Day 19 – Turn And Face The Strange

Trail Camp to High Hill Camp
Mile 333.8 – Mile 351.9

Good morning sunshine

I had a pleasant stroll this morning down to the McDonald’s at Cajon Pass. What?! There are three strange and remarkable things about that first statement. Let’s start with ‘pleasant stroll’.

Hummin’ and a cracklin’

It could be that ridding myself of the two upstarts put everyone in a better mood. Or it could have been those two Vitamin I’s (ibuprofen) I popped at about 2am to soothe my aches. In any case, I was surprised and delighted about how well my feet felt as I broke camp. Everything was just a bit wet with morning dew but didn’t take long to dry using the sun’s first rays. In high spirits,  I followed the trail along some power lines that crackled and popped as if competing with the crickets gossiping in the chaparral.

Now that’s a trail sign

‘Down to Cajon Pass’ should not have surprised me but in car centric thinking, you drive up and over passes. I suppose it is called the Pacific Crest Trail so at least when we are talking about highway passes, Interstate 15 in this case, I should be thinking down.

Hiker hunger heaven

‘McDonalds’ ?!? It has been many a roundup since this cowpoke darkened the door of the golden arches. People said the trail would change me and here now is proof. I arrived while breakfast was still being served and had a large OJ, 3 pancakes, double hash browns, and an English muffin. I just had time to scoot over to the gas station mini-mart for a 32oz Gatorade before returning for the lunch menu, topping off my caloric orgy with a Filet-o-Fish sandwich. Hunger will indeed change a person.

Round 1

There was quite a group of hikers (hard to miss em) mixed in with the throngs of weekend road trippers. Lego (so named for his practice of carrying his son’s LegoMan character and posting trail pics on Instagram that include the small hero @pcthiker17) hurtled by me on the way this morning not so much for the food I think but because he was out of smokes. Neon (he of the ever present mirrored sunglasses) was there too but the master of ceremonies was a mobile trail angel named Legend.
Legend hiked the trail in 2013 and has outfitted his camper truck to be the PCT Support Wagon. He will spend a week or two in one strategic place helping hikers with whatever before pulling up stakes and relocating further up the trail.

The Gunslinger

Legend admired my leather hat since he also sports one and we traded hat stories. I’m almost sure my trail name is going to come from pine cone bombing story everyone seems to like. Legend suggested a few that still were not quite right. I expect I will see him again in Tehachapi.

The light at the end of the culvert

What goes down must go back up. After farewells, my stomach lurching and gurgling, uncertain of its new cargo, I wandered back into the barren and waterless hills that form the western buttress of Cajon Pass. Crossing over and under active railroad tracks I eventually escaped the immediate environs of Cajon Pass and also emerged from my food coma.

Up Swarthout Canyon

Then it was up Swarthout Canyon to reach some wide sweeping vistas. Peering through the befouled smoggy air to the south (I think coming from Riverside) I could all the way back to San Jacinto. More immediately I could see my whole day’s progress at a glance.

All in a day’s work. Cajon Pass overlook

With only 18 miles to go tomorrow I was able to stop early today and relax at my hilltop camp. Hummingbirds have been whizzing right above my tent hoping that maybe the bright orange clips mean nectar. Alas not.

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