April 24, 2018
The PCT has taken a westward turn, and joined the Silver Moccasin Trail at Vincent Gap on Hwy 2. Named in 1942 by the Boy Scouts of America, this trail was created and used first by Native Americans, then settlers. This section of the PCT, in 1968, became a new designation of an old trail.
Mt Baden-Powell was our first event of the day. Named for Lord Baden-Powell, founder of the Boy Scouts, the trail took us to 9,399 feet in elevation, using gently sloping switchbacks.
Near the top, a delightful sight greeted us. A 1,500 year old limber pine, named for another Boy Scout, Wally Waldron, stood on the edge of the final ridge leading to the peak of the mountain.
Roots exposed, this ancient tree inspires awe!
On the top, we met Kristof, a PCT hiker from Germany.
“Isn’t this incredible?” I asked. “Sunshine, no wind, a view for miles. What do you think of this mountain?”
“Yes, it’s nice,” Kristof’s face was reserved. “But it is too…” his hands waved as he groped for the correct word. “Not clear.”
“Hazy,” I suggested.
“Smoggy,” Jay supplied.
We looked again at the view. Los Angeles was somewhere out there. But we had no expectations of seeing the city. We were just glad to be above the smog, happy in the crystal air.
On top of Mt Baden-Powell with incredibly beautiful weather!
The Boy Scouts placed a monument on top of the mountain with a quote from Lord Baden-Powell. Upon reading the words, I thought, ‘If only all children could learn in this way! And what a cool description of the inner workings and learnings of a thru-hiker!’
The Scout training is effected by encouraging the boy through his own enthusiasm to develop himself as an efficient citizen, to create his own character and his individual self-discipline from within. This is education.
-Robert Baden-Powell, July 4, 1916
The trail continued up and down along ridges for many miles. Near dinner time, we came to Little Jimmy Spring, a welcome source of clear, cold water.
Soon after the spring, Jay stopped and pointed to several white-headed woodpeckers checking tree trunks for their own dinner!
Our last mountain of the day, Mt Williamson, set over-worked muscles to protesting. As we climbed, we were enchanted to see manzanita bushes, heavy with flowers, lining the path. Each set of bushes hosted a pair of hummingbirds, busy flitting in and out between branches and blossoms.
As evening tiptoed towards night, we found a flat spot on a small ridge edge halfway down Mt Williamson. A beautiful end to a very long and eventful day.
P.S. Many people have commented on my shoes while hiking. However, when a hummingbird buzzed my feet today, I had to admit – perhaps these shoes are a bit bright!
April 25, 2018
We hiked through several elevations today, too high and dry for many flowers, but saw different pine trees, each kind in its own elevation niche.
April 26, 2018
Today was notable for three large black and yellow butterflies (perhaps a type of swallowtail), a spotted towhee, a lizard willing to pose for the camera, and many beautiful wildflowers.
April 27, 2018
We chose to eat breakfast at a clearing on a hillside. While there, a hummingbird with an electric green back hovered in front of us, switching its tail back and forth, wings a blur of motion. We watched, enchanted, as it hovered for a few seconds, then darted away.
At lunch time, we stopped in the shade of an enormous live oak tree. A raven sat above us, making rhythmic sounds, not croaks or caws, just noises. Jay said it sounded like temple blocks. I felt we were being entertained with a percussion concert!
Sometime today I realized that the PCT was no longer sharing space with the Silver Moccasin Trail. In fact, the two trails had diverged at Three Points, several miles ago. I did enjoy feeling as if we were sharing Scouting history while the trails had been joined.
This evening we camped in Mattox Creek Canyon, on a flat sandbar. No water in the creek, but many birds and trees made this a lovely campsite. A couple from Germany, Thomas and Katrin, chose a nearby sandbar for their tent.
Two ravens had a great deal to say as we put up our tent and ate dinner. I’m sure they were commenting on the possibilities of stealing food from that group of two-leggers! As the evening progressed (and no food for birds materialized), the two ravens flew high above us, playing with the winds coming off the canyon rim. As I brushed my teeth, I watched shadows creep up the canyon wall while birds called good night.