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Days 32-36 // trail angels, Baden-Powell, and rainy days

Day 32 // 5.0 miles

PCT Mile 369.3

Songbird and I got up around the same time and greeted our section hiker friends, Stacy and Aaron. Our stuff was pretty wet from the snow still, so we let it dry in the sun for a while.

We were ready to get into Wrightwood though, so we packed up and started the last 5 mile stretch to highway 2.

We passed under some ski lifts and went up and down some steep hills. Finally, we saw the highway and the parking area nearby.

I had been in touch with a trail angel, Elizabeth, who could host us, but when I got a bit of service, I checked my messages I saw that she wasn't feeling well and wouldn't be able to do it tonight.

Songbird, two other hikers, and I waited by the highway to town with our thumbs out. About 5-10 minutes later, both a truck and a Jeep pulled off to give rides.

Songbird and went together to ride in the truck. I snapped a photo of the licence plate in case, and hopped in. A jovial guy who called himself "Cowboy John" was our driver. He was a Wrightwood local and was really friendly, interested in where we were from and what drew us to the trail. As we pulled into town, he pointed out the notable places we might want to go.

The local hardware store was a popular first stop for most hikers, because of their trail angel directory, section of hiker food/gear, and their back porch area where we could charge stuff, store our packs, and hang out in the shade.

We thanked Cowboy John and went on our way. It was sweet to see that the shop was a Do it Best hardware member, since I had worked extensively on projects for them at my last job.

We headed into the hardware store, where a friendly employee showed us where we could put our packs and find the hiker box (a box where hikers can put in things they don't want or take someone else's unwanted food/gear).

Afterwards, I bought some dehydrated meals there and got a fuel canister for a penny since I spent over $20. I also got a PCT pin for signing the logbook. So nice!

I bumped into my friend Carol there while I was flipping through the trail angel registry. She had stayed with a lady named Laura, and it sounded like there might be room for us. She gave us Laura's number so I called and found out that Songbird and I could stay.

I headed to the post office to pick up my microspikes and new hipbelt. I also had my ice axe sent here but decided to send it ahead to Kennedy Meadows for the Sierra.

Songbird and I were ready for some food next, so we stopped over to the Village Grind for coffee and breakfast burritos. Stevie Wonder joined us, and Polka Dot and Zohar were there too!

After catching up, we popped over to the Wrightwood Market convenience store where we got free corndogs off the grill, then headed to Jensen's to meet Carol so Laura coul pick us up.

What a sweet lady she was! We piled into her van, and soon found out that 3 Bean and Foxtail were coming to stay with her too. Yay!

Laura is from Carlsbad, but she has this vacation cabin in Wrightwood and loves to help out hikers when she's in town. She first started hosting hikers after hearing about a guy raising money for a friend's surgery by hiking.

We pulled up to her cabin and it was so beautiful! She showed us where we could find everything we needed - laundry, loaner robes to wear, shower stuff, and more. She also had planned dinner and breakfast for us, all organic and vegan. Yum!

It was so nice to get clean, take care of laundry, and relax at her cute place - truly a blessing.

Dinner was a delicious chili, fresh garden salad, potato salad, fruit, and dessert. We felt so spoiled by the good, fresh food.

We stayed up talking, then hit the hay for a restful nights' sleep.

Day 33 // 0.0 miles

PCT Mile 369.3

Laura made us an awesome breakfast this morning - vegan blueberry pancakes, fruit, coffee, and orange juice. She was heading back home from the cabin today, so we knew we couldn't stay an extra day, but she was actually friends with Elizabeth and found out that she could take Songbird, Carol, and I since we were all hoping to take a zero.

Laura said she could drop our packs at Elizabeth's and take us downtown for our errands.

We hoped to check out the zipline tours since they were the longest in California, but sadly Wednesday was their maintenance day.

So we went back to the Village Grind, to Jensen's to resupply, then to Mexico Lindo for lunch. We also bumped into Grit, a sweet German girl staying with Elizabeth too. We all devoured soooo much Mexican food together :)

Elizabeth picked us up, and also had dinner in the works for us! So kind. She showed us where we could sleep, and we had some time to take it easy and organize our stuff. There was an awesome verse on the mirror in my room.

I soaked my feet in Epsom salts and had time to catch up on the blog.

Dinner was delicious - chicken Alfredo, salmon, green beans, salad, chips and fresh salsa. Elizabeth and her husband Mike are a sweet Christian couple with three grown daughters. They've lived in Wrightwood for years, and try to host hikers when they can.

