It's been awhile, but it's finally time for a full length update!
I'm currently in Wrightwood CA, a quiet but beautiful little ski town. I'm enjoying what we call a zero day, meaning I'm not hiking any miles, just resting and relaxing. I've been eating lots of great town food as I try to supplement the calories I've burned. There are quite a few hikers in town, although a good chunk of them left this morning to head towards the infamous Mt. Baden-Powel.
Monday night we got caught in a very serious ice/snow storm up in the San Gabriel Mountains at about 8600ft. This is the first time on the trip when I have been cold and seriously concerned about my safety. We got into camp about 5:30pm that night and I quickly set up my tent. As usual, the SoCal wind was absolutely howling, but this time it was very cold. My tent which had been wet from rain the previous nights before, immediately iced up, so I climbed in my sleeping bag to warm. Within a few hours, the storm had engulfed the mountain and began dumping a rain/snow mixture. Throughout the night, the wind managed to push the snow into my tent and everything I had was getting wet. I spent the night cold and praying that my tent would hold up in the 50-60mph and at least keep me somewhat sheltered. In the morning, I packed up quickly and started the 5 mile walk to HWY 2, where we hoped to htich into Wrightwood. Those were the toughest miles I walked yet, as the wind tried to push me off the trail. I hiked through large snow banks, freezing rain, and falling ice chunks from trees. I lost the trail once when we passed through a ski resort, but managed to pick it up again within a half hour and made it to the highway. Unfortunately, that highway was closed, so without a hitch it meant another 5.5mile walk into town. Not a fun day, but I was so grateful to get in and see lots of other "hiker trash" waiting out the storms. From what we hear, this is very unusual weather for this area this time of year.
The physical part of the hike has definately been tough for me. It started with the standard blisters on my feet, which are finally getting nice and tough. However, hiking in rain and snow the last week makes shoes very wet, which has caused a few new blisters to pop up. My knees still give me problems on occasion, but I make sure to elevate and ice them whenever I get the opportunity. Honestly the toughest part of the trip so far has been the mental challenge. It's very hard to put in consecutive high mileage days with constant pain and worry. Some mornings I wake up with very low morale, usually due to bad weather or a hurting body. These days are the toughest, because quitting usualy dominates my thoughts. Comfort is an unfamiliar word on the trail, so it's is such an amazing feeling to get into town where we can shower and sleep in a warm bed.
Despite all this, I honestly have to say I'm still having a blast! I've seen some really great scenery and met some really fantastic people. If you haven't checked out my pictures yet, do so by clicking the "pictures" tab at the top of my blog and following the link on that page.
I also want to talk a little about "trail magic". Along the trail are what we call "trail angels", who provide "trail magic". These are just past thru-hikers or everyday people who open up thier homes to hikers, provide water/soda/food caches in rural areas, or give help to hikers in many other ways. We've already stayed a place called "Mike's hiker shack", were he gave us good water and a place to stay in the middle of the desert. Another woman showed up during a rain storm at the Whitewater Conservancy and treated us with great food, beverages, and medical supplies. We were put up for a rainy night in the Best Western at Cajon Pass, by a lady we met in McDonalds who was very curious about our adventure. Another woman even bought us a round of drinks last night in the "Racoon Saloon", here in Wrightwood. In a few days, we will be in Agua Dulce, where we will stay at the very popular "Saufley's Hiker Heaven". We are so grateful to recieve help from anyone on the trail and they really do make this trip easier for us. Thank you so much Trail Angels!
In a few weeks I will be in the Sierras, which both worries and excites me! I love the high alpine mountains, and although we've spent some time in them here in Southern California, we always end up dropping back down into the desert. There is a lot of talk about snow in the Sierras and the Cascades, but I think I really will feel more at home there. We will have to navigate miles of snow covered trails, cross treacherous river fords, and fight off very hungry wildlife haha. I will also be making a side trip to climb Mt. Whitney and stand on top of the lower 48! I'm definately scared, but also stoked for the exciting adventures to come.
Tommorrow I leave to hike up Mt. Baden-Powel, which if you didn't know, is named after the founder of the Boy Scouts of America. This will be a very special place for me, because the Boy Scouts, along with my Mom and Dad, are very responsible for my love of the outdoors. If it weren't for the camping and backpacking I did as a kid, I don't think I'd be here on this hike right now. It is a very tall mountain though, some 10,000 something feet, and it will be quite the challenge. From what we heard today, it should be alright now that the storms have basically passed.
I really want to thank everyone who has left me comments and words of encouragement! I read them all they really are a great morale booster. It's tough out here and I miss home like crazy. This friday it will be one month that I've been on the trail and thats the longest I've ever been away from friends and family. Thank you so much everyone, I love you all tons! You'll hear from me in 4-5 when I reach Agua Dulce...