AsABat's Pacific Crest Trail - California Section D

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From May 23 to 28 I hiked all of Section D from Cajon Pass on I15 to Agua Dulce.

I started early from Cajon Pass hoping to beat the heat. Thankfully I carried five liters of water, as there was no water on the trail other than some nasty bug-infested water in the trough at Bike Spring. Climbing through the Mormon Rocks, I looked back on McDonalds and up to the snowy peaks I would soon reach.

Climbing above Cajon Pass, looking over the Mormon Rocks back towards McDonalds Heading up towards the snow
Nineteen miles later, I found a camp site with water melting fast from a large snow melt. Six thruhikers later joined me. The desert cities lit up as I fell asleep. The next morning I looked down on Interstate 15 that, visible last night, was now shrouded in mist.
Morning mist Morning mist looking down on Cajon Pass. The freeway is barely visible on the left side of the picture
Just a bit further, the others dropped down to Wrightwood for resupply. I continued up towards the snow.
Looking down to Wrightwood Still climbing towards the snow
There were good views of Mount Baldy and the Sheep Creek Wilderness. At Vincent Gap at Highway 2, I could see the damage on the closed highway.
Sheep Creek Wilderness Damaged highway
Taking a short nap at Vincent Gap, I was awakened by Tombstone and Tarzan, who had worked at Mataguay Scout Reservation with my son Zaphod. They invited me to join them for the week. We started up Mount Baden Powell in early afternoon. After a short climb, we encountered solid snow. I had been carrying and ice axe and 10-point crampons, so I put them on. The others just had trekking poles. The afternoon snow was very soft, but steep. I can go long distances on easier trail, but go very slowly uphill. I contemplated going back and walking the road, but Tombstone and Tarzan waited for me. Thanks, guys! The crampons were not really needed, but the ice axe was useful once when the snow I was standing on slide out from under me. At one point, we heard and then saw a large tree fall about a hundred yards from us.
View from Vincent Gap Climbing Mount Baden Powell
We camped that night right on the trail at the summit trail. It was quite windy, but nice to be camped high with fine views.
Tarzan still asleep on the trail to Baden Powell Looking down from Baden Powell to the desert
The next morning, we climbed Mount Baden Powell.
Old tree near Baden Powell The PCT route from Baden Powell. We climbed the peak and walked the ridge rather than make this traverse.
Tombstone and Tarzan on top of Mount Baden Powell Tombstone and me on top of Mount Baden Powell
From Baden Powell, we followed the snow-covered ridge west, sometimes walking on clear trail, sometimes on snow, taking care to stay clear of the large cracks on the mostly-collapsed cornice. While there was often no snow on the south slopes, they were steep and loose rock, so the snow was often easier walking.
Looking south from Baden Powell The ridge we walked west from Baden Powell
Using map and compass and sometimes GPS, we made our way towards Windy Gap. Approaching the gap, we followed tracks that dropped away from the gap. Rather than climb back up, we followed those tracks down to a cool stream and the closed highway. Since the opportunity does not arise very often, we sat in the middle of the highway and cooked lunch.
We ate lunch in the middle of State Highway 2 A highway sign stating the obvious
Now walking on the road, we passed many avalanches and landslides.
The highway buried under 20 feet of snow, rock, and trees Another landslide across the highway
Highway tunnels to avoid Mount Williamson The PCT Golden Spike Monument in Soledad Canyon
The next two days we spent walking on easier and drier terrain past Mill Creek Summit and North Fork Saddle. The trail then drops steeply into Soledad Canyon. We spent the night at an RV park on cool grass and ordered pizza and salad for dinner. The next morning the heat finally broke, and we had a pleasant walk past Vasquez Rocks to Agua Dulce. The next morning I said goodbye to Tombstone and Tarzan, wishing them and the other thruhikers well as I returned home.
Entering Vasquez Rocks Vasquez Rocks

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