Has been my big realization for the past few days… hiking the PCT is a seriously humbling experience! Well, to be fair, it’s a combination of really humbling and really empowering.
We’ve hiked 180 miles so far in under 2 weeks. Realizing that we’ve done that under our own power – fueled by nothing other than M&Ms, powdered Tang, and pasta – is pretty awesome. On the other hand, “getting it right” in terms of keeping track of all of the details of proper hydration, map reading, making and breaking camp, repacking your pack correctly, having good posture, etc etc… is a daunting task. I’ve had to learn as I go quite a bit, and I can definitely say I haven’t been too hard on myself about not getting it right immediately. The past few days have held some sobering moments, but I’m loving it.
We got to Idyllwild yesterday via the Mountain Fire detour and it’s everything I was hoping for. I’ve been really excited for Idyllwild for months for absolutely no good reason other than the name, but once we got here I knew I was right. Great burgers at the Lumber Mill yesterday, the people here are super friendly, and the scenery is beautiful. No complaints.
Tomorrow we begin “the descent” after a really relaxing zero day here. We drop from an elevation of 9000 feet or so down into the desert floor at roughly 1000 feet above sea level – 8000 feet of downward going switchbacks over about 20 miles. It promises to be pretty much brutal. Stay tuned!
On day 14! We sucessfully have made it over 170 miles on the trail. The last stretch has been fairly intense – heat, no wind, long siestas, evening miles, early starts, few encounters with other hikers, and plenty of snakes.
After our last blog post in Warner Springs, we ran into Warner Springs Monty who hooked us up with a little extra fuel. Then Jared and I camped behind the Community Center along with String Cheese, Not-Just-Warren, Anna, Colin, and a large bunny clan (so adorable!). After running out of sunscreen, we hiked out in the heat on day 10 with long sleeves and pants to avoid too much sun exposure. And man was it HOT. We will definitely be getting more sunscreen ASAP. We reached the spring after our uphill climb, around 12:30 – just in time for a long siesta until 4 pm – but even so we were still a bit dehydrated (it’s amazing how the time flies and little water gets consumed during those siestas). We had 8 miles to go until we reached trail angel Mike Hererra’s place…and Jared was out of water after 3 of those miles. Luckily the next 5 were in the cool of the evening and I had plenty to share. We rolled into Mike’s around 8 pm and man was it ever AMAZING. So amazing. Water. Tons of water. And the warmest welcome for hikers. Nina was watching the place with her absurdly large dog. She offered us cokes and beer which we enjoyed as we made dinner and admired the incredibly impressive sky, littered with more stars than we knew existed. Tomahawk was the only other hiker there, but we saw evidence of Magic Mullet, Mogli, Rich, and Phoebe who left behind notes in the log book. In the morning of day 11, we woke to coffee and truly amazing cherry-pineapple-coconut cake/pie and had a good chat about the trail and it’s magic with Tomahawk and Nina. Turns out Tomahawk was the first hiker we saw on the trail – we glimpsed him at the monument on day 1, huffing and puffing with a ridiculously large pack. His name came from the first piece of gear he parted with – a tomahawk. And as we talked to him that morning, he told us about his plans to leave the trail – to make his way from the Seattle area and relocate to Arizona with his lady friend. Go get ’em Tomahawk. He hooked us up with his sunscreen too – thanks! We left Mike’s place and Jared immediately began to feel ill (we’re attributing it to the cake/pie) and ate very little that day (which is the ONLY time I’ve ever seen Jared eat less than monster proportions). We hiked 13 miles, had a long siesta, saw a garder snake and a rattlesnake, Jared had some of his first foot issues, and we heard several loud rattlesnakes just off trail. We settled in at Nance Canyon at a beautiful sandy spot and ate our dinner and hot chocolate before crashing hard. The next day – day 12 -we woke early and were on the trail around 6 am. A few hours in, Jared “Snake Charmer” Kofron picked up a snake which freaked me out. But we made it – in one piece – uphill from Nance Canyon and out to the Paradise cafe by 1 pm where we had a great burger and a few amazing vanilla milkshakes. We chatted with tons of friendly folks about the trail, filled our water, and ran into Colin immediately, on his way to the cafe. We discussed our “detour plans” to get around the burned area in the Idyllwild vicinity, then Jared and I were back on the trail. We hiked up the ridge to find wind and a new, higher desert landscape. Jared ran off to get water from the Live Oak Spring, described in the water report as “a hell of a mile” downhill, and I ran ahead to make camp, to find a sign and realize that Jared was not on the spring trail, but for somewhere else entirely. I caught him a few hundred yards in, he changed course, I made camp and dinner, and he came back with 8L of water just before dark. A restless, windy sleep. Day 13: to Idyllwild! We hiked the last few miles along the trail until the detour: down Cedar Oaks trail, along a horse trail, and onto Fobes Ranch Road (we also found the Fobes Spring based on sparse directions and intuition, very exciting), then hitched a ride from a guy named Drew into town. My right shin and neck are bothering me. An epic burger meal at the Lumber Mill where we chatted with locals about Deep Creek, the fire, and volcano conspiracies. I love how warm folks around here are once they realize you’re a hiker. It’s like a big extended family. Crash at the Idyllwild Inn. Day 14 we zeroed. Caught up on errands, tried to repair my back, ate real food, shipped our bounce box, stocked up on supplies (good finds in town), got feedback from our trail big bro Mike (thanks!), planned our trek down from Fuller Ridge, and ran into Anna! Breakfast tomorrow morning with the gang before a ride at 8:15 to the trailhead.