The Unbearable Lightness of Morning

Maxwell Trail Camp Guzzler (PCT Halfmile 493) to San Francisquito Canyon Road (mile 478.2)
(14.8 miles, +2500/-3500 feet).

Last night the wind came on strong a little after sundown.  I was camped in a thick wood so there wasn’t too much breeze at ground level, but the trees flailed around wildly.  I was glad to be camped in a copse of young and very green pines that wanted to keep their branches!

As usual for winter camping I awoke too early, but not by much.  I decided to go ahead and start hiking at 5:30am, a full hour before sunrise.  The stars were spectacular with the Moon, Mars, and Jupiter all clustered in Scorpio, and before long they started to fade.

I climbed over the top of an east-facing ridge and got my first view of the glorious sunrise.

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Wow!

There was a spectacular cloud formation over the Mojave that followed me all morning long.  It started out grayish black and then gradually lightened before exploding into a cotton candy missile that stretched across the sky.

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My morning hiking companion
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Me and the missile

Eventually the sun kissed the distant Tehachapis and then the nearby nooks and crannies of the Portal Ridge.

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Morning light

The trail wound gradually downward through sandy hills dotted with chaparral as I made my way towards Lake Hughes Road.

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Chaparral dune
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View from the trail

By 8:30am I made it to the bottom and I took a break before my last 1200 foot climb for this trip up and over to San Francisquito Canyon.

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Break time!

The climb today was much more pleasant than yesterday’s without my hundreds of little friends following me up.  It was literally a breeze!

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View west from the pass

The trail briefly passed to the north side of the ridge through woods like yesterday, and I was finally able to appreciate them!

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Flowy

When I was about a mile from the end of my hike I decided to detour from the PCT to take a forest road to the pass where I would have cell signal to get an Uber back to my car.  It looked easy on the topo map, but when I got there I found out the 50 feet of space between me and the road was full of this:

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Tough to climb through

It wasn’t too bad actually.  The first 10 feet took a couple of minutes but then I found some animal trails that made it easier and soon I was on the dirt road above.

The forest road had the same nice views as the PCT, but it was quite a bit more trashy.  In fact, it looked like someone had illegally dumped the precursor to a kitchen remodel on the side of the road.

Not to worry though.  There is always beauty if we look hard enough.  A few steps past the rubbish pile I saw my prettiest flowers of the trip.

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A diamond in the rough
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What I put myself in the way of

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