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PCT CA Section D

Nov. 17: Wrightwood to Swarthout Canyon

I got started very early, taking a La Croix from the minibar to undry my throat, then making some coffee.

I walked to the convenience store around the corner for some fast breakfast. Then, after showering and packing up, I walked back again to buy a couple of limes and some candy to motivate me up the hill.

By 9 am, the cabin was locked up and I was lugging my pack straight back up the hill I had so quickly scurried down in the dark the evening before. It was only three miles, but it took a while (almost an hour and a half). And I wasn’t alone. Most of the way up, I was chasing two women in trail running packs who were nonetheless walking. They passed me going down after they reached the top. When I did finally reach the top and stopped for a break on the bench there, I was passed by another man hiking the same direction whom I did not catch up to or see again.

The rest of the day was an easy descent down the end of the ridge I had just climbed, and I don’t recall seeing anyone else. The views and especially the setting sun were incredible though.

Just after sunset, I reached the water cache in Swarthout Canyon, just a few feet from a dirt road with a surprising amount of traffic, and set up camp where a bush hid my tent from a car that pulled up and parked on the side of the road just as I arrived. I avoided using my headlamp so as not to signal my presence too readily. Not just because, though I picked a clearly developed and well used site, was probably technically breaking the law banning dispersed camping, but mainly because you don’t want random non-hiking strangers knowing where you’re going to be with all your money and possessions when you’re asleep. Eventually they left and the traffic died down a bit after dark.

Total distance: 19 miles

Trail progress: 16 miles

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