Opening Statement

I went to the woods because I wished to live deliberately, to front only the essential facts of life, and see if I could not learn what it had to teach
~Henry David Thoreau, Walden

Thursday, May 18, 2017

PCT 6 - Wobbling and Preservation - Wrightwood to Cajon Pass - 27 PCT miles

Falling Snow Climbing out of Wrightwood

Leaving my ride at Inspiration Point above Wrightwood, I climbed into heavily falling snow, with visibility of 100 feet.  Within a minute another hiker came down the trail saying that he was going back to Wrightwood due to the conditions.  My plan was to hike south through the Angeles Forest until I got over into the next drainage, which would start around the border into the San Bernardino Forest.  For the next five hours I hiked through falling snow and graupel, passing many hikers going into Wrightwood who had been surprised to wake up that morning with snow on their tent.  Almost exactly on plan, less than a minute after passing the San Bernardino Forest sign I felt a welcome gust of warmer air and minutes later I was hiking on dry trail again.

Burn Zone
Part of this section runs through one of the more desolate burn zones I had encountered so far.  When you combine desert conditions, tree die-off due to beetle infestation, and a hot fire, the landscape can become dystopian.  I was just around this point in the trail when a 20-something hiker came bopping up the trail listening to music.  She popped out her earphones long enough to excitedly tell me that "THIS IS MY FAVORITE SECTION SO FAR!!!!!!"  PCT hikers have the most upbeat outward attitude of any people I have ever met.

On the morning of my second day in this section I realized that even my most positive attitude would not be enough to make my knees stop hurting.  After hiking over 500 miles I was experiencing consistent inflammation and pain, and decided that I should take a trail break of at least a week to let my knees recover.  Thankfully my wife Christine agreed to bring me home for a break the next day.  While I was still able to hike through 15 miles that day, it required a slow pace and I finished off the last of my aspirin.  I'm currently at home as I write this post, but expect to be back on the trail in less than two weeks.

Trains Coming Through Just Before the Freeway Crossing
Just before reaching the Cajon Pass freeway crossing the trail goes both over and under an extremely active rail route.  The combination of the mountain landscape and the rail lines reminds me of the early development of the Western states.  Even today there is something calm and inspiring in the movement of these enormous trains through the landscape.

Here is a link to my photos for this section:


  1. Rest those knees! By now you must have the pack as light as possible. Gotta think the added weight is taking a toll on your knees. Enjoying your narratives and pictures, Kevin! Spectacular stuff

  2. Sorry to hear you're having knee problems! Rest and ibuprofen!

  3. I know knee problems. Hope they (and you) are getting some good rest. When you are ready, the trail will be there. Keep on pushing towards your goal!