Day 37 - A Long Sunny Climb

In the night, I heard the rustle of something small and furry.  Concerned that it might be rodents that want to eat my food and might chew on my stuff, I rustled my tent.  It turned out to be rabbits, Tanya found rabbit droppings in the morning.  We had some new neighbors, Willem and a guy from San Diego with camo pants.  They had night hiked in last night.

I got ready before Tanya and  Matt, but I didn't mind waiting.  Good thing we waited, because we met Amy at the water cache.  She's a trail angel from Wrightwood.  She brought kale smoothies, strawberries and cornbread in addition to the water.  It was so good, the smoothie had coconut milk, fruit and loads of kale.  She also offered to pick up our packages so we don't have to rush to get to town for the limited hours on Saturday and we traded numbers to meet up when we get to town.

Frim the water cache, it was a climb all day to get to the campsite 15.7 miles away.  We were heading into the San Gabriel Mountains.  Most of what we walked through was burnt from a fire with no shade.  It was breezy at first, sunny and a nice temperature.  We were carrying a lot of water, because we won't reach the next water until tomorrow morning, just before Highway 2 to Wrightwood.

I felt good, booking in the beginning and left Matt and Tanya. I was smoothie powered.
There were amazing views all day long, and not much shade until the end of the day when you don't need it.  The wind picked up during the day, blowing hard as we ascended ridges with steep drop offs.  Sometimes the trail is on the very top of a steep ridge, so you could fall off either side.  There were places where the trail is washed out, where dirt has eroded from above and covering the trail.  The footing is tricky in those places, the dirt is loose.  It makes me nervous, but I get through it using my poles.  There are also some trees across the trail you have to go over or around.

There were three guys who passed us back and forth a few times, speaking another language.  Korean?  Japanese?  Chinese?  I'm not sure.  They smile and say hello, but I don't think they speak much English.
Tanya found sunglasses that fit over glasses, they are grandma sheek.  I'm keeping them.  At the same place, one of my ziploc bags caught a breeze and was gone down the ridge.  I bemoaned the fact that I'm not Leave No Trace (LNT) anymore.  I left a trace!  Tanya joked "We can't hike with you anymore."

I took the lead again, my natural pace seems to be a little faster than Matt and Tanya now that I'm over that flu.  It's ok, just means I get longer breaks.  I finally reached the first decent shade of the day at 3 pm.  Pine trees, finally!  I waited twenty minutes for Matt and Tanya, they had a break earlier.

I met Kevin and Hannah while waiting, they were really nice and friendly.  Kevin is from Maine.  I was tired and let Matt lead with Tanya in the middle.  At some point, Matt asked Tanya how I was doing and she looked back and responded. "She's choppering".

Now that we're in the pine trees, the wind picks up and I'm so cold.  I put on my rain jacket and down puffy.  My legs feel zombified, like they're all out of energy but I'm moving them anyway.  I start eating all the bars in my pockets.  The cold spurs the hiker hunger.

The sun has set behind the hill by the time we get to the campsites.  There are way more than three, but the wind is blowing fast through the trees on the hill.

Matt had signal and texts Amy.  She offers for us to stay with her the next night and have more smoothies.  Yes!

Does a name change you?  I feel both more badass and also somewhat more cartoon-ish with my new trail name.  Like I'm the wacky sidekick in Matt and Tanya's feature film.  Chopper.  Maybe I'm starting to feel like a third wheel.  I don't think they mind, I'm not like breathing down their necks all the time.  I miss Mouse, I'm so glad he's getting back on trail at Agua Dulce.  I enjoy hiking with Matt and Tanya a lot, they're fun and they can handle a little dark humor.  I hope we can all four form a group.  It would be nice to have a group of four, it's definitely enough people to handle when one person is having a bad day, but not so many that it's hard to find campsites.


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