Back in the Saddle

Vincent Gap to Wrightwood
(14 miles, +3,500/-4,200 feet).

Ever since Half Cookie rolled her ankle and we had to get off trail at Vincent Gap, I’ve had my eye on the part of Section D of the PCT between there and Cajon Junction.  Today I got a chance to hike some of it with my buddy BarnFinder.

He has taken a new job which has really cut into his hiking schedule, so he was a little nervous about being out of shape.  But we did great!

On the drive this morning we got lost on our way to Vincent Gap, but as it turns out it was perfect because we arrived just in time to start hiking at exactly that perfect moment when you can just barely see the trail without a headlamp.

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That perfect moment

We started the morning with a decent climb, which was great because it helped us counteract the cool morning chill.

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Here we go
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Now we’re warm

The sky turned pink and then the sun rose to light the tippy top of Mount Baden-Powell.

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Cotton candy horizon
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Good morning Baden-Powell!
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This is fun!

Although this part of the PCT is thick with trees, every once in a while we would great views of the Mojave.

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Mojave view

Around 8:30am we stopped at Grassy Hollow Visitor Center for a snack and a stretch.

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Let’s keep walking to Mexico!

I have to say that the highlight of today’s hike was the view of Mount Baden-Powell.  Everywhere we turned, there it was, and I loved it!

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JimmyJam admires Baden-Powell
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Peeking through the forest

We passed a lot of ski lifts today, and some of the resorts had heavily guarded ponds that they use to make snow when Mother Nature doesn’t provide.

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Just like the Sierra?

I was really surprised how shady the PCT was here.  There was only one section near the turnoff to the Acorn Trail where it opened up into a chaparral meadow.

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BarnFinder in the Chaparral
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Coming down the hill

Soon we hit the National Forest Boundary and headed off the PCT down towards Wrightwood.

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Bye bye!
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Can you spot BarnFinder?

The trail down to Wrightwood was steep but not too bad.

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Wrightwood in the distance
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All done!

About a quarter mile before reaching the trailhead, I fired up Uber and saw there were cars available to take us back to our car, but by the time we got down that was no longer true.  We walked into town and had a lovely Mexican lunch (we were ravenous!) and then tried Uber again, but no luck.

So we headed to the town gas station to see if we could get a ride, and sure enough the very first person I asked said yes.  He was a local young man in his 20s who was thinking of hiking the AT, and he also stopped to pick up a southbound thru-hiker named Nope.

Nope looked lean and mean, and he was full of stories about surviving an early snow in the Sierra.  We enjoyed our ten minutes with him and then dropped him off at Inspiration Point before heading up to Vincent Gap.  Remarkably, it will probably only  take him a couple of weeks to reach Mexico!

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