30th May 2019

McD and Wrightwood

Everyday a new experience on trail. Different scenery or friends, or even hiking tipsy during a gorgeous golden hour. The sun was setting and we had 3.5 miles to go. Hops and I had left Hollywood somewhere on trail and now we were looking for his tent. The first time we thought we saw it, it turned out to be a large rock. The next time we were sure and yelled ‘Hollywood’, only to discover it was a different tent. Finally we got to camp and found four other hikers, including Hollywood. We packed out a six pack of Budweiser from the bar and spread it amongst our fellow hikers. While enjoying this golden goodness, we discussed our day and what tomorrow held.

Tomorrow would be a big day: pizza on trail. PIZZA! All of us were excited. Only 10 miles and we could indulge in molten cheese, tomato sauce and other yummy ingredients. I dreamed about the pizza during the night and assume the others did to.

After an initial climb, the trail became relatively flat with some PUDs (Pointless Up and Downs). 5 miles in, I passed a power plant and the trail disappeared into a road walk for half a mile. When the trail resumed, it swiftly went over the crest of hill and Silverwood Lake appeared in sight. ‘Just follow this lake for 3 miles and you’ll be at the picnic area, with PIZZA!’, I told myself, while it was getting incredibly hot already.

By 11, I got to the picnic area. Hops followed shortly after and we called for pizza. We had to wait until 12:30 to order? Other hikers got in and didn’t (want to) believe us. Eventually, we settled down and waited. By 13:30, we had our beloved pizzas and soda. A large pizza and a 2 liter bottle of soda per hiker. It was so good, but way to much at the same time. I only had a bar for breakfast as I was anticipating pizza. Besides one slice, I ate the whole pizza.

Having waited out the heat of the day, we decided to hike on at about 17:00. Just two hours later, I pitched my tent and tried to sleep. My stomach was still battling the pizza-overload, making for a restless night.

The next morning, I skipped breakfast again. It was the day of the most anticipated McDonalds visits ever. Just 6 miles into the day we would see one of the best known signs on the PCT: ‘McDonalds .4 >’. All hikers had been talking about and looking forward to this since leaving Big Bear Lake or even before.

The trail followed a ridge before going over the crest. Bringing a large highway into sight. Long cargo trains slowly passed in and out of the background. It almost felt weird. We had been to towns and civilization in the weeks previous, but most of us had not seen so massive since leaving San Diego.

At 9:00, I got to an empty McDonalds. The first order was a breakfast muffin and a McFlurry. By 11:30 I felt it was time for my next order, a McChicken, Chicken McNuggets, a milkshake and fries. The last round is another ice cream. Before heading back to the trail, we drank some beers from the Chevron. At 15:00 we put on our packs and started hiking.

The stretch out of McD was 5 miles of small hills through a desert area with wonderful wild flowers, followed by 18 miles of serious elevation gains. All without a water source, so carrying 23 miles worth of water. Thanks to the food at McDonalds, I didn’t need water to cook. We decided to split the climb. do at least 10 miles out of McD. Leaving only 13 for the next day. Many hikers planned to do the same, so camping spots were scarce. I just stopped at 19:00 when I saw a large and flat enough spot to put my sleeping pad.

The next day would be my last on trail for a while. From Wrightwood, just 18 miles, I would go home to take care of visa issues. Immediately, the trail continued the climb we started the day before. It wasn’t brutally steep, but just steep and especially long enough, to break me by 10:00. McDonalds food wasn’t proving to be good fuel for hiking. Mind blown; Who knew?! The beautiful views on snow topped mountain were good motivation to keep on going.

Hops, Hollywood and I agreed to wait for each other at the highest point on trail to discuss what we would do. With just 5 descending miles to town, I was set on getting to town. Passing underneath ski-lifts while hiking down green ski slopes, the miles went by fast and before I knew it, I was at the road to Wrightwood.

This break from the trail is a nice time to look back at the first four weeks on trail.

  • When I hiked into Wrightwood, I had been on trail for 28 days, including zeros in Idyllwild and Big Bear Lake.
  • I hiked 369.3 official PCT miles, just short of 600 km.
  • Total elevation gain was 61.1782 feet or over 18km.
  • Total distance descended was 55.700 feet or just shy of 17 km.
  • I’ve seen zero bears and zero rattlesnake. I don’t know a hiker who’ve not seen at least one rattler.

After a zero in town, I picked up a rental car and drove to Orange County with Hollywood and Hops. Dropping them at Hops’ home before driving to Los Angeles myself. The next morning I would fly home for a while. My passport with US visa was stolen in South Africa and I had to go back home to take care of that.

My next posts will be about another adventure, taking care of my visa and a impromptu trip to Portugal while waiting for the US government.

In the meantime, you can follow me on Instagram.

Happy trails.

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