Mile: 386 to 406.5 (plus bonus)
New trip bird:
New LA County birds for Susan:
Our friend, CA Highway 2, or the Angeles Crest Highway. We slept next to it for two nights then today crossed it half a dozen times and walked 3 miles of it for good measure. We started by ascending Mt Williamson most of the way to the top then immediately dropping right back to the highway. This would be the theme for the day - walk some trail up and down then cross the highway. Except when we came to the frog detour. The trail is closed between mile 390 and 394 to protect the habit of the endangered Mountain Yellow-legged Frog. The walk around requires a 3 mile road walk down Hwy 2, followed by ducking through the giant Buckhorn Flat Campground, and finally connecting back to the PCT using the Buckhart Trail. It added about a mile overall but worst of all was the pavement pounding. After days of trail hiking it takes only minutes on pavement before legs and feet start screaming. We were fortunate that large sections of the highway were closed for winter damage repair so traffic was extremely light.
We emerged back on the trail in Cooper Canyon, pretty enough with large stands of mature conifers. We ascended all the way to the head of the canyon, crossed the top, and what do you know, there's the highway again! From there we started the real descent that will take us out of the mountains. At mile 403 we crossed that damn road one last time only to find MAGIC in a small picnic area. "Maverick" hiked the trail last year and was just out for the day providing good eats for us weary hikers. It couldn't have come at a better time for us, we were tired and hungry and in need of some magic. We enjoyed some good food and company and were ready for the final push to camp. The last 3.5 miles traveled a lovely oak and pine transition habitat mixed with chaparral. We're at 5500 feet tonight and have to climb back to 7000 in the morning. Such is the way of the PCT.