Day 21: The Hills of Los Angeles Were Burning

Mile reached: 424.2 (+29.2)

High: “Dino Man” and “Moon Guy” are back on the trail, and the latter is feeling much better.

Low: I’m going at my usual pace, but everything feels slower.

Random musing: Some of us are quite surprised at how upbeat and positive almost all of the thru-hikers are. People of course complain e.g. about this or that hurting, but you really have to look to find someone with a negative attitude. Selection bias may be in play as everyone with a negative outlook had had copious opportunities to quit.

Wow, I did not sleep well. The muscles around my knees were really tight (I guess all of the previous day’s climbing took its toll). So, I was constantly turning and never felt comfortable. I heard other people’s alarms going of at 5:30, but I don’t think I got out my quilt until 7. Ultimately, I was the second to last person or of camp only beating a 68 year old woman.

The day began with a moderate climb, and I caught a number of people from camp. Amusingly, one hiker, “Pilgrim”, looks like he came straight out of Dune. He’s completely wrapped up in cloth including something that goes over his face. When I found him he was doing some kind of meditation, so I guess the name is apt.

The forest in the morning light

The trail descended parallel to highway 2 for much of the morning. The pine forests began to give way to oak and then finally yucca and chaparral. It’s amazing how quickly the vegetation changed. There were a couple moderately long dry stretches, but fortunate temperatures are so cool that they were barely noticed.

An artist uses the tools at their disposal.
Typical scenery of the day

Finally, I crossed highway 2 for they last time and was greeted with my first burn section. Over the past decade there have been several fires in the area with the 2009 Station Fire being the largest. The pines and manzanita hedges were all gone with smaller vegetation opportunistically taking their places. Of course, the thru-hikers favorite plant, poodle dog bush, made an appearance. Thankfully, due to the efforts of trail maintenance crews, I was greeted to the sight of many dead poodle dog bushes that otherwise would have been encroaching the trail.

After miles of this, there was a big climb around Pacifico Mountain. I made good time, but I felt tired. I suspect that I’m running low on glycogen and need to eat more carbs and less fast during the day.

The trail did climb up around the upper reaches of Pacifico Mountain, so there was a nice forested area in which to eat lunch.

A little after 4, I reached a fire station where almost everyone was stopping. It would be the last water for possibly 26 miles. But, with plenty of daylight left and feeling a bit better after eating a bunch of Reese’s Pieces I decided to push onward and reduce the length of tomorrow’s water carry. So, I grabbed 4 liters and made it 6 miles to a campground that burned up in the Station Fire for the night.

Dry hills and the remnants of the fire

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