May 12, 2015
Campsite at Tunnel Spring (158.4) to San Jacinto State Park (Mountain Fire Alternate)
4.2 PCT miles today, 18.6 Alternate PCT miles today, .3 non-PCT miles today
186.3 miles total
Today’s Elevation Gain/Loss: Unknown
What a long, successful, rewarding day! We started out this morning from our campsite on a part of the trail that many hikers are choosing to miss out on this year. It’s unfortunate because it really was one of the most beautiful sections so far. We had hiked in yesterday from the cafe with 3 other hikers – Justin and Mary whom I’ve mentioned before (their trail names are now Boyardee and Energizer Bunny), and our new friend Chris, from Southwest Washington (who we trail-named “Mosey” today because he’s always talking about how he just likes to mosey along on the trail). We had all camped together at our water source, so by around 7:30 everyone was awake, packed-up, and standing on the ridge waiting for directions.
Today we were hiking an alternate route due to a fire closure, and I had managed to take on the role of map-reader/navigator/pace-setter for our little group (not a surprise for those of you who know me). I loved having the opportunity to spout out mileages and landmarks to more than just Pickles, and the group seemed to appreciate it as well. It also solidified my “MapQuest” trail name. We hiked about 4 miles along a ridge on the PCT before we got to all the fire closure signs and our alternate route back down the mountain we had just climbed, the Cedar Springs Trail.
Considering we were all strangers just a few days ago, we couldn’t have found a more compatible and enjoyable group of hikers. Everyone stayed positive (even though as the day went on we couldn’t help but laugh a bit at our incredibly sore feet and legs) and everyone kept a really fast pace, with just enough down-time and rest to re-energize ourselves for the next little section.
This morning we had figured out that if we planned to hike the entire reroute (which almost completely avoids highway walking and mirrors the PCT as much as physically possible) then we’d be looking at almost 25 miles into the town of Idyllwild. We knew there was a campground about 15 miles into that, so we all figured we’d see how we felt as the day went on and base our decisions on that.
We got to a market along HWY 74 after about 14 miles and it was still only about 2pm, so we stopped for cold drinks and ice cream (Boyardee treated cause he’s awesome) and then unanimously agreed that’d we hike the now-recalculated 9 miles all the way into town. To be honest, it was not an easy hike. Somehow it felt like we had gone up the entire time (much of it was on the hot and dry May Valley dirt road), only to drop about 1,000 feet in the final mile through an Idyllwild neighborhood.
When we finally got into town we were giddy and exhausted. We all planned to take a nero/zero here, and as we passed storefronts we called out names of cafes and restaurants that we vowed to eat at before leaving. We stopped into a liquor store for some quick rations (Mosey grabbed a can of Chef Boyardee, Don some beer, myself some Hostess cupcakes, Energizer Bunny went with a V8, and Boyardee bought Oreos – to each their own!) and then walked the final tenth of a mile to this great little state park with hiker/biker sites for only $3 a person and showers.
It’s been a great and challenging day and we’re all more than ready for a little rest. In the end, we hiked 23.1 miles today – our biggest day yet. Tomorrow morning Pickles and I will pack up and hike through town to where the trail meets back up at Humber Park trailhead (so we don’t skip any steps from Mexico to Canada) and that’s where we’ll meet Mama Bear for a reration and a nero.