Day 18: I’m Lovin’ It

Mile reached: 352.7 (+24.5 + 0.8 bonus)

High: McDonald’s had never treated so delicious

Low: It was annoying to find a campsite, and so I ended up in some poodle dog bush.

How annoying, I woke up late and covered in dew. So, I had to wait a few minutes for my gear to dry in the sun. Fortunately, I didn’t have far to go in the morning, and the day use area was a nice place to loiter.

Yet another beautiful desert flower

After hitting the trail, I ran into a few groups of people who I had seen the night before, but they were all taking their time. On a switchback ahead I saw someone, who would later introduce himself as Joe, but it took a surprisingly large amount of time for me to catch him. We chatted for a few minutes, and I learned that his two buddies had both dropped out due to injury. After I passed him, he took it as a challenge to keep pace with me. Near Cajon pass I stopped to take some photos and talk with another hiker. When I got going again, I noticed that Joe was right on my heals, and we arrived at the interstate more or less simultaneously.

It’s basically party of the trail!

The big question everyone had been asking each other all morning was, “Are you going to McDonald’s?” At the interstate there is a McDonald’s very close to the trail. Pretty much everyone goes there including people that otherwise think it’s disgusting off trail. Once I got there, I found it absolutely overrun with hiker trash. (I wonder what the motorists think of all this.) I ordered my lunch and joined a few other hikers out on the patio.

Too bad they don’t let thru-hikers camp in they parking lot. They might stay for multiple meals.
Challenge accepted. Joe decided to try the McDonald’s challenge and only eat food from them until Wrightwood.

The conversation very quickly turned to what’s the next stretch. We discovered that we would now be beginning a new section, CA-D, and that there was no reliable water for the next 28 miles until the town of Wrightwood. We would also be gaining something like 6,000 feet over this segment.

The weather was cool, so hikers were pretty eagerly heading out even though it was still the early afternoon. After stocking up on water, I joined them. The first five miles were characterized by railroad crossings, tunnels, and poodle dog bush (allegedly worse than poison oak). Finally, I reached the first landmark, which was a water cache.

Such an inviting overpass. It’s the last one though until I-80 near Truckee!
Poodle Dog Bush finally makes an appearance. At least it smells like marijuana, so you know too be on the lookout.
The foothills of the San Gabriels coming up from the pass

Fewer hikers decided to push on and commit to the sustained climb up into the San Gabriel Mountains. The trail cut across steep slopes, and there were very few campsites. After six miles, I found a passable campsite in the bushes as it was getting dark. There was one lone poodle dog stalk near it, which I attempted to remove. But, it stuck me leaving a welt on my hand. Nursing my wound, I quickly made dinner and dozed off.

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