Mile reached: 503.2 (+25.0 + 8.2 bonus)
High: The terrain was surprisingly more beautiful than expected.
Low: I had to climb the bonus bump twice, because my Inreach fell out of my pocket on top of the mountain.
Embarrassing admission: I had the eponymous song stuck in my head for far too much of the day. But, at least I wasn’t alone!
Magically, no snafflehounds came for my food in the manzanita forest in the middle of the night. So, I was just awakened to cacophony of hikers disassembling tents, which cued that it was also time for me to pack up. With great enthusiasm I ate the pancakes that Teri had prepared for us and caught the second shuttle back to the trail.
We had all been commenting on how overcast the weather appeared to be and how this would be nice for hiking. It definitely wasn’t hot, but it was cold and much of the morning was spent in windy whiteout conditions. Regardless, many of us were happy with this, since this section is notorious for being dry and hot.
After 8 miles I reached the first water source of the day, which was flowing nicely. A few miles later I could see out the backside into the Mojave, and was treated to the first views of the day. As I gained a little elevation the vegetation was no longer desert scrub or chaparral, but there were grass, oaks, and scattered pine forests. I had expected a low elevation desert range, but it was quite beautiful despite being dry.
I had a side adventure planned for the day. Namely, the highpoint of the range has two thousand feet of prominence and is easily accessible from the trail. So, at the appropriate junction, I set of for my bonus bump. About a half mile in I dropped my pack and continued up the graded road eventually leaving it for the partially overgrown old grade that led more directly to the summit.
Thanks to the clouds there were no views and much of the summit was fenced of due to the presence of an FAA installation. I may have hopped the fence at which point my Inreach fell out of my pocket. I tragically would not discover this until I had returned to my pack. So, I got to do the 3 or so mile roundtrip to the summit a second time to look for it. I did find it, but I was still fairly angry with myself.
I took an old use trail back to a forest service road that ran through a campground right off the PCT. Here I learned that there was an incident with a bear the night before. Right after I passed through, I ran into “Rainman”, “Mustang”, and “Pitch” coming in. “Pitch” was characteristically chipper, but the others were glad to be done for the day.
Since my trail mileage was still fairly short for the day, I knocked off another 5 miles, made dinner, and went to sleep promptly.