Trail angels with waffles

PCT miles 369.5 to 386.1 – Wrightwood, CA to Islip Saddle – Total PCT miles 386.1

Many, many thanks to the Johnson family-an entire family of trail angels-who kindly hosted us in Wrightwood on Friday evening!

This morning started out with a delightful breakfast of waffles, strawberries, coffee, orange juice, lots of lady bug kisses, and Star Wars trivia! Their kids were some of the nicest most adorable children I’ve ever met. They were excited about their upcoming summer vacation and shared their toys, told us stories, and played games with us. So sweet! The Johnson family had opened up their home to us, when we found them in a book of trail angels at the Mountain Hardware. (Aside: Memorial Day weekend is NOT the time for PCTers to stumble into Wrightwood and expect to get a hotel room. It’s a busy weekend for the town thanks to its annual yard sale bonanza.)

Though the Johnson’s were already hosting two other hikers, they agreed to make room for Gabriel and me.  So kind! We got to take showers, do laundry and sleep in a comfortable spot. And it turned out that that the two hikers they were already hosting were Justin and Li An, who’d we just met that day and were soon to be our good friends.  Such serendipity is part of the magic of life on the PCT!

Becky and two of the Johnson children delivered us back to the Inspiration Point trailhead and we were on the trail before 9:30. Being a Saturday and Memorial Day weekend, there were lots of folks out on the trail and we met some really nice marathon runners and other hikers who told us they dream of someday hiking the PCT. All Gabriel and I could say was: “Do it! It’s been wonderful so far and we love everyday.” We wish these folks well in pursuing their PCT dreams and are reminded of how grateful we are to be living our dream.

After descending about 1,000 feet from Inspiration Point we were at Vincent Gulch Divide (aka Graylan Vincent Pass) and it was time to hike up and over Mt. Baden-Powell. Mt. B-P is a 9,400-footish peak that’s a lovely walk-up with a little snow and some altitude. Given the ease and popularity of the trail (3,000 feet of gain in about 4 miles), it’s a lot like hiking Mt. Si. Only instead of scraping the 4,000-foot range, B-P would be one of the tallest peaks in Washington State. Alas it’s not in California’s 100 highest. The top of B-P was nice and breezy, with a sea of clouds below toward Los Angeles. We admired the view for a few minutes, got a snack out of the wind and then descended the slope to hike a few more miles.

The views and forests of the San Gabriel Mountains were beautiful and we really enjoyed walking up and down and around the ridges of this lovely range. Late in the afternoon, after a nice lounge stop the clouds started to blow over the mountains and descend onto the north side of the hills, well-timed as we we’re descending to water and a final camping location for the evening. Between Little Jimmy Springs and the same named camp we met Rainer, Sourdough and Dan from Iowa. All really nice guys and great folks to share a little camp fire with on a misty evening.

Hoping to get out of the mist we descended a few more miles down to Islip Saddle. The mist stayed with us, but we found a picnic table and some detour info to puzzle over. So we called it a day. We felt it was “not too shabby” to have started hiking late in the day-for us-gone over the highest point on the trail in the southern California and made 17 miles. We celebrated with some avocado in our cheesy black bean dinner dish and stayed nice and dry in our tent all night.

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