The One with the Sunrise and the Lack of Sleep
I arrived in Wrightwood at 10 in the morning, out of food and water. I went straight to the towns café where I met up with the group and had an amazing breakfast. Drank 4 cups of coffee and felt full of energy when I did my resupply later on. It was actually the first time I didn’t feel unorganised and stressed when hitting town. I got all my errands done in less than one hour.
We spent the night in a house of a trail angel called Arlene. We wore loaner clothes while we did our laundry and then went over to the dutchies who had prepared a BBQ. Two of the guys wore dresses and I a white shirt. It was so nice to wear something else. Something clean and something white.
We ended up having an awesome night where we talked, drank, smoked and sang. Maybe not the best from a recovery point of view, but we had a lot of fun. I shaved one of the guys head and we finished the night off in the hot tub before I exhausted fell asleep. The next morning in the afternoon we hitched back to trail after getting a free coffee in a café. We met some guys with guitars and drugs at the end of the road closure who gave us Mountain Dew. The views were amazing the entire day and we hiked for just a few hours before getting to camp. We saw maybe the best sunset so far over the valley and slept together on the parking lot underneath the great summit of Baden Powell.
Our alarms went off at 2am and still rubbing the sleep from our eyes we started ascending the mountain. There was five of us in the beginning but two ended up turning back because of stomach issues. The ascent was steep but the night beautiful. We hit snow almost immediately and used our microspikes and ice axes. Just a few minutes before sunrise we reached the peak and drank coffee in our sleeping bags watching the sky turn pink. It was incredible. I felt so happy, both to have done a hard thing with such wonderful people but also because I felt stronger since summiting San Jacinto. Doing the Sierras in a few weeks doesn’t seem so impossible anymore.
We were so sleep deprived that we felt stoned. The entire way down we spent giggling and fucking around, not going faster than maybe half a mile per hour. We took a siesta under the pine trees on the south side of the mountain, before doing the last stretch down the snowy range. We reached camp right before it got dark, tired but so happy. We cowboycamped on a snow free patch and got woken up by other hikers passing us in the morning.
We didn’t leave until early noon and had a fairly easy way down until we reached the road. The highway was closed since the crazy winter and we decided to walk it instead of the trail. It was so cool. It felt like a scene from an apocalyptic movie, where we are walking dirty and sweaty down an empty highway crossing the mountains. We reached a tunnel and sang Misty Mountains and the echo went on long after we stopped. We walked the entire day on the desolate road and saw no other people. It felt like such a luxury being able to walk on a line and talk uninterrupted. I think we covered more or less every subject there is and solved all the worlds problem that day hiking the highway. We ate lunch beside an abandoned ski lift and washed ourselves in a river before the sun went down. We slept on an empty car park and I awoke to coyotes howling during the night and by mosquitoes eating my face.
The next day we got on trail again and I saw a ladybug that made me think about my sister. The view was amazing and the day hot. We slept next to a fire station together with maybe 20 other hikers. We played cards and a guy offered us a few pizza slices that we devoured.
We had heard rumours about a trail angel coming by in the morning so we stuck around until Snow Angel and his girlfriend showed up, They had everything a hungry hiker could ever want. We ate burritos, fruits, berries and snacks. I drank a beer and a bunch of sodas and felt so full that I could barely move. The ascent from the trail magic was hard and I was sweating like a pig. We came by an angry rattle snake that refused to get off the road and we tried to wait it out. Soon another hiker came by that literally just threw it off the mountain using a log. Pretty badass.
I felt so tired the entire day, I don’t know if it was because a lack of coffee or the beer in the morning, but it was awful. The water source I was planning on eating lunch by was infested by bees and I barely made it out with enough water. I saw 3 other snakes that scared the shit out of me and I felt like nature was against me. Reaching camp right as a beautiful sun was setting kind of made up for the hard day. I ate trail mix for dinner and tried to see a shooting star before falling asleep.
I still can’t wrap my head around how organised most hikers are. They leave camp at 6 in the morning, know all the water sources and camp sites. They arrive early in time to stretch and journal and pitch their tent. Myself I feel like a walking chaos. Always leaving and arriving last. Out of water and with malfunctioning gear. And I happen to surround myself with similar people. Which is both a blessing and a curse. Mostly we just laugh about it but sometimes I envy them. One day a passing day hiker called us “experienced thruhikers”. If she only knew.
Another day of starting to late I had to pay the prize of enduring the desert heat. I was tired. My sleeping pad got a hole in it during the night, so I had to get up four times to re-blow it. I cursed myself for being to reckless with everything I own. I washed my hair in a river and called my friends when I got reception close to town. I saw a fox running on trail with a rabbit in its mouth, and it made me happy. I arrived to the highway going to Acton after noon and we had to wait for a long time before being able to get a hitch.
Once reaching town we went straight to the supermarket and bought a whole chicken and vegetables. Me and Simon shared it and ate with our bare hands sitting on the dirt behind the bar. I’m trying to get better at saving money and not falling into the trap of getting to impulsive in town. But that also means eating on the ground instead of in a restaurant, washing myself and my clothes in rivers instead of showering and spending the night on my sleeping pad instead of in a bed. But it’s going to be worth it in the end.
◦ Night’s cowboy camping: 24
◦ Clif bars devoured: 85
◦ Blisters: 3
◦ Beers: 41
◦ Rattlesnakes: 16
◦ Zero days: 7
Miles 363-444 (584-714km)
3 things I’m grateful for:
Sunrise at Baden Powell.
Berries and fruits at the trail magic.
Eating mashed up chips with a spoon.
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