Day 8 (04/04/2018): Third Gate water cache to Warner Springs at Mile 109.5, then another 3 Miles to camp at Mile 112.5 (21.4 Miles)
Relaxing and enjoyable morning, really quite easy hiking. Cool temperatures greeted me while I witnessed the desert change after every turn. Deﬁnitely my favorite day of hiking so far. I actually almost teared up walking through a valley by myself thinking of how beautiful everything was, and how this is my life for 5 months. In the afternoon I caught a horned toad, and saw some hikers I hadn’t seen in a couple days. As soon as I’d arrived at the Community Center the nice volunteer lady offered a ride to the Post Oﬃce to pick up my resupply package. So many gracious souls out here helping to make this trail truly special, it’s like living in a Utopian dream. Behind the Community Center I took a shower from a 5 gallon bucket filled from an outdoor sink and washed my hiking clothes in the same bucket. Classy. Either way I was very happy to have the facilities. After sitting for a couple hours while charging my phone and battery pack a bit, I decided to push onward another 3 miles to camp away from the horde of people staying at the Community Center. That turned out to be a great choice as there was a ﬂowing creek and only two other campers. Longest day yet!
Day 9 (05/04/2018): Campsite at Mile 112.5 to Exposed Tentsite at Mile 129.2 (16.7 Miles)
What a great day! Little bit of dew on my sleeping bag when I woke up. Bit chilly as well, but clear skies and the morning warmed up quickly. Fairly large climb out of Warner Springs up towards “Mike’s Place” where the next water source was. A fellow hiker named “Smiley” was carrying 6 litres of water and…an ice axe. She is definitely an anomaly out here, I wonder how long she will carry that thing. Truly stunning countryside, every turn seemed like a different environment entirely. From boulder strewn Mars-esque landscape, to pine forest with manzanita undergrowth. I loved every bit of it. At Mike’s, two hikers named “Off Road” and “Marble” hooked it up with welcoming vibes and pizza cooked in the brick oven at the outside kitchen. Beers were had as well, and just before leaving I was given a shot of Jim Beam… Thanks guys!
Day 10 (06/04/2018): Exposed Tentsite to Tentsite at Mile 132, then to Random Tentsite at Mile 149 (19.8 Miles)
Well, I suppose it was called “Exposed Tentsite” for a reason. At around 1am the wind really picked up and I thought it might damage my tent so I packed up and walked until about 4am. Woke up again at 8:30am and continued walking. Once I arrived at the concrete cistern I thought I’d get water and have lunch at, there were a ton of insects and water bugs swimming around in it. I took a pass. I ran out of water about a mile before the water cache at mile 143.1 that thankfully was stocked. I took a liter to get me to Mary’s “John Muir” memorial water tank and chill zone. Thanks Mary! Ice cold water was a welcome change. Walked a bit after Mary’s and decided to camp just before Paradise Valley Cafe. Burger tomorrow! I found a tear on my pack’s left shoulder strap that I’ll keep an eye on, and I stitched up my torn pocket on my hiking shirt. Not a good sign that things are already ripping, but at least I caught it early.
Day 11 (07/04/2018): Tentsite at Mile 149 to Live Oak Spring a mile off trail from Mile 158.4 (12.4 Miles, 9.6 on PCT)
Great sleep last night despite the howling winds. Started the morning by sleeping in, then meeting Ines (“Oats”) from Germany right as I was leaving camp. We walked to Paradise Valley Cafe together and had some breakfast. Smiley and another hiker named “Bacon” from Switzerland were there as well and gave me the trail name “Terminator”. Haha! I guess because I just keep walking and don’t really slow down. The wind really picked up around noon, and by the time I made it to the ridge before Live Oak Spring it was howling and the clouds had moved down to surround. A mile off trail I found a camp site that was somewhat protected from the wind. We shall see how the tent holds up overnight.