It is amazing to think about the kindness I've experienced through the trail angels I've met - without asking for anything in return, they take us in, feed us, give us rides, let us do our laundry, and take an interest in our stories. What a sweet reminder of the compassion and empathy people have.

After dinner, we played Apples to Apples until we decided to call it a night. So thankful for a restful zero day. Tomorrow, it'll be back to climbing mountains.

Day 34 // 14.6 miles

PCT Mile 383.9

After a nice slow morning of breakfast, coffee, and painting my nails, Elizabeth dropped me, Carol, and Songbird at the trailhead.

We got there around 10:15ish, so not the earliest start, but we were ready to take on Mt. Baden-Powell.

With awesome views of Mt. Baldy as well, we headed for the base of the mountain, chatting and enjoying each other's company. We started thinking of trail names for ever-encouraging Carol, and landed on Cheerleader and Thumbs Up. Later that day, she decided on Cheer.

For a while, we hiked with a girl from Canada named Taylor, and also met a guy called Downhill.

We took a snack break shortly before the climb up the mountain, and I started making up a parody to the song "Sexyback" by Justin Timberlake and made it "Switchbacks" about our climb up Baden Powell. Haha.

We began the climb, and it was very steep. Carol and I hiked together, and we took several breaks to catch our breath on the switchbacks. I kept working on my parody song to make the time pass more quickly, and soon I had most of it together. I started taking videos too so I could make a full music video at the end :)

We got to the water source around lunchtime and ate with Songbird. The three of us stuck together after that.

Pretty soon, we hit snow. Pulling on our microspikes, we continued following the seitchbacks until eventually, the trail just went straight up the side of the mountain.

The snow climbing was exhausting, but we could also sense how close we were to the top.

We pressed onward, and after a grueling climb, we made it to the ridgeline. From here, we had a spectacular view and we were so close to the summit. After one more steep uphill, we made it! The flag flapped in the breeze, and the view from the top was majestic.

After lots of fun photos and videos at the top, we knew we needed to press on to get to our campsite.

We headed down from the summit towards Little Jimmy Campground. There was still quite a bit of snow covering the trail higher up, so we kept our spikes on until it seemed to clear. We took them off and hiked downhill, but eventually we came across more snow. There was a bushwacked trail though just up from the snow, so we took that as often as we could to avoid the snow. It was steep and tiring though.

The trail went up another ridge with more snow, and we realized we'd probably be night hiking into camp. Even so, it was an absolutely beautiful evening. We hiked amidst a sea of cloud, and I could see Mt. Baldy and Baden-Powell from our spot on the trail.

The sun began to set as we traversed our last bits of snow. We began to descend steeply towards the campground, and pulled out our headlamps as it got darker. We knew there was a spring right before the camp, and we groaned when we saw it was a steep downhill off the trail.

I trudged down with my bottles and water bladder to fill up 3 liters, and when I got back up the hill and sat down, I noticed that the water bladder was leaking

Ugh. I strapped it to the top of my pack and decided to deal with it at camp, since we were almost there. Unfortunately as we walked up the hill in the dark, I could feel a dribble of water running down my arm :/

At last, we arrived at the campground and dropped our packs by a picnic table where a guy was making dinner. I dealt with the leaky water first, putting it into my extra bladder, and then started dinner with Carol as Songbird got her tent up.

There were several other people at this spot with us, but there was plenty of room, so I found a free spot after dinner and set up, ready for a good night's sleep after a hard but beautiful day.

Day 35 // 16.8 miles (plus extra mile from roadwalk detour)

PCT Mile 400.6

I slept in today, my body exhausted from the tough day yesterday. I heard the pitter patter of rain on my tent which didn't really motivate me to bounce out of bed. I ate poptarts in my sleeping bag and slowly got ready for the day. I packed up most of my stuff inside the tent and then got it down as quickly as I could.

I threw on my rain jacket and headed out at 9:30, noticing that Carol and Songbird were already gone. I hoped to catch them, but I wasn't sure if I would until the end of the day.

Originally I had hoped to go 20 miles for the day, but I mentally began to revise that plan as I noticed on Guthook's that I had a 5 mile road walk detour that added an extra mile compared to the PCT.

As I began hiking, wet snow began to fall and quickly turned into a chilly rain. I already had my pack covered and my rain jacket on, but it was chilly! I covered my hands with the sleeves of my rain jacket and kept walking.

I eventually got to a parking area where I saw a few people that I didn't know, and after taking a minute in the bathroom to make sure everything was waterproofed, I started a steep climb. I was huffing and puffing up the hill, but if I stopped too long, I got cold. It was a tough morning to say the least, but I stayed as positive as I could, even soaked to the bone.

