Warner Springs to Idyllwild

Warner Springs to Idyllwild

April 23, 2014

Start: Halfmile 0114.5
End: Halfmile 0139.5
Distance: 25.0 Mi
Cumulative: 139.5 Mi

Got going fairly early again. Love hiking before the sun comes up. It’s a bit chilly at first, but once you get going, it’s perfect! After 13-or-so easy miles, I ended up stopping at a Trail Angel’s home just a quarter mile off the trail. Cush, the caretaker, set me up with a soda, some water, and a nice picnic table for lunch. There were a few others around, but I’d beat the crowd. More hikers started trickling in an hour later – just as I was finishing my lunch – so I headed out. I like the solitude I’ve been able to find on the trail.

It’ll be interesting to ultimately find a balance between community and solitude. I camped with Phantom and Mammoth last night, which was great. It’s cool to share the experience some, but I don’t want to compromise. I wanna hike my hike. If it works out to hike and camp with some rad folks, I’m into it. If it doesn’t, that’s fine too. I’m figuring this thing out as I go, same as everybody else.

April 24, 2014

Start: Halfmile 0139.5
End: Unofficial Mountain Fire Re-Route Mi 4.5 (of 17.5)
Distance: 23.0 + 4.5 = 27.5 Mi
Cumulative: 167.0 Mi

Had quite the day. The trail is closed around mile 162 due to a fire that scorched the landscape in July last year. Apparently the damage is extensive. A few hikers entered the closed area in an attempt to thru-hike the entire PCT. They were fined $2,500 each, or so I’ve heard. Eh, I’m not a purest. And certainly not at that price! The official PCTA website highly recommends hitching into Idyllwild and thereby bypassing the section altogether. It seems most have done just that. But that didn’t sit well with me, because I wanna hike all the way from Mexico to Canada continuously, even if it can’t all be on the PCT. I gotta stay true to the spirit of the game, so to speak. Instead- Mammoth, Phantom, and I chose to try a re-route that had been briefly outlined at Warner Springs. It didn’t say anything about water or exact distances or really any of the nitty gritty. Truth be told, it was shady work at best, but we went for it. Glad we did too. It was stunning all the way to the burn area. Worth every step and “oh shit” moment.

We ran into trouble tonight when we arrived at our planned camping spot only to find that the spring we hoped to use for water was in the burn area, and consequently also closed. With less than a liter each – and no information on water sources that lay ahead, we pressed on. It was already nearly 5pm and too far to backtrack 10 miles to the nearest certain water source. We could see clear signs of civilization and a lake between us and the highway we were heading for. Plus, the re-route was all downhill. It was a suboptimal situation but hardly dire.

We ended up trespassing to use someone’s garden hose, but all’s well that ends well. Now we’re cowboy camping on a dirt road, enjoying the stars…and with a pretty good idea of how to get from here to Idyllwild. Tomorrow’s gonna be interesting. This is my life.

April 25, 2014

Start: Unofficial Mountain Fire Re-Route Mi 4.5 (of 17.5)
End: Unofficial Mountain Fire Re-Route Mi 17.5 (of 17.5)
Distance: 13.0 Mi
Cumulative: 180.0 Mi

We made it! Today was more fun than I expected. We pieced together the re-route as best we could. We probably road-walked more than some but certainly less than others. And now we’re comfortably set up and enjoying all that Idyllwild has to offer. It’s a tourist trap but extremely hiker-friendly and totally my favorite town so far…out of three.

The road walk over the pass was actually sort of fun. It was nice to do something different, something that many of the thousands that have been here before haven’t done, because why would you unless you have to? Sure, there was no shoulder, and lots of blind turns, and a few cars that zoomed by going too fast, but I was smiling the whole way. Don’t get me wrong, I wouldn’t wanna do it all the time, but variety is the spice of life.

We thought about doing some quick chores, then cruising out of town to the trailhead for the nearest access back to the PCT, but there is supposed to be some gnarly weather moving in tonight. Some folks were talking about going for it, but it was 2pm, and I’d already put in 13 miles. It would be another 20 to gain – and then lose – enough elevation to get ahead of the storm. Nah, I’ll just stay the night and see what it looks like in the morning. I’ve hardly been out here a week. No need to go bat-shit crazy before I even hit the 200 mile mark.

And really, there’s no rush; may as well enjoy it. Besides, I’ve got a few small blisters that could use a short break.