2.9 miles hiked (plus 27.7 imaginary miles)
179.4 miles total
Tentsite to Paradise Valley Cafe to Kick Off to Idyllwild
So, over the past few days I’ve been from mile 150 back to mile 20 and ahead to mile 180, and simultaneously put in almost zero miles of walking.
On Thursday I hiked the easy 3 miles to the highway where the famous Paradise Valley Cafe is only a mile up the road. I woke up early so I could get there right when they open at 8 to get my first restaurant meal of the trip and a breakfast beer (it was on the menu!)
The only plan for the day, after gorging ourselves on eggs and hashbrowns, was to get a ride back to mile 20 where they host Kick Off. There were 10 of us all looking for rides, so Sock Pot quickly decided that we had the perfect conditions for a hitch race.
The rules were simple – 5 minutes to noon we would draw names out of a hat to find out who our partner was. At noon the race starts and whichever pair gets to Kick Off first wins (2 1/2 hour drive on 4 or 5 freeways).
Right at noon all of the teams ran to the road with their thumbs up and hopped in random cars. I took a different route and decided to find a ride in town from someone who was already going down there. We ended up getting a ride a couple hours later with my buddy Big Red and two guys who had hiked the trail in 1977! We came in 4th, but heard some awesome stories (another team got 9 different hitches!)
Kick off was fun, but wet. It stormed the second night pretty hard and everyone was anxious about how their shelters would hold up. I got to see some friends from Portland who had hiked the trail, which was so great and comforting. I resisted the urge to buy any new gear from all of the lightweight gear vendors. But most importantly, I was able to rest!
I left mid day Saturday to head back to Idyllwild where I’ll pick back up on the trail. I took a third zero today to buy food, do laundry and let some of the snow melt off of Mt San Jacinto, where I’ll be headed tomorrow.
I should explain that I skipped a good portion of the trail due to a fire closure from this past year. It’s been a hard decision for me, so I’ll go into it a bit.
Essentially, the fire has wiped out a large portion of trail going up towards San Jacinto, and the section is closed with fines of 2,500$ already given to hikers this year for trying to hike through. Normally the PCTA works hard to put together a detour route on trails or roads to bypass the closed sections. But, because of issues with private property and windy mountain roads, there is no detour. The official detour is to hitch around – huge bummer.
After seeing the highway that I would have to walk along (windy mountain highway with no shoulder) I decided that it wasn’t worth it to try to walk around. Every unofficial route that’s been posted includes at least 5 miles along the highway and 10+ more of private property, following power line clearings, and bike trails.
SO, I won’t have continuous footsteps, which sucks, but I also won’t have been hit by a car or infringing on others’ property.
After 3 days off I’m feeling fresh and antsy to get back on trail. The next day or two will be especially challenging with a 2000 ft climb and an 8000 ft descent all in 30 miles. But! I’ll be in the mountains and pine trees and out of the desert for the first time this trip!