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.
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.
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.
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.
As I approached Gobblers Knob I left the forest behind me and the views really started opening up.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Near the trail I spied an abandoned insect nest and wondered at its hexagonal symmetry.
The trail wound in and out and down to a point where I would be able to cross Lone Pine Canyon.
I was amazed by the tall yellow grasses that clung to the hillsides, giving the chaparral a wonderful golden hue.
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.
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.
Before I knew it I was done, back at the famous McDonald’s sign on the PCT.
Fortunately for me, though, there was a taco truck parked nearby, and to me it was just as beautiful as the cotton candy sky!