Sleeping in the shadow of mount San Jacinto tonight after a race for the waning light. What a change from this morning! I was in Idyllwild first thing to run some errands: buy more food and ibuprofen, wash socks and recharge batteries (literally and figuratively).
The day started on a high with a message from Chug to arrange breakfast. He, Dolittle, 12Percent and I walked the hundred yards to the Red Kettle in down jackets and remembered that this is a 5,000+ft mountain town where there are still some snow patches on the hills. It’s a beautiful town though, full service (including a movie theatre!) but compact and very picturesque.
The Red Kettle was packed even at 8am, and not just with hikers. The American breakfast is always hard for me to navigate because they do both bacon and pancakes really well and I rarely have room for both. But now I’m a hiker! So I ordered a 2-pancake combo with maple syrup, 2 sausages and 2 eggs plus cottage fries (fried potatoes), OJ and bottomless coffee. And half an hour and three cups of coffee later it had gone. I had joked to the guys that I would over order so they enjoyed putting me right once I had finished. 12Percent was eyeing up the OJ towards the end of the meal as I was slowing down but he was to be sorely disappointed.
I caught up with Hands, Saltlick and Pandora during the morning and arranged that I would call them as I was heading out. I’d planned just after lunch, but town days can be a bit like a vortex: very hard to leave. Especially cute mountain towns with pancakes. I also reunited with Fran, now “Nell”, and Sababa who had double-zeroed in Idyllwild.
Carol, Stephen and Blazing Star turned up during the morning too, replacing me in Cheney’s cabin. Lots of blister chat in that house throughout the morning as all of them are suffering pretty badly. I seem to have been lucky as I don’t have a single blister on my feet. I must be the only hiker with no blisters.
In the afternoon, a storm came into the mountains above Idyllwild. We could see the black clouds on the top of San Jacinto and delayed our departure so we wouldn’t walk into the cloud. It only lasted a couple of hours so by 3pm we were motoring. A woman from the Idyllwild Crier saw us trying to hitch outside and offered a ride to the trailhead, which we were even more grateful for after the journey – 3 miles up a steep, winding road!
2.5miles of the Devil’s Slide Trail were pretty tough after the 26 yesterday. I think I must have created a massive calorie deficit yesterday which breakfast went towards filling rather than fuelling the day ahead. 2 granola bars and half a bag of beef jerky later and I was back on the PCT. I knew it was 7 miles to water and then another mile to some camping, but I thought it was doable. In the end it was touch and go and I had to get the head torch out to find the rocks to put on the tent stakes.
The hike up was beautiful though. The desert was interesting enough but now the lizards that darted across the path every few steps have been replaced by chipmunks and sand has given way to pine needles (hallelujah!). Incredible views over the whole valley, wonderful smelling pine forests, a glowing golden sunset and a small waterfall were just some of the highlights. I think I like the mountains better than the desert. Very cold at night though. I’ve been in the sleeping bag 20 minutes and am still shivering a bit.
Miles: 8.5 + 2.5 Devil’s Slide Trail
Camping: Mile 187.8