Day 22: 30 Miler

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Day 22: PCT Mile 389.2 to 390.2 (1 mile), endangered frog detour to 394.0 (4.8 mile); to mile 418.6 (24.6 mile). Total: 30.4 mile (48.9 km)!

Wow! My first 30 miler.

I knew I could push big miles today but I did not think I had a 30 in me. Terrain for the day was mostly flat or descending on a good grade with the exception of a 5 mile climb midday. The climb was really well graded and no problem at all.

First thing this morning I had to detour around a closed section of the PCT. It’s closed for an endangered species of frog. While the trail in this section is situated up high and I’m assuming the frog lives in the gully lines, there are a couple of creeks that I guess are fairly important for the frog that the Parks Service don’t want a bunch of hikers taking water from or more importantly not washing in.

I wanted to do the detour which is on the Angeles Crest Highway yesterday but just didn’t have it in me. But getting out the way first in the morning works well with very little traffic at 5:30am. A few miles on the road then a side trail, the Buckhart Trail, had to be taken to get back onto the open section of the PCT.

The Buckhart was great. A nice wide, flat track following down along a crystal clear creek.

Soon back on to the PCT there was a small climb that had to be dealt with which had my sun cap completely saturated and dripping off the brim – yuck so early in the day.

The trail then moderated for the bulk of the day, descending on an easy grade. This made for fast walking.

By 10am I’d reached another milestone, the 400 mark and I felt great. This was just near an old Parks building called Camp Glenwood and an important water spot for PCTers. There were 5 or 6 other hikers gathered including Guru who I haven’t seen for about a week.

Filling up I quickly moved on, wanted to see how far I could get today. My aim was the Mill Creek Fire Station as they have a water spigot and there is camping in a car park adjacent.

The trail was awesome and made for fast walking, moving down through the forest and eventually back into more desert terrain.

The big climb for the day came and went and running low on water I grabbed a top up from a spring near the summit. Here I came across another 3 hikers sitting in the shade and enjoying the cool water, probably the coldest source I’ve taken water from thus far. But no matter how refreshing and clear it looks, all water on the trail must be treated. I’m using a Sawyer Squeeze filter on this trip and it works a treat.

Reaching the summit of the climb I was stoked. By this stage I had 23.5 miles in already and the next 7.5 were all down hill to the fire station.

I made it by quarter to 6 which was a surprise as I was expecting to need to walk until dark at 8pm to get 30 miles in.

There were a bunch of other hikers here, some I’ve been playing leap frog with all day, others new but there was one familiar face that stood out – Nancy. Apparently I’ve made up enough ground to catch her up even after taking a day off in Wrightwood. Guru followed in a half hour later. Around ten of us sat around the car park like bums cooking dinner and recalling the day.

We’ve made a tent city the the Occupy movement would be proud of, although a lot fancier gear than blue tarpaulins.

Getting here today is perfect as it sets me up well for the next few days. I can get to the Acton KOA tomorrow which leaves only 10 mile the following day to get to Agua Dulce for a nero and resupply. In my initial planning for this trip I had the Wrightwood to Agua Dulce section down as 5 days but I reckon I can do it in 3.5 now.

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