Day 22: Up, Up, Up to Guffy

22 April 2021
Road to McDonald’s to Guffy Campground
PCT Mile 341.9 to 364.4

It was great to sleep in a hotel the last two nights because it has been windy and COLD!

But, the weather worked in our favor today because we had to climb 6,700 feet over 23 miles! When I planned this section before I started the PCT I was dreading it. Not only is it a big climb, but there is no water — we would have to carry everything we needed all the way from the bottom.

But it was 20 degrees below normal today, and we lost heat as we climbed, keeping the temperature in the 40s all day long. Perfect! Also, trail angels stocked a water cache about 5 miles in, so we only had to carry 3 liters (6 pounds) to make it to the spring below Guffy Campground.

To start the morning, we had to walk a mile just to get back to the PCT. Thru-hikers sarcastically call these “bonus miles” because they don’t count towards progress along the trail.

JimmyJam braves the cold 🥶
Don’t remind me

People have discarded some weird stuff along the McDonald’s road.

Nap time for JimmyJam
Goose under Interstate 15
Mad Max on the PCT

It was a strange mix of urban decay and nature as the PCT snaked under the highway, around a junkyard, and under and the over some extremely busy railroads.

California evening primrose
Black sage
Nonstop freight trains
Goose under the rails…
…and on them!
Lanceleaf liveforever
Up into the marine layer

It was an easy 5 miles to Swarthout Canyon, where we passed some PCTA Trail Gorillas (trail maintenance volunteers) who had already cleared the trail up to Guffy (thank you, thank you, thank you!) and then arrived at a water cache stocked by trail angels (thank you, thank you, thank you!).

Thank you Trail Gorillas!
Thank you trail angels!
High tea at Swarthout Canyon

We each filled up with 3 liters and then started our long climb to Guffy.

Bluehead gilia
Sea Muilla
Break time!

We were traversing a 45 degree slope when suddenly I had to GO! I mean GO! There was nothing to do but climb up a small ravine 10 feet, crouch as low in the chaparral as I could, and hope I wasn’t ruining the view for any hikers coming around the bend.

An hour later the scene repeated. Yikes!

Maybe it has something to do with the burrito full of birria I ate last night (and this morning for breakfast — I should stick to oatmeal!).

Whew. I was relieved when my stomach finally settled down.

We continued to press onward, upward.

Goose ponders Mount Baldy
Nevada biscuitroot
Our friend, Poodle Dog Bush!
Into the pines
Ever higher
Above the clouds
Fernleaf biscuitroot

We got into some very gravelly traverses above tree line, and it was there I found my rarest plant species to date. It only grows in the San Gabriel Mountains, and it is endangered.

JimmyJam finds his rarest plant yet
San Gabriel linanthus
Into the woods
Great views up here!
So beautiful!
A very happy Goose
One more mile!

When we finally got to camp, it suddenly got extremely windy. Goose set up behind a big log and I found a slope-y but somewhat protected spot in a pine grove.

Goose on the windy side of the campground
Taking shelter from the wind

Unfortunately, we had to climb down (and back up!) an extra 200 feet and a third of a mile to get water at Guffy Spring (more bonus miles!). But we met another hiker, Maya, down there who seemed really nice. She was pressing on to the next campground to get out of the wind, but we didn’t have any gas left in the tank, so we stayed put and said fare well.

It’s 37 degrees now. The forecast says the temperature is supposed to go up overnight, but I don’t quite trust it. I’ve put on all my clothes and am in my bag, hoping for the best.

But even so I’m happy. It’s been a great day!

Today’s Hike-U:

Thank You Wrightwood Trail Angel
Glorious it is
When trail angels give water
To those who must climb

4 Comments Add yours

  1. Peggy Tryon says:

    Beautiful pics James! I think you should take up painting next and paint some of these! stay safe! Peggy

    Liked by 1 person

    1. JimmyJam says:

      Thanks! 😊


  2. Do you know before you set out that the Trail Angels have left water? Otherwise, it might be kind of a bummer – “Doh – I didn’t have to carry that much water!”…

    Liked by 1 person

    1. JimmyJam says:

      Great question! On the Guthook app, hikers ahead of us on the PCT leave information about how much water is left in a cache. We read on there that the cache had been restocked with 30 gallons the night before, so it was a good chance we’d be fine. Plan B was to hike 5 miles back to Cajon Junction, so annoying but not life-threatening.

      Liked by 1 person

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