Boy Scouts on Baden-Powell

May 27, 2017
Wrightwood to the Summit of Mt. Baden-Powell
Summit of Mt. Baden-Powell to Little Jimmy Camp
Pacific Crest Trail Thru-Hike: Day 23

We were very pokey getting going this morning, but finally got a hitch in the back of a pickup truck back to trail around 8:30. Summited Mt. Baden-Powell today, that's summit #2. I was frustrated by not being able to breathe very well, but I made it to the top. Several day hikers with small packs asked me on the way up if I was doing okay, or if I needed anything. I wanted to respond, bewildered, with

Yeah, I'm fine, this happens to be a difficult thing to do (in case you didn't notice, because you're hiking downhill). I'm climbing 4,000 feet and it's a lot harder with a full set of backpacking gear than it is with your 1L Camelbak. Dick. Put a shirt on.

Instead, it came out more like

"Yes, thank you for asking! Have a great descent!" (you fucking twat)

At the summit of Baden-Powell was my whole trail family, resting, relaxing, and cheering for me when I reached the top. Just before the summit there is a twisted, mangled, beautiful 1500-year-old Limber pine called the Wally Waldron Tree. It was a great place to rest before the final 100 uphill feet to the summit proper.

The PCT continues just below the summit and more or less follows a ridge to Little Jimmy Camp. I walked through a few burn areas, not sure if I would feel up to walking to Little Jimmy. I was hiking with Sam and Alex, when Sam stopped to go to the bathroom. We didn't see him for quite a while and then he came out of nowhere, sweaty and beet red. Turns out he had taken the wrong trail after going to the bathroom, hiking 2 miles downhill in the wrong direction. If you solve the logic, two miles downhill in the wrong direction means two miles straight uphill to get back on trail. Thus the beet red, sweaty state of Sam is explained.

We arrived at Little Jimmy Campground to about two hundred campers plus our entire trail family. One of my favorite things so far about thru-hiking is never knowing who you'll see at the end of the day, and then finding out it's all the people you want to see and spend your time with. Our trail family is feeling more and more like a family, not in exclusivity but in how much we support each other and just assume we're all going to end up together at the end of the day.

I really love the group I'm hiking with, it's a running narrative of candor and humor. Justin the Kiwi is outspoken and gregarious, but takes very well to being roasted. Sonya is honest and warm. Ben is quirky and unexpected, alternating between silly humor and stare-you-in-the-face frankness. Tyler and Madison look like Viking royalty, are unassuming and generous. Silver Fox keeps us in order and doesn't let you get away with any bullshit. Sam is the funniest, most self-deprecating person I've ever met, Colten is the best hiker and will openly contradict you if he doesn't agree. Flame starts out quiet but is sassy once she gets going, and doesn't seem to waste time on anyone who is full of baloney (are you starting to see a theme in the people I like spending time with?). 

Alex and I have decided to switch out almost all of our gear for the Sierra, given the state of the snowpack and our encounter with desert blizzard Maleficent. We're making the switch in Tehachapi, and will be using my Uncle Phil's mountaineering tent, Aunt Nicole's pack and zero-degree sleeping bag, and my parents' hiking boots. This gear is in addition to our bear canisters, ice axes, and crampons. It's going to be significantly heavier than our current arrangement. The only thing that will make up for the weight gain in all gear is that we're dropping to one tent between the two of us. 

Falling asleep was an ordeal. The boy scout convention at Little Jimmy had a late night game of werewolves and zombies. It was the classic boy scout arrangement of none of the kids actually knowing how to play the game because they just made it up and trying to play anyway despite fighting over the fake rules every 30 seconds. Try falling asleep while two dozen ten-year-olds are screaming at each other about the rules of a nonexistent game and you'll side with the scoutmaster on any side of every argument.

My highlight for the day was discovering the full extent of Sam's humor. That kid is so f-ing funny he could read the dictionary and I'd laugh.