The Summiting of Mount Baden-Powell
Beginning Elevation = 7,350
Peak Elevation = 9,406
Ending Elevation = 8,900
Weather: Sunny and blue sky, very nice
I’m writing this on the morning of the 10th, so hopefully I remember all the good details! Prior to this post, I’ve written a draft of my daily log while in my tent the same night, but I wasn’t feeling it that night.
My overnight turned out to be not as peaceful as the one prior. There was another loud hiker talking on his phone and my hosts seemed to want to be up late too. The wooden cabin walls don’t do much for sound proofing. Yesterday’s food and drinks didn’t agree with me either to put it lightly. But in the morning, I still felt refreshed and ready to jump back on the trail!
I got a ride from my hosts to the trailhead where I’d come into town… Inspiration Point.
Do not fear…that’s not Mount Baden-Powell. Not sure the names of those peaks, but I won’t be going up them. I did some stretching and tried adding some blue duct tape to my shoes where the mesh and rubber toe guard are pulling apart…
Then, at 9:15am, I was back on the PCT continuing my march to Canada. The trail rose steadily right away and then descended quickly, the first test for my rested leg. It performed wonderfully! I was so dang happy, but also realized it was still early on and I had some serious stuff ahead of me today. But for now…what a difference a day of rest can make!
My duct tape plan though, didn’t perform near as wonderfully. I ripped it off very soon when it came apart from the mesh. I had great views right away of a “cloud ocean” off to the south. And then, of Mount Baden-Powell that I’d be climbing (second photo).
Like Mount San Jacinto, there had been a lot of talk among hikers about the trail conditions on the mountain…how much snow is there? How steep is it? Do you need micro-spikes? Do you need an ice axe? All the things. And there were mixed opinions and feelings about it. Some were skipping it altogether and walking the “closed to cars” Highway 2 around. Even my social media correspondent, Abram H, on the ground in Caledonia, Michigan had reported other hikers’ tales of the infamous Baden-Powell to me.
My plan was to give it a try and see what is was like with mine own eyes and if unsafe, I’d told myself I’d go back and circle around via the road.
A short way into my hike, I had a hot feeling on my heal. Stopped right away this time (this has happened once already) and found a little spot that’d rubbed. Slapped some moleskin on and I was good to go. I’m pretty sure this spot got softened up earlier in the morning when getting ready on my couch, the couch bit me as they sometimes do.
After 4.5 miles or so, the trail reached Vincent Gap, another parking lot/trailhead along Highway 2
Here I met Lion Heart. She seemed very familiar, but I couldn’t place her. She continued on ahead to tackle the mountain. While I rested, Two Shoe, Jo, and Pinata arrived. They were all going to walk the road, so after catching up for a bit, I started my climb solo.
It is only another 4 miles from Vincent Gap to the summit, but I learned quickly that it would be quite steep. Some of the steepest PCT hiking yet.
Essentially, it was a series of switchbacks most of the way up until the last stretch where there was too much snow to follow the trail, and so the footprint path opted for the straight up approach. For those who might not be familiar with the term switchback, it’s when the trail zig-zags along the side of mountain in order to make the trail more gradual. Here’s a photo to try and show what it’s like.
I took many many breaks. I loved getting to this bench. It was perfect so I could unclip my pack and get it back on without any lifting!
At some point I had my lunch of tuna roll-up and some Chex-Mix I’d packed that didn’t get finished in town. Around this time, I was joined by Paddles and Tidbit.
Here’s where the good trail ended and we started going up through the snow. I had my spikes on at this point.
It was quite steep, but the footprints were dug in deep and I felt I was getting a good hold.
Here’s Paddles and Tidbit defeating the mountain one energy draining step at a time…
And we made it!
I got up there with Sumi around 3:00pm and at most we spent a half hour hanging on the top. The actual PCT doesn’t go to the top, but rather stops short before the last short steep stretch. There was a funky old-looking tree at this junction where now other hikers were accumulating…Ranger Dan, Lion Heart, Juliana, and Marguerite were there. I sat and had some celebratory snacks.
While waiting, guess who comes barreling up the slopes towards us. None other than the legend herself…triple-crown bound Rampage, who dad and I had met early on. And then I figured out that Lion Heart is her friend who was with her back then. Apparently, I found myself among the super hiker group that I’ve been talking about recently and also the Rampage-led hiker heroes group. Or at least that’s what I’m calling them in my head. Hopefully, they don’t become rival groups like the Sharks and the Jets!
Soon, I set out along the trail again. There was still a lot of snow, but I was happy to find that it wasn’t as steep going down. The views were quite marvelous looking out over the cloud ocean. I loved seeing the mountain “islands,” and check out this odd ripple in the clouds I saw from above (second photo). The photo is zoomed in a bit.
I had intended to try getting to Little Jimmy Campground, another 5 miles from the mountain top, but feeling beat, stopped at this true gem of a spot 3 miles before. I could feel my leg getting sore, but more of a tired sore, not the pain I’d experienced before Wrightwood. So stopping sounded smart.
Juliana came by later and felt the same way. Super tired after the big climb and ready to stop, so she tented nearby.
I cooked up a Broccoli Cheddar Rice side and then spent the evening looking out over this amazing sunset.
Side-Note: I’ve forgotten to update y’all that I do indeed have the Poodle-Dog Bush rash. I have some on my left leg and a spot on my belly where I must’ve scratched and spread it. So far, the itch isn’t that bad, nothing compared to poison ivy reactions I’ve had before. But, it does seem to be spreading a bit, so hopefully things don’t get worse! For now, it’s very manageable.