After a short ride down the canyon road, we arrived in town, and Molly Ann dropped me off at the bakery, but not before giving me her cell phone number. I thanked her again for her kindness, and walked the few steps to the bakery’s entrance.
The building had a smidgen of Bavarian architectural flair to it, as evidenced by the symmetrical curved slates in the railings surrounding the outdoor seating area. As I climbed the steps to the outdoor porch, I found a number of other hikers sitting at the tables enjoying their sticky purchases. Most of them I had met before and could remember all of their names; there was Rum Monkey from Canada, Hummingbird, Clair and Doodles, Frosty and Anna. Atlas and Peter Pan were in town, but I didn’t run into them, and it’s at this point that I pass them and never see them again
I found an empty place at one of the tables and sat my pack down beside it, then went into the bakery and ordered several scrumptious-looking items. Out on the porch, I enjoyed small talk with the other hikers as I consumed my pastries and container of milk. Not content with what I had just eaten, and knowing it would be a long time before I came across another bakery, I went back for seconds, this time ordering different items than what I had eaten the first time. This is indeed the fun part of hiking the trail.
Even though I had Molly Ann’s cell phone number, I chose not to call her; instead, I walked to the edge of the road leading out of town and stuck out my thumb in the time-honored manner of soliciting a ride. Within a few minutes, a vehicle stopped and offered me and two others a ride back to the trailhead put-in.
All told, my foray into Wrightwood and back was less than an hour, about the same time I would have taken had I stopped for lunch on the trail. As I continued on up the trail, I was still trying to process my encounter with Molly Ann and what exactly her compassionate service meant to me, and more so, how I had been affected by it.
Leaving Highway 2, the trail began a steady upward climb of Mount Baden-Powell, so named after the founder of the Boy Scouts. It started at about the seventy-two-hundred-foot level and continued until it reached the spur trail to the summit of Mount Baden-Powell at 9,245 feet. I was alone as I began the ascent, but it mattered not; company was not important to me, as I always had my inner thoughts to entertain me. I knew from studying my maps that there were forty switchbacks to traverse before arriving at the spur trail leading to the summit of Baden-Powell.
To ease the drudgery of the climb, I concentrated hard on trying to remember the details of one of my favorite science fiction stories my father had written in the early 1950s. It was simply called "The School", and it was the third story in a trilogy set, the names of the other two being "Trade Secret" and "Noise Level".