PCT 2018 Day 8, April 30, Monday.
Start mile 4.7 of Idyllwild Alternate at Spitler Trailhead
End mile 6.7 of Alternate, then get ride and later hitch to Idyllwild.
Miles walked: 2
Starting down the first roadwalk of the alternate route in the morning, someone comes by and offers a ride part-way. I gladly accept. He drops me off 4 miles to town, near a cafe, which he recommends as maybe the best in the area. I have a pleasant breakfast, discover that highway 238 has no shoulders in places, so is unwalkable. However, hitching was easy, and I get a ride in seconds.
In town, I see Smokebreak and the rest of the group already in town! They had taken an alternate, shorter route down the ridge. Now they warned that rain and snow were forecast for Tuesday and Wednesday, and they were heading up already! Wow, but my body was telling me that a day of rest was imperative.
I get a spot at the campground, not being able to get a call through to an actual person at the nearest hotel, then do the routine of shower, laundry, and so on, and try to actually rest.
The town is small enough that everything is close together, great for a hiker. The car traffic from tourists is high, though, and this is only a Monday in April.
It rains most of the night.
PCT 2018 Day 7, April 29, Sunday.
Start mile 145, Mary’s Place, to mile 168.5 Spitler Peak
End mile 4.7 of Idyllwild Alternate at Spitler Trailhead
Miles walked: 28.2
A cold wind blew all night, and the day seems 20 degrees colder than yesterday. The expected fast hikers Puma, Smokebreak, Beehive, and Taco pass me on their way to Paradise Cafe for breakfast, but I just had town food and wanted to hike. Most of the day involved gradually climbing. After going from 5000 at the road up to 7000 on the ridges overlooking the town of Idyllwild, the wind is fierce, blowing me back and forth at times. And after days of clear sky, suddenly dark clouds start blowing over the ridge. The regular PCT is closed at mile 168.6 because of a past fire, which all of us hikers had been warned about, so I proceed down the alternate trail fairly late in the day to escape any weather, and camp at the trailhead parking area, joined by a couple of others.
PCT 2018 Day 6, April 28, Saturday.
Start mile 117 tiny campsite on mountainside trail
End mile 145, Mary’s Place
Miles walked: 28
The path climbs gradually, until mid-morning water resupply at a big water tank at Mike’s Place. I did not go down to talk to trail angel Mike Herrera, but he is known for making pizza daily for hikers. The elevation is getting high enough that heat is easing a bit. Terrain is back to plenty of rocks, but with more color, and reminds me of an Arizona hike. Smoke Break, Beehive, Puma, and Taco pass at different times, and we all end up at Mary’s Place, a campsite set up by a trail angel. Several other hikers are there, including Emily and Vesuvius. Conversation and laughter ensue. Mary brings her dog to visit. About 25 hikers stayed the night in tents or cowboy-camping.