Mexican border to
Walker Pass (650 miles)
City to Wrightwood
City 13th May
We hit Highway 18 in worsening weather and decided to hitch down to
Big Bear City. Not surprisingly it took awhile to get a lift as we
must have looked a very dreary sight at the side of the road in blizzard
conditions. We were successful after Martina virtually jumped in front
of a pick-up in an attempt to get a lift. Desperation knows no bounds!
We collected mail from the post office then collapsed into a local
motel to dry out and await the end of the storm. We reckoned that
we would wait it out here for a day after the snow stopped to give
the snow a chance to melt from the trail.
Trail stopover’s were already beginning to attain a ritualistic status
– our appetite for food (particularly junk food) was enormous and
seemed only to be bounded by the shrinking size of our stomachs. At
Big Bear we had a huge Mexican meal, then were both gorging on huge
quantities of tortilla chips followed by ice cream as soon as our
stomachs had settled.
We also made the most of our time by repairing
any items and buying food for the next section of trail. My camera
had broken and, as I had sent it off for repair, I found a cheap temporary
replacement at a local Wal-Mart. Showers and washing our clothes were
also important (we only carried one set of clothes each with us to
reduce weight). After attending to these items and making some phone
calls and sending letters, the time fairly whizzed by. In this way
we spent a day and a half at Big Bear before we prepared ourselves
for returning to the trail in brightening sunshine the next morning.
It was now May 15th and the sun’s strength was strong on the remaining
snow such that it cleared at a rapid rate. Even so, it would take
maybe a couple of days of snow free weather to clear the snow completely
but we decided to move on anyway. Fortified with a ‘full-blown’ breakfast
of pancakes, chips, eggs at the Mexican café La Paws we posted our
forwarding box to the town of Aqua Dulce and managed to get a ride
back to the trail out to Highway 18.
It was very different conditions now from the blizzards of two days
ago. It was bright, sunny, if slightly chilly, and patchy snow remained
here at a height of 6,800 feet. Our rucksacks contained food for 6
days to get us to Wrightwood, 100 miles walking away and nestled in
the San Gabriel hills north of Los Angeles. We walked on to 6pm that
evening and camped on snow in the forest, melting snow for our meal.
Next day, after defrosting our boots, we hike on through patchy snow
and out into more open country.
Crossing Deep Creek, we stopped off at hot springs which flow
into the steep sided river. There were about 20 people bathing in
the pools here and - much to our amazement- most were nude!
were desperate for a dip and a rest so 'when in Rome' we stripped
off into the pools. It was delicious! The main creek acted as a perfect
cold dip contrast to the hotter pools. A highlight came when Martina
was offered drinking water from a guy dressed just in sandals and
a rucksack! We reluctantly dragged ourselves away after 2 hours relaxation.
The terrain now was a bit more arid as we followed Deep Creek then
past the huge Mojave dam via a wet creek ford. Passing Silverwood
dam the next day we stopped off at the Summit Valley Country Store
for breakfast. We sat outside munching whilst the owner delivered
us his rather right wing views on gun ownership, why everyone should
own a gun and how he had to be ready to defend himself from the state.
We took it in mostly in silence, reflecting on the road signs full
of gun shot holes and on the thankful lack of guns back in Scotland.
We were now
heading west, between the southern edge of the Mojave desert and the
northern outskirts of LA keeping to the high ground. On the 18th
May we made it to Interstate 15 and camped half a mile short of
the road out of sight in our own little sandy canyon. The San
Gabriels, our next destination, could be seen ahead cloaked in snow
and we ascended upwards on ridges to 7,300 feet where we found a high
campsite with snow patches handy for our water supplies. I had a sore
calf and was happy that
we could drop down to the town of Wrightwood
the next day for supplies and a rest. One of our aims of this trip was
to camp high up on mountains above the tree line as often as possible,
even if that meant carrying water up with us. The high camps can
provide fantastic sunset and sunrise views and cool mountain air- a
godsend in this dry dusty area. Here we could see back to the San
Jacinto and Bernardino mountains as well as to the nearby snowy peaks
such as Mt Bauldie. Martina was excellent working around the campsite
as I rested feeling sorry for myself and my sore calf.
day we walk on in clear air along the snow crusted ridge with the
path visible now and then. We lose any path completely as we descended
in deep snow down the steep north slopes to Wrightwood..........
Next Wrightwood to Aqua Dulce