Coldest day on Baden Powell

Day 22,    23 miles

It was already cold when I woke this morning and I was to climb to over 9,000 feet.  I set off wearing all my layers. It wasn’t long before I caught up to another hiker.  “M” is hiking parts of the PCT with the assistance of his wife, “And-M” She meets him on Hwy crossings with supplies and support.

It started to hail as we approached the assent to Mount Baden Powell.  We took shelter under an overhang at the trailhead restroom and quickly got out our rain gear and pack covers to protect our gear from getting wet.

The trail headed upward.  The higher we hiked the colder and windier it became.  I was getting battered by hail and rain as it came at me sideways.  The trail disappeared into ice and snow as we climbed.  Soon we gave up trying to stay on trail and headed straight up.  It was as steep as The Grouse Grind except more of a scramble as there was no established trail.  Thank goodness for the GPS feature on my phone app that kept me on track and not lost.

We reached the top of Baden Powell in the mist and icy wind.  Too cold to stop for a moments rest.  I had to keep moving through the storm.  My face was getting stung by the tiny icicles being blown off the frozen trees.  Am I really in California?

We passed a few other hikers, sheltering themselves,  tucked behind some rock and fallen trees.  I quickly introduced myself to Hot Potatoe, Shower, and “Meatloaf?”  Then I kept heading down the north side of the mountain.  It seemed to take forever to get down to an elevation where it wasn’t as cold and windy.  What a great hike!

Switchbacks down further to another Hwy, parking lot and trailhead.  I saw a couple sitting at a picnic table.  They were waving at me.  I walked towards them. It’s Happy and Tugboat!  Yay!  They were ahead of me the whole day.

I was done for the day. But they had other plans.  Up and over another “hill.” “Just another 3-4 miles,” Tugboat led the way.  Happy stayed behind me.  As we hiked upward I kept having to stop and catch my breath.  I would motion Happy to pass me.  He shook his head no.  When I reached the top Tugboat was waiting.  She got behind me also as we headed down the switchbacks.  I felt like I was being herded.  They were not going to lose me again.  I love these guys.

It was still windy and raining lightly when we found our spot for the night.  I cooked up 2 dehydrated meals, Chili Mac and beef, and Thai curry.  I shared them with my trail family as they have been going stoveless and eating mainly cliff bars.  They were grateful for a hot meal after such a long cold day.

As the light faded I was in my tent quickly falling asleep to the sound of the wind blowing the trees.  Cozy in my tent.  It had been very cold, but what a great day!



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