Miles: 374.8 to 400
Mileage: 25.2; plus an extra 1.1 from the road walk
Hiking Mt. Baden-Powell was the first order of the day. It was 40 switchbacks to the top. Most were gentle; some were fiercely steep. At the first drifts of snow, Richard and I paused briefly to throw snowballs at each other.
The layers we took off lower down after the morning chill gave way to the exertion of climbing were put back on. Despite very little wind and bright sunshine, it’s still chilly above 9,000 feet.
We had the summit to ourselves. According to the register, a 2012 southbounder who has been sectioning the desert again this year was up there just before us. Her name is Tour Guide. She is very friendly and talkative.
After enjoying the view and eating some snacks, we started the descent. Some hikers take the option of walking around Baden-Powell to avoid the steep ascent and descent. But walking the ridge down from the summit was a very cool section of trail and one I would have been sorry to miss.
The sky was clear to the north, so we could see some of the Mojave Desert. To the south, Los Angeles was completely under clouds.
We stopped briefly at Little Jimmy Spring and then headed down, down, down to Highway 2 again. We had one more climb before the Endangered Species detour.
This time we went near the summit of Mt. Williamson but not over it. The ascent, fueled by cookies, went well. A layer of fog was flowing up the valley covering the highway, so hiking up and out of it was cool.
Next came the roadwalk. The National Forest Service closed “until further notice” Cooper Canyon to protect the Mountain Yellow-legged frog. To avoid that section, PCT hikers must walk along Highway 2 for three or four miles, then rejoin the trail via the Burkhart Trail from the Buckhorn Campground. Three miles is a reasonable roadwalk, but nevertheless, my feet hated it. After just a mile or so they were burning. It was also weirdly cold, even in the sun.
At the campground, Richard and I found a picnic table in the sun and out of the wind to take off our shoes and rest.
Wanting to put in a few more miles that day, we pushed on until nearly dark. We waited until our GPS’s told us we were right at 400 and then found the nearest flat spot.