PCT Day 25: Wrightwood and Starting Baden-Powell

May 13, 2022

Wrightwood to Inspiration Point at mile 369.3 to campsite near mile ~376

6.7 miles

I wake up when everyone starts rustling. No! I think. It’s only 6:30! It’s a town day, go back to bed! But it’s too late. They’re on the move. I get up from the squishy floor mattress and change out of laundry clothes and into my miraculously clean hiking clothes, pack up my bag, assess my resupply needs, and have a cup of coffee and a muffin. We chat with Tiptoe and Hot Pocket, two other hikers staying at the house. When Greg comes into the living room, we take a group photo so that we can remember this absolute legend. I give Wilma the dog some very good pats.

Left to right: DLT, Catless, Greg, me, and Andy

When we’re all ready to go, Greg drives us to the Evergreen Cafe, an adorable hole-in-the-wall diner. The main feature of interest is the stuffed owls hanging from the ceiling that are on a pulley system: when the door opens, they all go up, and when it shuts, they come down. It is nearly as exciting as the massive breakfast we consume. I thoroughly enjoy my eggs, sausage, home fries, and biscuit covered in a veritable sea of gravy. I have two cups of coffee, which puts me in a pleasant state of wakefulness one step below shaking.

After breakfast we resupply at Jensen’s, the grocery store. It is the most hiker-friendly place I’ve ever seen. There are picnic tables set up out front with power strips labeled “PCT Hiker Charging Station.” In the store, there are entire endcaps with PCT hiker labels featuring our favorite staples like tuna packets, ramen, Knorr rice sides, Pro bars, Clif bars, and energy chews. They even have fuel canisters and free snacks for hikers! This time, I manage to scoot out with a $54 resupply for 4.5 days. I’m proud of myself until I realize that I completely forgot to get candy. Hey ho. You can’t win them all.

Andy is buzzing to go back to the trail after that. He asks me how much I have left to do, I tell him an hour minimum, and he decides to find a ride on his own. Beetle does the same. Our plan is to camp right beneath Mount Baden-Powell, but knowing those two, they will probably go farther. The “hike your own hike” is really coming into play now. It’s stressing me out wondering how it will affect the tramily, but I just have to trust that we’re going to end up back together up the trail.

After Andy and Beetle head out, I go to the hardware store with DLT and Catless (Rob’s new trail name, in case you forgot). This is another hiker-friendly spot. If you sign their trail registry, you get a free PCT pin! They also have a lovely collection of stickers, magnets, and other knickknacks, including some beautiful pins depicting some of the wildlife found along the trail. One of my favorites so far is the Stellar’s Jay, and I buy a pin of one. I also buy a bear for Petra, who is about to catch back up with us today!

DLT and I go to the post office to send some letters, then I get a text from Petra: she’s heading to town! I run back to the grocery store to pick up something I forgot, and when I get back to Mountain Hardware, she’s there with DLT and Catless! I give her a huge hug and then present her with the pin. Her reaction is priceless. The Turbo Twats (did I ever mention that this is our group chat name? Long story.) are slowly coming back together!

We grab lunch at the Grizzly Cafe and work on some phone-based admin for a few hours until it’s after 3 and we really need to get back to the trail if we’re starting our Baden-Powell ascent tonight. DLT calls Greg, who picks us up and drives us back to Inspiration Point. Thank you for everything, Greg and Wrightwood! What an excellent hiker town.

Back on the trail, we climb for a bit until it levels out in a forest of towering pine and fir trees. I walk with DLT, and it feels quiet, calm, and unhurried as we cruise the four coniferous miles. I see a Stellar’s Jay twittering in the trees. Baden-Powell towers just across the road. The trail dips down sharply into a parking lot, where there is a water cache, picnic tables, and, luxuriously, a Forest Service pit toilet. We make use of all of them, and then start heading up the hill towards our camp for the night.

The grade is aggressive. Not AT level, but not Swarthout Canyon chill, either. DLT’s and my plan is to go to the campsite a mile from the top, but as we start climbing, I wear out quickly. We get water from Lamel Spring, where we meet up again with Petra, Catless, and Chicken (another Czech!). Petra and Rob originally didn’t want to go as far as DLT and me, but what ends up happening is that we spot a few hikers at a campsite with the most beautiful sunset, and I decide that I’m done. DLT and I set up for cowboy camping. Meanwhile, Petra and Catless pass us, heading farther up the hill. Whatever. We’ll catch them tomorrow morning. I am simply done with hiking today.

It’s my first night of the entire trail camping without Andy. It’s weird. It feels unnatural. Who’s going to make fun of me for tripping over nothing and let out an exasperated “Oh my GOD” when my water bottles fall out for the millionth time? He’s so much faster and capable of such bigger miles than I feel like I can do right now. He texts me saying that Baden-Powell is awesome but has some snowy patches. I knew he’d go up today. Hopefully we‘ll catch him (and maybe Beetle, but it’s doubtful) tomorrow.

It’s cold at this elevation, but not as cold as I was expecting. The liquid orangey gold of the sunset makes me feel sweet and right. LA is lighting up the sky tonight. I’m ready for a summit sunrise in the morning. Good night, Pacific Crest Trail.

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