May 9 – Day 9 – Idyllwild
The PCT is closed from mile 162 to 178 due to last year’s Mountain Fire which has presented a dilemma for all of this years hikers. Many have simply hitched from Paradise Valley Cafe into Idyllwild and as I intended to do as I went to sleep last night. However at 5 am in my sleeping bag I started to get ants in my pants so I packed up and started the 16 mile road walk.
The first eight went pretty well although my right shin started hurting pretty good. I would simply step off the shoulder and hike beside the road for oncoming traffic so that was not a problem.
I stopped after eight miles and had a turkey bacon sandwich for breakfast at the Lake Hemet store. The clerk was very nice saying she has had a number of PCT hikers this year. I hadn’t walked 400 yards when a very nice section hiker named Kodak Karen offered to give me lift the remaining eight miles. I certainly couldn’t refuse such a generous offer so it seems I will be at least eight miles short of a contiguous hike to Canada.
In Idyllwild I checked into a hotel for thee nights and ordered a pizza for dinner. I will be taking a double zero here to slow down and recover. So don’t look at my spot page and get all worried that I haven’t moved. (Ahem , Steve). Hike resumes Monday. Till then I will be sitting on a couch watching the nfl draft and other TV.
May 8 – Day 8 – Paradise Valley Cafe – mile 152
Today was a very long, hot desert hike with dreams of cheeseburgers at the Paradise Valley Cafe as well as hoping to be close enough to make it to Idyllwild the following day. The hike was uneventful seeing only two others all day. I have started listening to audible books while hiking as I had grown tired of going through the same three songs over and over in my head.
I did arrive at the cafe and sat with M80 and Trooper having a Gus burger and a few beers. The Paradise Valley Cafe is so friendly to hikers. Three of us ended up crashing on their front patio for the night trying to fall asleep listening to Hwy 74 traffic. I actually slept well other than the fourth hiker who showed up at 11 and had a very loud cell phone conversation not realizing there were three people sleeping ten feet away. Also in the very early am a car pulled into the lot and waited while “Mr. Tambourine Man” played in its entirety before pulling away. I certainly hope that was real as I would hate to think it was a dream.
May 7 – Day 7 – Mile 132
I don’t really know what to say about today. The first half was uphill leaving Agua Caliente creek, it was hot, and I stopped early around 4 as my feet hurt. The strange part was a stop at a trail angels house near mile 127.
The good news is they had a water tank for hikers by the road, they had sodas and beer on the porch, and everyone seemed very nice. Despite that it was a very strange vibe. I should have known when the first greeting was, “Hey Brah!” And the couple up at the tank didn’t follow me to the house. I drank a coke and tried to unsuccessfully converse with a guy sitting on the porch for a few minutes before realizing this was not the place for me. So I left a donation for the coke and started to pack up. Another gentleman I had seen as I entered encouraged me to stay asking if I was on a race but I thanked him for the hospitality and hightailed it. The worst part is I spent the next five miles pondering if I was on a race.
On the bright side I met a nice couple named M80 and Trooper with their dog willow. If only my dogs were so well behaved.
May 6 – Day 6 – Agua Caliente creek – Mile 114
The day started cold and windy with rain on the tent fly. In fact it was a chilly hike all the way into Warner Springs. The only good news was I passed the 100 mile mark.
By the time I reached Warner Springs At one o’clock I was cold, hungry, dirty and stank badly. The resort had closed in 2012, but the town had opened their community center to hikers staffed by volunteers. I was able to get a shower, laundry and a double cheeseburger with chips and a soda for $21. It was heaven. Nancy and Colletta were so nice and Colletta even drove a bunch of us the mile round trip to the post office to get our Resupply packages.
I stayed for three hours watching old episodes of Deadliest Catch, Man vs Food, and Bizarre Foods before packing up. I hiked the five miles to Agua Caliente creek with clean clothes and a new attitude.
May 5 – Day 5 – 4th gate – Mile 94
The day started by crossing the S2 and 79 called scissors crossing. There used to be a water cache here but it was shut down due to previous hikers leaving beer cans and trash. Thanks to those selfish bastards I had carried seven liters originally from Rodriguez Springs. There was water here though left by Glide On as well as some sodas so I did partake in a root beer
The next fourteen miles wound up into the San Felipe hills and traversed back west. It was windy at first but quickly became just hot. I reached the third gate water cache at 1:30 whee some angels had left boxes and boxes of water. Due to the number of hikers I only took two liters but it was much appreciated. I hung out here for almost three hours sleeping under a bush before moving three miles down the trail and setting up camp.
You will also notice I am only updating my spot location once a day when I set up camp in order to conserve battery so don’t freak out.
May 4 – Day 4 – Scissors Crossing – mile 77
I had originally planned to put in a big 24 mile day to get to scissors crossing where the trail crosses hwy 79. I soon realized this was kind of stupid as I was supposed to be ramping up. So as you will see that is exactly what I did.
First six miles flew by up to sunrise trailhead where I filtered water from the horse trough which was a pain trying to fill my Sawyer squeeze bottle by submerging it in the tank. Got it done though. I also ran into Robert from Bavaria again before he jetted off.
The next ten miles were hot and hilly including one ridiculously steep, long downhill that was a real quad burner. Finally I reached Rodriguez Spring at 1 where a bunch of us fought for shade and filtered water. I was thinking I would stay here but realized it would be tough to make Warner Springs in two days if I didn’t get to Scissors Crossing that night so I started hiking the eight miles at 4 pm.
The first two miles were a great gentle downhill before nearly four miles of ups and downs to traverse ravines and ridges to stay away from private land in the valley below. All the while you could see where the trail climbed the San Felipe hills across the valley although seemingly close. This several mile detour due to the landowner and forest service were unable to reach agreement. Finally the trail descended into the valley and flat even trail from there allowed me to set up camp by the S2 before it was too dark. Despite the wind and nearness to the highway I slept very well.
May 3 – Day 3 – Pioneer Mail camp – Mile 52.6
Today was another good day of hiking. I stopped at the Laguna mountain store and had snacks for lunch on the porch while chatting with bikers, tourists etc. I also walked down to the sporting goods store for some dinners and bought some running shorts to sleep in.
Later on it walking through Penny Pines, it was sad to see how much was burned last year by the fire. Fortunately it seems to have stopped just short of the trailhead to Noble Canyon which holds a special place in my heart due to being the aid station at the top of the hill in the Noble Canyon 50k the years I ran.
It is also surprising the differing hiking speeds on the trail. I saw a gentleman leaving Mount Laguna store as I arrived and after giving him an hour or more head start caught him five miles down the trail. Then shortly afterward I saw the flash of Robert the German Rocket whom I would meet later fly by.
Camping at Pioneer Mail campground and have the place to myself.