Sunday, May 20, 2012

Day 29: Highway 2 to Islip Saddle

Returning to the trail, we climbed into a mixed pine and fir forest along a ridge. As we hiked, we thought of the many footprints left on the trail before us. My brother Kevin has left many footprints here. Approximately 40 miles of the PCT is used as part of the Angeles Crest 100 race course (a 100 mile trail run), and Kevin has run here several times.

Many boy scouts have also left their footprints here. The Boy Scouts helped to build a section of trail through the San Gabriel Mountains, and every year groups of Southern California boy scouts hike a section of trail as part of a 50 mile hike to earn their hiking merit badge.

Many of those 50-mile boy scout hikes culminate with a trek to the top of the 9,399 foot Mt. Baden Powell, named for the Boy Scouts' founder. Dropping down the ridge through a shady tunnel of oaks, we reached Vincent Gap, a popular trailhead for those choosing to day hike to the top of the mountain. As we climbed we met a steady stream of day hikers, boy scouts, and trail runners descending the mountain, the highest concentration of hikers we've seen thus far. One runner, training for the Angeles Crest run, was running laps up and down the trail.

The climb followed steady switchbacks through a mostly shaded mixed pine and fir forest. As we climbed the forest thinned out, and the tall trees were replaced with shorter varieties, such as Limber pines, that can withstand the higher winds and heavier snow load of higher elevations. We crossed a few small patches of snow on the trail, but when we reached the top of Mount Baden-Powell it was bare. Several other PCT hikers were already there, enjoying the incredible views of the surrounding San Gabriel mountains and the tall skyscrapers of Los Angeles off in the distance.

Rejoining the PCT from Mount Baden-Powell, we continued to enjoy incredible views as the trail followed a high, open ridge for several miles before gently descending through the forest to Little Jimmy Campground (popular with bears) and Islip Saddle. We found camp near Islip Saddle, a hard, sandy flat with steep, rocky cliffs both above and below, and views of the sunset over the San Gabriel Mountains and the glow of the electric lights in Los Angeles.

1 comment:

  1. This is some of the prettiest terrain in the southern section of the PCT. It was good to talk to Sierra and see her in such good spirits.