming yet; we were able to avoid most of it by doing the poodle dog dance. I kept my trekking poles up in the air to keep them from contamination, and I’d step around one bush very carefully, then swing to the other side and take a large step over and around the next one. There were only a couple of spots when it was on both sides of the trail, and I think a tiny bit of my pack may have been in contact. Hopefully all is well. We’ll find out in a couple of days. Scary stuff!
It was a shorter day due to the time we got going this morning, but after the slow and gradual climbing, and a 4-mile stretch watching every single piece of green vegetation and trying not to touch anything, we left ourselves both physically and mentally tired. We got to a water cache at about 5:45, filled a bottle each and hiked another mile. We’re camped on an opening with neighbors! We’ve reconnected here with Sharkbite, Faucet, Pins, Logan, Ellie and Luke. I think they’re all heading into Wrightwood tomorrow. We truck on to at least the base of the climb up Mt. Baden-Powell, which is 9,500 feet in elevation! Woo-hoo!