My Ice Axe Is Gone

We left Big Bear with high spirits, after spending a Nero there. With heavy packs full of food we pushed on, and it didn’t take long until we were post-holing in the afternoon sun, towards the first campsite.

It was going to be a five-day stretch before getting to the   “Famous” McDonalds at Cajon Pass. The scenery around Deep Creek was stunning. Vultures doing low flybys kept us amazed of the nature surrounding us, the heat made us walk faster as we knew the hot springs of Deep Creek were getting closer. My knees acted up once again, but the idea of giving them some hot/cold treatment in the pools pushed me forward. It was everything I dreamed about and more. The icy cold water soothed my pain, and the hot raised my spirit. Old injuries from climbing were not going to stop me from reaching the next destination.

Since we left Campo, I’ve been on the lookout for animals. Guess that is what gave me also my trail name “Paw Patrol, a.k.a Paws”. So far I hadn’t had that much luck. Squirrels, chipmunks, and a few deer had crossed paths with me, but I was always on lookout for new encounters with the wildlife of Southern California. Somewhere before Silverwood Lake, I met my first rattlesnake. The little fellow almost got squashed by me: it never did notify me about its presence, and as I jumped back it just stayed on trail. Basking in the sun, the little fellow was in no rush to move on.

We gave it some time until we moved along towards Silverwood Lake. The comments on Farout warned about a playful bear that liked to grab hikers’ bags in the night. We decided to cowboy camp right next to each other, thinking the bear wouldn’t come.

At 2 am we were woken up by another hiker. Bear bait, as we started to call him, had woken up as the bear was trashing his backpack for food. As everybody sprinted up and started to make noise, the young bear retreated and went on to ravish the nearby garbage bins. None of us really wanted to go back to sleep, so we packed camp and headed towards Cajon Pass in the dark. I arrived at McDonald around 9 am, and proceeded to eat around 3700 calories in one sitting. Yes, I did feel sick after that, and even after a short evening hike, I wasn’t very keen to eat dinner.

The climb up to Guffy campground was beautiful. Snowy peaks greeted us after walking up the hill, Baden-Powell arose in the background, we would be climbing up it in a few days. I practised my glissading just one mile short of camp. Note to self: don’t glissade with your phone in your pocket, or you might spend the next 20 minutes digging for it.

Guffy’s is a beautiful campsite. The views amazed us, and the moon that night lit up the whole area. Making coffee in the morning has been one of my favourite “tasks”, and on Guffy’s it was definitelyone of the best coffees on the trail so far. Beautiful snowy ridgeline, the morning sun shooting amazing colors through the pine forest, and the birds singins us songs. What else could you dream off?

Poppins family greeted us at the parking lot, just outside of Wrightwood. They drove us and took us into their beautiful home. Food was never ending and we got to experience amazing hospitality from Poppins family. As much as every hiker loves home cooked meal, showers and fresh laundry, it was time to get back on trail. It was time to climb a mountain.

Baden-Powell rises up to 9,407 ft / 2,867 m and when it is snow free. The trail goes up through several switchbacks. But for us, the path lead straight up as snow and ice made the switchbacks non-existent. Disco Thor lead the way, and with his guidance and the use of our ice axes and spikes we conquered the mountain as the sun rose up. I’ve gone up mountains before but never had I had to actually climb one up using an ice axe. This accomplishment got me excited even more about the upcoming Sierras.

The rest of the day was spent in snow, slow going and carefully we walked the ridgelines, and slopes. A beautiful day full of stunning views on an amazing mountain. 10 miles later we got down to Islip Saddle, where we camped for the night.

From Islip, we walked on the road to skip a part of the PCT that is closed because of an endangered frog species. Better to give the little guys a chance to grow a bigger community. Many people dislike road walks, but as the highway is closed it made for a very enjoyable walk.

We camped in the clouds for the next days, until we came down to Acton. Walked through hills with high grass, passed through the tunnel that gives safe passage for hikers under Highway 14 and cowboy camped under a natural roof in a canyon before Vasquez Rocks.

The next morning we walked through Vasques Rocks, Disco and I chatted about our favourite movies and series and not long after we were greeted by Poppins family again. It was time to have another night at their home, eating amazing food once again and replace some broken gear.

46 dollars, please. That’s how much it cost to send seven ice axes to Kennedy Meadows South. We had packed the groups axes wrapped up in bubble wrap to two combined envelopes. The snow was finished for at least the next 300 miles, and it was time to embrace the heat of the desert.

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