14.6 miles (369.3 to 383.9)
I wake shortly after dawn. Before I can get up to pee, I have to stretch and massage my feet; this is my new, self-prescribed protocol to promote healing. When I return to bed, I rewatch the video on taping (twice). Then I tape both feet and put on socks and shoes as recommended to allow the tape to set.
Our host drives us and four other hikers to the trailhead. Highway 2 is closed just after the trailhead at Inspiration Point due to a rock slide or a sink hole (exact cause unclear). Luckily we’re not trying to hitch to or from Wrightwood today! At 9am, we’re hiking. We only took two zero days in town, but I feel like we were off the trail for at least a week. I’m so happy to be back out here, even if my feet do ache – and they do. Not only that, but with my feet all taped up, I can’t find my natural gait.
We walk around a ridge and come back down to Highway 2 at Vincent Gap. Then we face our main task for the day: the four mile, 3,000 foot climb to the top of Baden Powell. About halfway up, we stop for cold, delicious water at Lamel Spring. Afterward, I somehow settle into a wonderful efficient stride that allows me to overtake three thru-hikers and a day hiker. (Wow!) I cruise up to the summit and chat with a few of the folks up there. Dad arrives. We eat lunch. We take photos. We hang out for a long time, but that’s ok. We aren’t going far today. We just need to get to Little Jimmy Camp, six miles ahead.
From the top of Baden Powell, I can see San Gorgonio and San Jacinto peeking up behind Mount Baldy. They’re too distant to show up well in photographs, but they’re there on the horizon, reminding us how far we’ve walked.
At last it’s time to walk some more. The trail takes us along a ridge where we have nice views of the desert far below. There’s a fir here that I’ve never seen before. I’m falling in love with this tree. The needles look like hybrid red fir/white fir, but the bark is cream-colored and multi-layered and looks like a doorway to another world. I stop to photograph several of these beauties. I need to learn the name of this species.
We follow the ridge around and around until we come to a view filled with Baden Powell and Mount Baldy. We’re in yet another recent burn. Down, down the trail drops, finally taking us to Little Jimmy Spring, another cold, delicious delight. We fill up with water for tonight and for 10 miles tomorrow, then walk a little farther to Little Jimmy Trail Camp.
Camp has picnic tables and off-putting outhouses. Several hikers have already set up their tents, and a group of Girl Scouts has staked their claim on the far side of the campground. I pitch my tent and eat dinner and chat with two female hikers. It’s nice to have a few ladies around. Then we all retreat to our tents and I go about my nightly routine. I’ve slept in my tent only one out of the last six nights. Its a relief to set everything up and settle in for the night.
More hikers arrive, some after dark. The Girl Scouts are noisy. I wash my toes and stretch my feet. The tape looks like it might hold up for another day, so I forgo the massage. My feet did OK today. There were moments of aches and a few moments of pain. I don’t know if the tape helped. It hasn’t made anything worse, so I’ll leave it on and see what happens tomorrow.