Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Days 11-13, Into the Mountains

On Monday we hiked about 7 miles to reach a highway.  One mile to the left was Paradise, a roadside cafe with great food, of course any food is pretty great at this point.  I waited for Steve and Single Malt at the highway but the prospect of breakfast at the cafe kept me from waiting very long.  I grabbed a root beer from the small water cache at the highway and made a run for the cafe.

Black Snake, hiker from Dublin, was there.  We shared our campsite with him the night before.  Rather, he shared; he was there when we went zooming past it.  We went back and he invited us in.  I had an omelete with biscuits and gravy.  Steve and Single Malt arrived about the same time as my food.  Soon a biker named Dan joined us and a handfull of other hikers who had been staying in Idyllwild, a town up the road a ways.  Dan started his month-long bike trip in Death Valley, decided it was too hot, rode over to the Grand Canyon and was working his way back over and south towards the border.

I'd put up a picture of Single Malt's poor toe, but I don't even want to see it, betting no one else would either.  He bashed it pretty hard on that rock and had to do a bit of trailside surgery on it Sunday afternoon; something about a blood blister under the nail, a mushroom shape, a scalpel from his snakebite kit and lots of clean water.  From the sound of it he's a pretty tough guy to hike out all those miles to the cafe.  It's a shame though because he'd planned on going farther during his several days with Steve.  They caught a ride with some guys at the cafe into Idyllwild and checked into an inn.

I pushed on from the cafe that afternoon, after some apple pie and ice cream, solo for the first time.  It's funny because while planning this trip a common question was "you're going by yourself?"  Well, I went to San Diego by myself.  From there I've met people and haven't really been alone much, just while walking, I'd always camped near at least 2 other people.

The trail from the cafe leads into the start of the San Jacintos, the first batch of mountains on the PCT.  It was hit hard by snow a couple weeks ago and caught a lot of hikers off guard.  I'm not sure how prepared I would have been for that much snow had I started earlier.  I didn't hit any until Tuesday.  Monday night I camped about 12 miles from the cafe.  Tuesday I had about 16 miles to go to reach Devil's Slide Trail, which goes down to Idyllwild, where Steve and Single Malt were staying.

The San Jacintos have been awesome so far.  The trail follows the ridge around 6-7k feet, though not over the peaks.  It's steep and rugged.  Most of the water sources are springs .5-1 mile down off the side.  I took enough with me from the cafe to only have to stop at one of them though.  The water from it was great, the spring welled up inside a 3x3 foot box, making a small pool of cold, clear water.  It was a half mile and 500 feet of elevation back to the trail though.  Black Snake was at the top when I got back up.  He had the idea of leaving his pack at the top.  I probably should have done that but I wanted to eat an early lunch at the bottom to fuel up for the return climb.

Tuesday night I camped at the top of Devil's Slide, then hiked (jogged actually) the 2.5 miles down to the park at the bottom.  Usually during the day there people around to get rides from but I was there early.  I walked about 1.5 miles down the road and found a trail angel named David who had a sign in hid yard offering rides.  He was sitting on his porch and offer to take me the last few miles into town.  He even had a log book to keep record of people he's given rides to.  He gave me a tour of the town and dropped me at the campground where I'm staying tonight.  I texted Steve to see if he was still in town, sure enough, he and Single Malt were at a restaurant nearby having breakfast, so I walked over to join them.  Later I went to the store and probably bought too much food for the next leg of the hike.  Single Malt went back to San Diego for his flight home.  Steve and I shared a pizza for dinner, we ate with a few other hikers.  Going to try to get up early and back into the mountains tomorrow.  Steve has to catch a ride back to the cafe and start back up from there after his few days off.

178.6 miles up the trail.  Idyllwild is a cool town, lots of restaurants, great gear shop.  I bought some thin gloves to hopefully stop sunburning my hands.

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