Twig Adventures

Day 103: Cajon Pass

October 16th, 2018
Grassy Hollow Visitor Center mm 370 to Cajon Pass Interstate 15 mm 342
Distance: 28 miles plus a couple miles walking around town
0620 – 1600

I stayed warm overnight but it was very cold outside. I even took a benadryl so that I would sleep through the night. The wind continued to rage. I left on all my layers starting out in the morning, including my tights.

I was contemplating going into the town of Wrightwood, since I needed groceries and batteries for my Spot device. One mile from camp was a highway where I could hitch. But I got there at 7 am and there was no traffic. I couldn’t bear to stand around in the wind and cold waiting for a ride, so I continued on. The destination for the day would be the interstate. I was hoping to find the lithium batteries that I needed there at a gas station. If not, I could hitch to a town somewhere.

The trail rose above 8000′ briefly. The climb warmed me and I enjoyed some more views. Then it began dropping…all day it went down. Cajon pass was at around 3000′, so I did a lot of descending. The trail went along a ridge pretty straight, paralleling a valley that is the San Andreas fault and rift zone. I encountered a trail maintenance crew halfway down and stopped to chat. They were contracted by ACE (American Conservation Experience) and had been working on the PCT all summer, up and down. This was their very last day for the season. I thanked them for all their hard work by sharing some of my peachy ring gummies.

It was very pleasant walking the trail where they had worked. They had re-banked parts and cleared all the vegetation, including poodle dog bush. Earlier, I had to weave around a lot of it. From nearly 20 miles out, I could see the interstate. It looked so close, yet still so far away. Finally the trail dropped all the way to the rift valley and crossed it. There was a water cache at the road there but I still had enough, which I had gotten at the visitor center that morning.

It had become quite warm by then and I was grateful for the change. For NOBOs, the climb out of Cajon Pass can be brutally hot. But I was instead trying to escape the cold of the higher elevations. The wind still had a little bite to it. I crossed over and under several train tracks, marveling at how many trains there were and how many were double-stacked with containers. There was so much stuff coming in and out of LA through here. Then I crossed under the interstate. The traffic was crazy.

I was then able to leave the trail and head for the nearby McDonalds. I ordered something based on how many calories I could get, then went to all the gas stations looking for batteries. No dice, so I hitched into Wrightwood. I was lucky to get a ride right away with Anita, a trail angel. She was already hosting 3 hikers that night, no doubt all people I knew. She dropped me off at the hardware store, where I was able to get my batteries and fuel. I went next door to the grocery to also get my resupply done.

Getting back to the interstate took me 2 rides but it was fairly easy. I got to meet a nice couple Naya (from Chile) and Douglas, who were touring around SoCal with a giant dog. The dog went to town licking my ears from the backseat. I thought he might swallow me at one point. I split a hotel room with some other hikers, did a bunch more errands then hit the hot tub. It was a great way to finish a pretty efficient and productive day.

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