I managed to make it to the top of the climb as the rain let up a bit, and as I pushed on, I saw Joy and Hawkins setting up their tent around noon. They had been up early and had already done 15 miles, so they were ready to get dry and make hot chocolate. I was a bit jealous, but I knew I had further to go.

I made it down to the picnic area where the road walk detour started. Because of an endangered species of frog that is native to the area, the next 4 miles of trail were closed.

I found a bathroom with an awning and sat underneath to eat lunch. I quickly got cold and had to dig out my puffy and put it over my damp shirt. I ate quickly so that I could keep moving - I was too cold to sit still.

I packed up and began heading down the road. Highway 2 was open, but the whole time I was following it, only one camper van passed, headed the opposite way as me. I guess people don't like windy scenic drives on foggy, rainy days. I passed a few parking areas, and eventually I made it to the side trail that led to the PCT again.

I walked past an empty campground and got on the side trail. I hadn't seen a single person since lunch time, so I was feeling a bit lonely, especially in the yucky weather. I decided to turn on an audiobook I downloaded, which ended up actually being a 6-session seminar on The Power of Vulnerability by Brené Brown. So good.

I made it back to the PCT, filtered some water, and kept climbing. There were more steep climbs than I realized, and the rain kept going, off and on. I tried not to get discouraged and focused on the audio sessions. I laughed and teared up at some of the topics and stories Brené shared. One of the biggest things that struck me is that we either own our stories, or we stand outside them and try to hustle for our worthiness. It's easy to try to hide the parts of ourselves that we don't like, but owning up to our imperfections and the messy parts of our stories actually means that we get to write the ending to those things.

I grew more and more tired as the day wore on and the rain picked up again. I started another climb and felt totally done. I started to cry from pure frustration and exhaustion. I sat on a log, caught my breath, and just admitted that I was mad at the trail and that I was just tired. I slowly began to move back uphill, finally making it to the top.

I had a few more miles to make it to where I wanted to camp, and I took lots of sit breaks to get there, but I did. I rounded the corner and saw the Camp Glenwood cabin. YES. Time to get warm and dry. The cabin was a boy scout spot, but we heard we were allowed to use the bathrooms and camp by the picnic tables.

I whipped my tent up by two others - thankfully the rain had stopped - and it felt so good to get something dry on. I made a hot Mountain House meal of Chili Mac and snuggled into my sleeping bag.

Day 36 // 20.6 miles

PCT Mile 421.2

I woke up to the sound of rain on my tent - it had been coming down pretty hard all night. I decided to sleep in a bit more to see if it would let up, and eventually it did.

I was super thankful for the sunshine the was poking out from behind the clouds. At the first water source, I bumped into a day hiker named Dudley who pulled out a bag of apples and bananas and shared them with me. So sweet!

I started a gentle uphill section and saw a guy named Downhill that I met near Baden-Powell. I got a bit of service and checked the weather. It looked like there wouldn't be rain today after all!

I finished the Brene Brown series after the main part of the climb - seriously loved it. I enjoyed the views from the ridge, but saw that there were some big clouds pouring rain from afar. I kept winding around the mountain, and soon two day hikers came up behind me. They also noticed the

store moving our way. We all started to hustle as the rain began and the clouds turned dark.

I quickly threw on my rain jacket and pack cover and put up my umbrella. Nearing the top of another ridge, I knew I needed to get down ASAP. Thunder was rumbling, and an exposed ridge is a terrible place to be if lightning is a threat.

The wind picked up and flipped my umbrella inside out and then blew the trash bag off my pack. I put the umbrella down, grabbed the trash bag, and started full on running the ridge to get down. Thankfully it was a short one, and I was off the top in 5 minutes or so. Even so, it was freaky to be up there in a rainstorm. I booked it down towards the fire station, and I managed to make it there in good time.

I got down there and saw Kool-Aid and two others, Jon Snow and Pierre, filling up water. They had waited out the storm in the nearby bathroom.

It started to rain again so we all grabbed our stuff and put it in the bathroom again. Thankfully, this one passed after about 15 minutes.

Kool-Aid and I went a few more miles uphill and managed to find flat spots by a road. Not the greatest spot, bit with the rain sprinkling again, we quickly got set up.

I tried something new for dinner - easy Mac with instant potatoes. Basically a bomb of carbs. Not my favorite though, definitely too bland. The rain let up and a beautiful sunset appeared behind Kool-Aid's tent.

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