25 April 2021
Vincent Gap to Sulphur Springs Trail Camp
PCT Mile 374.0 to 406.6
Half Cookie dropped me off at Vincent Gap, I made her laugh with a John Mulaney joke, and then I was on my way.
I had to walk the road today because it is currently the only legal way to pass through the Bobcat Fire closure. The trail is still off limits through here, so if I want continuous footsteps to Canada it’s pretty much my only choice.
There is a huge gate across the road at Vincent Gap saying the road is closed, but on Friday there were some construction workers here who said they knew PCT hikers were coming through and it was fine. They even said “we’re looking out for you to make sure you stay safe.” Thanks so much!
The big challenge today was the wind. Over the first five miles, north-south stretches of the road had sustained winds of 30 MPH and gusts to 50, bringing wind chills well below freezing. Brrrrr! I was much happier in east-west stretches. But fortunately I started with a 1000 foot climb, so it balanced out a little.
I thought the road was closed to Islip Saddle, but then I saw this:
Apparently, since there was no construction work today, they left the gates open at Islip Saddle. It was a little unnerving to see the first car, but after that I just walked on the shoulder to be safe.
I only saw two other cars on the way to Islip Saddle, but after that they passed every five minutes or so. There were lots of loud sports cars ( it sounded a little like the Talladega Speedway!), some gaggles of motor bikes, a few regular cars, and even an RV.
Some stretches of the road were narrow with blind curves, but I always walked the side with the wider shoulder and most visibility and was always able to be at least 3 feet away from the white line when cars passed. It was pretty easy to make a plan each time since I could hear them well before seeing them.
The burn zone was interesting. They are still working on felling potentially hazardous trees.
There were lots of ravines that had water the first ten miles, but I got water in the middle of the road walk at Cortelyou Spring. It was delicious!
At Islip Saddle I saw two hikers cross the road but they disappeared. They must be hiking the trail, even though signs clearly say it is closed.
Just past Islip Saddle are some cool tunnels to walk through. I was nervous about them before I got there, but they were short, well-lit, and had sidewalks in both sides. I wore my headlamp in flashing red mode just in case.
I passed some ski resorts and after that, water was still running above Buckhorn Camoground, but I didn’t need any yet so I just took a break.
I planned to get water from a stream right before Three Points at the end of the road walk, but it was dry. I also slipped and fell on the embankment, putting a gash in my glove.
Fortunately, there was some water left for PCT hikers at the parking lot at Three Points. I saw Trainwreck and Red Light again, and a few other hikers. I chatted a while, used the facilities (no trowel needed!) and was on my way.
I felt a little weary of all the engine revving the last few miles, so I was very happy to see open trail again!
It was a short three miles down to camp at Sulphur Spring.
There were three other hikers camped at Sulphur Spring, Knock Knock, Puma, and Fun Fact.
I joined them for dinner. Knock Knock has already completed the Appalachian Trail and the Continental Divide Trail, so he is now trying for his “triple crown” (as thru-hikers call it) with the PCT. Cool!
Then I crawled in my tent to escape the cold and use floss to sew my gloves before drifting to sleep.
From Asphalt to Dirt
Nothing has made me
Love the beauty of a trail
More than a road walk