Day 12 (08/04/2018): Live Oak Spring to Idyllwild at Mile 179.4 (~19 Miles total)
Well that was a freaky night at the spring. I woke up in the middle of the night thinking that I saw a ﬂashing light, like from a camera outside of my tent. I sat up and listened intently as the wind was howling through the trees. It sounded like footsteps from someone trying not to be heard. I felt a chill as I tried not to breathe heavily or make any noise. I kept listening for a few more minutes before finally working up the courage to open the rain fly on my tent and shine my headlamp outside. What greeted me was four sets of glowing red eyes! As they stared back at me, suddenly one of the eyes began hopping away. To my relief I realized they were…Rabbits. After the hopping night terror I got some really great sleep actually. The morning proved to be much, much nicer weather. The 1 mile hike back to the PCT was pleasant, and I began my day with a hike up Lion Peak, followed shortly after with a jaunt up Pyramid Peak. By the time I got to Fobes Ranch Trail I was very low on water (less than 1lt) but decided to push on anyway. So glad that I did. Hiking up Spitler Peak was a challenge, but gave up a heralded view of the Mojave desert to the east and westward towards Idyllwild and the lush green valley surrounding. After following the Spitler Peak side trail down about 20 minutes of switchbacks I was overjoyed to ﬁnd a fast ﬂowing stream crossing the trail where I drank so much water! What an amazing feeling to find an oasis of water right when you need it the most. Then I happened to come across Smiley and “Maverick” at the road and we all got a hitch into Idyllwild with Michael Jackson. Apparently he is alive and well, going on meditative retreats in the desert… and he’s a bald white guy. Thanks MJ!
Day 13 (09/04/2018): Zero day in Idyllwild (0 Miles)
Great day today. So relaxing. I spent too much money in this town, but it was so nice. The campsite last night was good, except for a small misunderstanding when a lighter went missing and no one would own up to who had it. For the second night in town I ended up getting the last hotel room at Idyllwild Inn and boy, it is just superb. Nice ﬁre place, and an awesome bath tub/clothes washer. Couldn’t have asked for a better place to take a Zero. Had some beers with Rob, met “60/40” who hiked the AT last year, and tomorrow I’ll hike up the mountain and possibly get the peak of Mt. San Jacinto as well. Can’t wait to drop 9,000ft to the valley ﬂoor afterwards…bleh.
Day 14 (10/04/2018): Idyllwild back to the PCT and a side trail for San Jacinto Peak 8.1 Miles on the PCT, 5.9 Miles from Idyllwild to the ﬁre closure up South Ridge/Tahquitz Peak, 6.2 Miles up San Jacinto Peak and back to camp at Mile 186.2 (20.2 Miles total)
Little late start to the day today. Had to wait for the supermarket and gear shop to open at 9am before I could head back to the trail. I needed a fuel canister and some more food. After getting everything sorted and checked out of Idyllwild Inn, I headed out of town via a 1.5 mile road walk to the south ridge trail leading up to Tahquitz Peak and the PCT ﬁre closure. That was a very steep trail/road. I was kind of annoyed from the start because gnats kept getting around my eyes and bothering me. But, I saw the ﬁrst deer of the trip. After eating lunch at Tahquitz lookout I continued on the PCT until I got to the northern section of the San Jacinto Peak loop trail. Just before this section I happened to bump into “Bacon” (Victor from Switzerland) and after I made it to the peak he was standing there with another hiker named Destiny (blonde girl with round glasses). I got him to take my picture on the summit. After quickly heading back down the mountain we chanced upon a sweet little camp spot near the North Fork of the San Jacinto River. Lucky for us cause the sun was quickly setting. Gorgeous sunset!
100 Miles!Tenderfeet walking up to Eagle RockIt definitely looks like a bird of prey!The desert is just stunningAgain, such a unique beauty out hereLenticular clouds over San Jacinto. Looks a bit windy!One of the amenities at Mary’s “Muir Woods”Some cool cliffs just before Paradise Valley CafeA windy night at Live Oak SpringSpitler PeakTahquitz RidgeThe peak of Mt. San JacintoGorgeous sunset after an epic day