Bulletproof PCT

Wrightwood to Cajon Junction
(24 miles, +3,500/-6,700 feet).

Today I had the opportunity to finish up the part of Section D that Half Cookie and I missed when we had to leave trail early last May.  It was a gorgeous day starting out in the low 30s and peaking somewhere in the 50s, and I had the trail all to myself!  It was also my first 20+ mile day since that same trip with Half Cookie.

It felt good to hike sunrise to sunset once again!  I was a little worried about my knees, especially with all the downhill today, but I took breaks every 3-4 miles and that seemed to do the trick just fine.

I showed up at Cajon Junction around 6am and got a very friendly Uber driver to drop me in Wrightwood.  There are very mean “no trespassing” signs on the road to the trailhead, so I told the driver I would walk the last bit of the road myself, which was fine.  It was cold, but within 10 minutes I took off my gloves and wind jacket and hiked the rest of the day in just a T-shirt.

The first couple of miles were on the Acorn Trail, winding through dark forest and ascending switchbacks about 1500 feet.

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That way
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Sunrise on the Mojave
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Morning light hits the trees
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Almost there
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Back to the PCT!

I took a break once I got back up to the PCT, long enough to stretch and devour some raisins and almonds.

On the trail again, I got nice views of Baden-Powell as I circumnavigated below Wright Mountain.

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Looking back to Baden-Powell

At the end of a forest road there was a campsite with amazing views over the Mojave and a PCT sign that had been used for target practice.

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Looking north

The trail started to descend on the Blue Ridge, in and out of forest and around orange sage hillsides that almost glowed against the blue sky.

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Beautiful autumn sage

As I approached Gobblers Knob I left the forest behind me and the views really started opening up.

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View to the east
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Dawson Peak

The vegetation became dryer and more desert like and as I headed further east I finally got a glimpse of 10,000 foot Mount Baldy to the southwest.

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Yucca
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Mount Baldy in the distance
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A rocky traverse

Soon I entered the zone devastated by the Blue Cut fire from last year.  I always enjoy walking through burn zones because I find the shapes fascinating and I love seeing how Nature bounces back.

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Your next stop….  The Burn Zone!
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Charred yucca plants
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A decimated hillside
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Bouncing back!
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Autumn foliage
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The dreaded poodle dog bush
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A gorgeous burn zone invader

Around noon I noticed a white substance on the trail.  Frost!  It surprised me because I felt perfectly warm while hiking in and out of the sun.

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Colder than I thought

For most of the day I followed the Blue Ridge and had views to the north of another ridge on the other side of the San Andreas Fault, which runs through Lone Pine Canyon below.

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The other side of the fault
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Looking back at the PCT
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Lovely shadowed folds

Near the trail I spied an abandoned insect nest and wondered at its hexagonal symmetry.

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Neat!

The trail wound in and out and down to a point where I would be able to cross Lone Pine Canyon.

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Wrapping around the folds
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Trailside flowers
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Lone Pine Canyon
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Canyon residents
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Made it to the bottom!

I was amazed by the tall yellow grasses that clung to the hillsides, giving the chaparral a wonderful golden hue.

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Amber waves

Once on the other side of the canyon, I climbed up into badlands known locally as the “Mormon Rocks.”  I guess this is because they resemble some of the cool formations Mormon settlers might have seen in Zion or Escalante or other geologic wonderlands in Utah.

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Winding through the Mormon Rocks
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A close-up
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The sun is starting to set
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Another lovely flower
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What a day!
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One last Mormon Rock

The sun set as I descended into Cajon Canyon for the last couple of miles of the hike.  It wasn’t quite as scenic as the rest of the trip since the trail crosses train tracks and an interstate, but it was still really interesting.

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Charred PCT sign from the Blue Cut fire
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First railway crossing
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Second railway crossing
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There is beauty here too!
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Man’s attempt at beauty
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Don’t get lost!
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The very-not-creepy I-15 underpass

Before I knew it I was done, back at the famous McDonald’s sign on the PCT.

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Woo hoo!

Fortunately for me, though, there was a taco truck parked nearby, and to me it was just as beautiful as the cotton candy sky!

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When natural and human-made beauty collide

2 Comments Add yours

  1. susieant says:

    You were in my neck of the PCT. I live in Hesperia. I was out on the PCT Thanksgiving weekend. Wrightwood and Silverwood Lake. Glad you enjoyed our section.

    Love your blog and pics.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. JimmyJam says:

      You live near a really nice part!

      Like

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