Idyllwild Zero

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.

Spitler

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.

Mary’s Place

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.

Mary’s Place

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.

Warner

PCT 2018 Day 5, April 27, Friday.

Start Barrel Spring Campsites, mile 101

End mile 117 tiny campsite on mountainside trail

Miles walked: 16

On the way to Warner Springs is grassland rolling like waves. After a ten mile walk in the cool quiet morning, the Warner Springs PCT welcome center offers hikers a chance to rest and renew. Run by super-nice volunteers, the center offers amenities to hikers at low cost and thoughtful economy. Home Depot buckets filled from an outdoor sink and a privacy stall built on a deck serve to make a free shower. A three bucket system is offered to hand-wash your clothes: an initial rinse bucket to reduce the dirt, a soapy bucket, and a final rinse bucket. Clotheslines are provided. You can donate your extra food and equipment to other hikers by way of hiker boxes. Snacks and supplies are sold, and rides given to the nearby post office, convenient store, and grill. Another building is dedicated as a hiker lounge, with couch, chairs, and pool table. Camping out back is free. And more services, to fifty to a hundred hikers during the season. And free wifi allowed me to remedy my cell phone problem. Huzzah.

After clean-up, eats, and several hours of relaxation, the trail calls. Up a mountain with more trees, until I give out and find a tiny spot, joined later by three other hikers.

Trail names to learn today: Happy, Puma, Beehive, Luco, Sharpshooter, and 2Pack.