Monday April 11, 2022
Start: Buckhorn Campground
End: campsite by Gobblers Knob
Elevation gain/loss: 8848/8842
I woke up at 5:20am, after falling asleep at 9pm. I had a solid night of sleep, hunkered down by the bathroom. I was hiking by 6am, walking the roadwalk section of the endangered frogs reroute. I guess a weekday from 6-7am was the optimal time, because I saw no cars.
Climbing up towards Baden-Powell, the snow wasn’t too bad, except around Mt Burnham where there was a steep sidehill traverse. I took my time, kicking steps into the hard frozen snow. I only postholed once, falling up to my hip in the soft snow underneath. Descending the south side of Baden-Powell was brutal, with more than a mile of snow and ice, with no clear path to follow. People had ignored the switchbacks and just gone straight up, but there were still dozens of paths, many which were in the wrong direction. I had the best luck descending on the untouched snow, since it was softer and easier to use controlled slides. Despite that, I wiped out 3-4 times and got pretty wet.
Within 0.5mi of the parking lot, I passed by 3 older teen boys who looked like thru-hikers. They were giggling to each other as I approached, didn’t say hi, and then rudely made loud comments to my back about how “unfriendly” I was. This pissed me off and didn’t make me want to be overly helpful to anyone else. When I got to the parking lot, there was another group of 4 older teen/early 20s thru-hikers. They were loudly mocking the forest ranger postings on the information board at the trailhead, and it made them sound like pretentious entitled assholes. They ignored me for the most part, except to abruptly ask me about the weather up top. I had to interrupt them to ask about the weather going south. Their response was unspecific and unhelpful. They walked off without acknowledging me again.
After they headed out, I put on my rain jacket and pack cover, since I’d walked into the undercast clouds I’d been seeing all day from above. The wind was howling and the visibility was terrible. Thankfully, once I hiked out of the saddle, the wind died down and the clouds would lift from time to time.
I hiked the 5-6 miles to Highway 2 and where most people head to Wrightwood. I saw two groups of hikers get picked up in the 10 minutes I was there. I decided to push on since it was only 4pm and I really wanted to finish the next day. The windchill and damp clouds was truly spectacular – getting down to the high 20s. I just kept moving, though I had to wear my jacket and gloves to stay warm enough.
I kept pushing onward to descend and get to a warmer, less windy area. I managed to achieve the first though not the second. I hiked into the night, both because I wanted to get to a warmer elevation and because there was nowhere to camp. I finally came to a saddle with 2-3 small campsites but the wind was howling through at 40+ MPH and so I kept going.
The next possible campsite was 2.5 miles away, and when I got there, there were already two tents set up in the 2 spaces on the side of dirt road and they were nearly collapsing every time the wind whipped through. The only remaining vaguely flat spot was on gravel, with broken glass and bullet shell casings everywhere. It was a creepy area out in the open, and I was worried my sleep mat would get damaged. So I sighed and kept going.
Another 0.5mi later, there was a spot with 3 tent spots among some large bushes to block some of the wind, and there was only one tent there already. I was greeted by Speak-Up at the campsite at 9pm, where he was tenting with his wife. We talked for a minute and then he went back to his tent and I set up my cowboy camp, using a dozen rocks to hold my ground tarp down in the wind. It was only 38 degrees when I went to bed and it got colder, as the wind kept blowing by. I put my tarp inside my sleeping bag as a bag liner of sorts and that helped a lot. I was cozy, provided I kept my face inside my bag. That also protected my eyes from the dust and dirt being blown around and made it darker, since the half moon was glowing bright enough that I didn’t need a headlamp to set up camp.