Mile reached: 395.2 (+22.1 + 4.8 alternate + 0.2 bonus)
High: I saw Joe several switchbacks above me on the mountain and caught him before the top. We then enjoyed a long lunch on the summit chatting.
Low: The trail gained 1200 feet going over the arm of Mt. Williamson only to immediately lose it, while highway 2 simply traversed around. This was of course followed by a 3 mile road walk on the highway.
I meant to get an early start, but it just didn’t quite work out that way. Even though I woke up before 7, I lost a lot of time wrapping up loose ends before I could leave town. I did enjoy an excellent biscuit and gravy from the local gas station (in retrospect I might have passed on that as I ended up tasting it throughout the day).
To get back up to the trail, I needed to hitch a ride. I saw two girls also hitching, so I walked just far enough away to be out of sight. Within a few minutes a truck pulled over for them, and I ran over asking if there was room for me as well. The driver waved me over, but as soon as I hoped in the car he jokingly chided me, “I saw what you did. There’s no way I would have pulled over for your ugly mug.”
The driver, Dennis, was a Wrightwood local, and he drove us all the way to the trailhead even though he wasn’t going that way. (Over the past day, I was continually surprised but how generous the locals were.) When I hoped out, I heard someone shout, “Chihuahua!” It turned out that “DN” and a couple others were trying to find a ride back into town. Dennis graciously offered to take some much dirtier hikers back with him.
The scenery was absolutely gorgeous. Thus far, it was the most impressive part of the trail. The San Gabriels are fairly narrow, so there are expansive views in all directions, and the mountains themselves are fully forested.
The big obstacle of the day was Mount Baden-Powell, which had 2,500 feet of elevation gain over series of relentless switchbacks. Near there top, I caught Joe and a friend of his. We all sat down on the summit and ate lunch together. It turns out that Joe worked in healthcare IT just like “Dino Man” and “Moon Guy” but for a competing company. We agreed that if they ever catch up, we’ll have to poke that bear.
I got a late start from a lazy lunch, but I still wanted to push 17 more miles. Even though Baden-Powell was the highest thing around, there was a surprisingly large amount of climbing in the afternoon. The climb over Mt. Williamson was particularly heartbreaking. I didn’t check my stats to verify, but I felt a little sluggish as the afternoon seemed to drag on.
Eventually, I ran into Marc setting up camp. Apparently, his legs were hurting, so he called it a little early around 5. Almost immediately after passing him, I encountered the trail closure due to an endangered frog. The alternate routes hikers along the highway, which sucked. Fortunately, there was hardly any traffic on a weekday evening. I slogged on and reached camp shortly after the sun set.