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Day 24 – April 27, 2022

Mile 351.8 to 363.4 (Acorn Trail/Wrightwood, CA)

11.6 trail miles | 14.5 tracked miles | 3,265 ft elevation gain | 68 F / 20 °C

Today is town day! We left before 7 in order to reach Wrightwood, CA by lunch time.

I caught the tail end of the glorious sunrise. The cowboy campers (who also happen to be early risers) exalted the virtues of their sleeping arrangement at this exceptional location, but I remain loyal to my tent. In any case, we are fortunate that the wind was calm overnight as our site was extremely exposed.

Sunrise over Cajon Pass

The final phase of the climb up from Cajon Pass was gentle, but the seemingly-endless succession of false summits was deceiving.

A smelly hiker posing.

At mile 363.4, we left the Pacific Crest Trail and made a sharp right onto the Acorn Trail, the gateway to Wrightwood. The 2.7-mile descent, a relentless succession of switchbacks through a green tunnel, was both remarkably steep and mind-numbing. That’s a testament to the qualities of the PCT, which is not only typically well graded, but also generally rewarding.

As Christie, Joe, Michael and I reached the trailhead, we unanimously agreed that we have zero appetite to climb the Acorn Trail back up, especially after resupplying. We will get back to the PCT through the Angeles Crest Highway, a few miles up north.

Acorn Trail junction

From the trailhead, we walked another three miles into town, along quiet streets and elegant houses. Our first impressions confirmed Wrightwood’s reputation as a hiker-friendly town: a local trail angel had left a box of delicious oranges close to the trailhead, and a local resident generously greeted us and offered beer on our way down (never mind the fact that it was 10am.)

Of course, our first priority in town was to get second breakfast at a kitschy local establishment that serves enormous portions.

Then, we stopped by the grocery store and gear store, which are located just a stone’s throw away. The grocery store is packed with hiker food, and even offers all sorts of free samples.

The grocery store in Wrightwood has the best hiker food aisle ever

The gear store happily exchanged my disheveled/tattered Darn Tough socks on the spot. (Darn Tough socks have a life-time warranty, but in reality most stores don’t want to deal with the hassle.)

Outside the hardware store, a shuttle regularly picks up hikers who wish to spend the night at the local “Bud Pharm” for showers, libations, and other mood-lightening substances. It’s hilarious.

We didn’t partake; I had rented a small but well-appointed cabin for the four of us, in an ideal location just across the main street. It came with a complimentary bottle of terrible wine, but I suppose it’s the gesture that counts.

Cozy cabin in Wrightwood, CA

We’ll head back to the trail tomorrow for the ascension of Mt. Baden Powell, which promises to be challenging due to lingering snow.

The Big Picture


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