Wednesday, November 30, 2005

Cloudburst Summit to Aqua Dulce- October 2nd through 5th, 2005.

Bill Redman and I parked at the Saufley’s in Agua Dulce and got a ride up to the trailhead from Salt and Pepper. They had just finished the PCT in sections after four years! The have the perfect van for section hiking. It was the size of an airport van all fitted out for getting where you need to be to hike. We got there late and took off to Camp Glenwood in the dark with fresh peaches. It was an easy cool downhill. During the night I reached out to replace a tent peg that the wind blew out and tore a muscle in my side. It hurt like hell at times. The next day paralleled above SR-2 for a while with some shear cliffs and good views. The pines are healthy here and the forest looks very good. Sulfur Spring is verdant and we saw remnants of some sort of pagan ritual with sand made into a symbol and burnt incense sticks placed like birthday candles. We should have taken a picture. We passed a good spring after Sulfur springs running across the trail. It may have been Fountainhead Spring. The days were cool and the trail good. There has been some work done along this stretch. Some glimpses of the Mojave here as well. We ran into some ripe Blueberries. We’ll they aren’t Blueberries but they were blue, had a pit like an apricot, and were tasty. I ate about 20 and didn’t die. The trail down to Mill Creek Ranger Station is steep and long. We saw a bunch of footprints near days end and found that a bunch of firefighters from Oregon had used it to stay in shape. They had come down for the Topanga Fire as a reserve force. They have to carry a lot more weight than a hiker. It was hard finding a good spot near the Station for camp. The next day we crossed the Angeles Forest Highway to follow the crest west. We spent a surprising amount of time in the shade this day. We also ran into regular carpets of fallen acorns. We both fell several times on nature’s seasonal slip and slide. We passed below the prison camp on the north side and had great views of the mountains we must pass through. I can’t believe we have come so far. It was unimaginable just a few years ago. Once again we were paralleling a road, rarely used, for car campers, bicyclists and prisoners. Apparently the road was for a Nike Missle base, now defunct, near the end. I planted too much water for this trip so it was a pleasure to leave some for future hikers. Several times in the San Bernardino’s and Angeles Crest we walk along the crest of a long mountain and then finally leave it steeply at the end. Such was the case after Messenger Flats Campground when we zoomed down to North Fork Saddle Station a weird outpost which according to its caretaker of seven years, Todd, was the most isolated in the Angeles Crest: so isolated that there are no paved roads and no permanent Fire Fighters. It is a staging area for troubled times in the mountains. Todd has a dog, TV and the Internet and he likes it. He watches the place and paints the signs we see all over the mountains. It was very windy and he gave us permission to camp on the least windy side of the saddle. We cooked on a bare spot in the horse corrals. There is a special kind of weed here that stuck to everything. The next morning we got an early start down the edge of a long canyon. This was another day of being able to see the end of the hike from the beginning. There was a good flow of water in Mattox Canyon. We ran into a Skydiving instructor on his day off. He said he would pass us again on his way back. We thought that was pretty impossible until he did it. At Soledad Canyon road they are building a nice new trail building and parking. We crossed the road and thought we would find the trailer park we had read about for a snack but found we had gone to far north so we moved on. We found the monument to the completion of the PCT in 1993 vandalized by some idiot: a rare occurrence on the trail but still an annoyance. There are some strange giant monoliths of mud here that you pass around. It was a blustery day and we gripped the earth tenaciously to keep from being blown about. After a long hilly walk we passed under Highway 14. This long tunnel is not for the claustrophobic. We though it was really cool though. I took us on a wrong turn after the tunnel that took us 15 minutes to figure out. We entered the Vasquez Rocks Park and Bill said he recognized a place where the Lone Ranger and Tonto camped. I found the place underwhelming though the signature rocks near the parking area are remarkable. We exited the park, walked the road into Aqua Dulce, and had a great meal before walking over to the Saufley’s. We turned a 4 day trip into a 3 and I was wiped out. It took me days to recover. It still was a great trip. We start again in January.
I have had a terrible time adding pictures to this Blog. Please go here for photos from this trip

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