My alarm went off at 4:15am and I was all packed up and out of camp by 5:15! Immediately I was in a rhythm. My goal was simple. Hike at least 10 miles by 10am. I did one better. 9 miles by 9am. I even had 15 minutes to spare and I took a bunch of photos of the sunrise. By doing 9x9... It makes it easy to hit all the others. 10x10, 11x11, and 12x12. I think in the desert when it is flat I will by 8x8.
Today was all uphill with a short and steep downhill to highway 2 (which leads into Wrightwood). To be exact, elevation gain was 7200 feet and loss was 3500 feet.
It was filled with really cool views as well as my first view of Poodle Dog Bush. P.D.B is a plant that has an oil which is similar to Poison Oak, but only grows in areas that recently (last 20 years) had a fire. However it's description says that the effects last longer and the irritation is more intense. I made sure to keep my distance. There is more of this plant ahead, especially in the early 400's (miles).
After mile 10 (around 9am), I stopped and ate breakfast. I figured I had an hour or so before I needed to hit the trail again for the 11 and 12 marks. Around 9:30 Riley, Alyssa, Viet and ST (Skinny Thor) met up at the breakfast spot and then we all hit the trail together. Riley, ST and I bolted ahead (I lead the group as I will still feeling really good). Soon Riley dropped back to walk with Alyssa (they're engaged) and ST and I continued our fast pace. Near the top of the climb, about 8000' above sea level, the storm clouds (which had been building all day) dropped hail on us which passed after an hour or so.
It was cooler up top, but the wind stayed calm. There was a lot of the same views and terrain. As we approached highway 2, the PCT wonders onto a ski slope and travels around all the chair lifts. There were also large ponds (man made) which are used to make snow.
Finally, we reach highway 2 and there wasn't a car in sight. This was my first real hitch (all the other times a ride was offered). For the first 10 minutes we only saw a couple motorcycles. Then there was a guy that pulled over and said he was heading away from town, but he had beer. He pulled out a cooler and gave each of us a can.
About 20 minutes later, a pickup truck pulled over for us and we all hop in. He was a firefighter for CalFire. He and his son were on their way back from a day hike.
He drops us off at Mountain Hardware (where my resupply box was shipped to) and then ST and I find our way to the lodge Riley booked for us tonight.
It is one of the coolest places I've stayed so far this hike. My mom and dad would love it.
All of us get cleaned up and then head out for tacos. Evidently we timed it just right for $1.50 tacos at a local bar.
Afterward, we stop in at the grocery store for a few more snacks the hangs for the rest of the evening at the lodge. It was a late night! We all went to bed between 9:30 and 10pm.