Trail Closures and Road Walking (May 16)
On this day, I was faced with deciding what to do in response to part of the PCT being closed (mile 374-403). This section of trail in southern CA is closed in order to protect an endangered species of frog in California, and also due to recent fire damage (and danger of burn debris yet, there). That means that you can either choose to walk 22 miles of a nearby scenic highway, that leads you to where the PCT picks up again, or skip the walking and get a ride to where the PCT picks up again.
There are all kinds of opinions around road walks, and some hikers hold them dearly. (“You’re going to road walk? You can’t do that!”, or this sentiment that to not road walk is “cheating”.) Some feel it’s very important to connect their footsteps, and road walk when that’s a viable option. Some feel it’s dangerous to road walk, or they just prefer not to. Fortunately, some just make their own decisions and don’t worry so much about what others do.
At this point in the trip, I was open to road walking, especially because a group of friends was also in favor of it. Another factor in the decision was that the scenic highway was closed to thru traffic on that day (but not specifically closed to pedestrians), so we would not be hiking with traffic whizzing by.
Also, right before the road walk section, as I waited for some friends to gather at a common camp area, I hiked up Mount Baden Powell. The PCT is closed just beyond that mountain, so some hikers choose not to hike up it, only to turn around again. A friend and I both decided we wanted to hike up, all the same. Mount Baden Powell is 9407 feet in elevation, higher than most mountains I’ve climbed. It felt especially high because we hiked up through misty cloud cover, then ascended above the clouds so that we were then looking down on a sea of cloud cover below us! That’s always such a neat feeling. Needless to say, views were great from up there.
The day of the road walk was clear and sunny, and it was kind of fun to hike as a group for a day. We chatted sometimes, took breaks together, once laid down in the sun in a parking area, and laughed at how good that felt.
We walked by a lot of burned trees all day long- I guess to be expected. Kind of eerie.
By the end of the day, my feet were feeling sore and blistered, and I wasn’t so sure if I’d choose a long road walk like that again. There were some nice views that day, and it was good to get to know these fellow hikers and to try it once, but I’ll have to think again before my next one.
Trail closures and road walking- kind of dry details in the context of hiking the PCT, but I include it because it’s been new to me, on this trip. There are more uncontrollable factors out here, like wildfires and subsequent trail closures, compared to my past trail experience. I know we all felt thankful and maybe extra appreciative to see the simple sandy path of the PCT winding through the desert, at the end of the day. It felt good to be back.
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