San Jacinto – Acton

Animal Style

Descending from fuller ridge is a long painful day but the views offered of the valley below are unmatched. We reach the Interstate underpass and upon arrival, we take advantage of the water cache, fruit and snacks to feel right again. Trail Angel Nitsy came to pick us up. I don’t think she ever really sleeps because she’s shuttling hikers all day every day. First stop is In-N-Out by default, then her yard which is temporarily transformed into a hiker circus for the night, then Walmart and back to trail.

A quick turn around had everyone feeling slightly better and ready to press on. The hot day was made better by a cold Mountain Dew you can buy from the wind farm. Eventually you can hike a short spur trail to get to Whitewater Preserve, which is some of the loveliest outdoor accomodations on trail. I didn’t see any bighorn sheep, but the oasis-like park was more than enough reason to justify the side trail.

The following day, Mission Creek made for an interesting, lush landscape but also a long difficult obstacle to navigate. Dozens of times per day we had to cross the creek and get our feet wet or bushwhack to move forward. As you climb into the San Bernardino Mountains you get more and more opportunities to see lovely forested sections, quartz-like rock formations and dammed up lakes that are green and blue. Big Bear Lake itself is beautiful and the town seems to sparkle below. Plenty of day hikers might cross paths with you on the weekends and wow, it’s true what they say, everyone smells STRONGLY of laundry detergent. Or I just smell that much worse to them. I guess both things can be true.

Head In The Clouds

Deep Creek is a constantly winding section that just gets more and more beautiful. I didn’t expect to love the hot springs and the creek so much, but I would be excited to go back any time. Plenty of more delightful views of the deep blue looking Silverwood Lake and beyond. The fun was interrupted by a major rainstorm that had me pitching my tarp for the first time. I managed to stay dry overnight but hiked through tons of rain, hail and even snow the day after. Got to McDonald’s soaking wet and cold. Some hot fries and a warm place to hang out, really changed my attitude.

By the time I road walked most of the way into wrightwood to avoid the fire closure, it had been lifted. Weird timing but oh well, might as well just press on. I resupplied, got a hitch a few miles to the road closure to avoid the 6 inches of snow they got up top and on existing snow-packed blue blaze trails. Hiked in the fresh snow to Vincent gap and set up camp. Cold and windy is the best way to describe that evening. For the first time, I saw no precipitation forecasted so I left the tarp off. Big mistake. Baden Powell was basically in a cloud that night and the rain started coming down. By the time I woke up I was soaking wet and facing a 24°F night. It was only 8:45pm. By morning I was, as you might guess, in no shape to hike the snow. Half of the group camping there braved the fresh snow on and off Baden Powell and the other half did a road walk alternate on Highway 2. Many who summited then descended the mountain and joined the road walk thereafter. Given my miserable night, the fact that I had hiked Baden Powell once before and that I also recently tacked on extra miles at Mt. San Jacinto; I felt comfortable embracing the alternate. The alternate of course had it’s own hazards including black ice, rockfall(one almost nailed me!) and snow traversing around tight steep bends.

Once on trail again, views of neighborhoods outside LA plus rolling hills surrounding the highways was nice. A man named Todd offered Cola, Apples and other snacks which helped to comfort us tired wanderers in the latter portions of Angeles. The wildflowers were everywhere and a meal at the 49er Saloon gave me a reset. That and a night in Palmdale where I managed to replace some gear including my shredded shorts with a new clean pair. They won’t be clean for long.

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