It is day six on the PCT for me and the trail resumes at Scissors Crossing, where hikers go into or get to from Julian. I eat a couple of slices of my Apple Boysenberry Crumb Pie for second breakfast and leave the rest for hikers coming in after me.
After a nice time spent with other hikers in town, it is time to get cracking again. It is a long stretch to the first water source. With water for 14 miles, about 4 liters, I start the climb onto a ridge. Cacti and wildflowers decorate my path up to the top.
It didn’t take long before the beauty turned into a repeating bore. The trail followed the ridge for miles upon miles, the same view on the same valley with the same mountain and the same road. Motivation was hard to find. Just before lunch the trail finally turned and the view changed, raising my mood. Only to be down again as I realized I forgot my spoon in Julian. My knife would have to do to get peanut butter and tuna on tortillas (Separate ones, don’t worry I’m not yet that barbaric. Not yet.). At camp I met about eight new hikers. We ate out dinners in a circle talking about the day and the trail. Having nog spoon, I had to be creative in making a ramen wrap, dumping my instant ramen into a tortilla.
The next day was everything the previous was not. Amazing views from start to finish. Green meadows stretching as far as the eye could see. Wind blowing through knee-high grass made it look like a magical moving object.
Before getting sucked into the vortex of the Warner Spring Community Resource Center, we passed the 100-mile marker and Eagle Rock. Two of the first milestones hikers look forward to on the trail.
A ‘vortex’ is a place on or close to trail to which hikers are drawn. There is usually real food, soda, beer, fresh water, maybe a shower or other amenities.
My intention was to get some more food and a new spoon, but ended up staying the night. I too was caught in the vortex of Warner Springs. Doing some laundry and finally setting my tent up first the first time on day seven.
After Warner Springs it was time for Mike’s Place, the house of a trail angel in the middle of nowhere, where according to rumors there would be beer and homemade pizzas. My intention was to get there as quickly as possible and to achieve that I was flying on the trail that day. By 15:00 I had hiked almost 18 miles and was enjoying my first beer. Staying at Mike’s was amazing. All hikers got to enjoy beers, sodas, pizzas and the company of each other. At night the projector came out and we watch The Big Lebowski on the garage door.
The last couple of years, people have been very negative about the place. It was creepy and weird. This year a new caretaker was brought in, ironically named Strange, who totally turned the place around in my mind. Nothing creepy or weird occurred and we had a very chill time. I would certainly recommend staying at Mike’s while on the trail.
The next stop after Mike’s is Mary’s Oasis. I’m not making this up. The hike took me from the luscious green hills into a gorgeous but sizzling hot desert. It was just about crunching those miles, 18.1 of them to be exact. The desert drained me and where I was doing almost 4 miles an hour towards Mike’s, the last 3.6 miles to Mary’s took me almost two hours.
After Mary’s the next stop on the Pacific Crest Trail was just over 6 miles away. Although it is 1 mile off trail, the iconic Paradise Valley Café is a stop few hikers skip. My dad and I had lunch there 1.5 weeks before while driving to San a Diego. This time hiker hunger had started to come around and I ate and drank my fair share. A breakfast burrito, burger, vanilla milkshake and two beers all went down easily before hiking out again. Just 5 miles before setting up camp for the night. The sunset from camp was again stunning.
The next day was a brutal one. Water sources were sparse and off-trail, usually far below the trail as well. To get as close to Idyllwild (the town I’m in now) as possible, I wanted to get 18.1 trail-miles done before camp. The trail had massive elevation gains and losses, which made it so brutal. 1600 meters of ascends and 900 meters of descends on the trail alone. Besides that, the off-trail hikes to water were 1.5 miles with 225 meters elevation changes. As brutal as it was, as beautiful it was too. The elevation gains meant stunning views over the mountains and the valleys below. The last part of the trail went through a newly reopened section, which had been closed for the last 5 years due to wildfires.
Being in town feels like coming home. Good food, clean clothes, a shower (first one in 7 days), beers, sodas and we even went to the new Avengers movie with dozens of other hikers.
Idyllwild is a wonderful little town. All locals are so nice to us hikers and we had a great time here. Tomorrow (Wednesday May 1st) we’ll hike out again, planning to summit Mount San Jacinto before resuming the trail towards Big Bear Lake (mile 270). I hope to be there by next week Tuesday.
My next post will be from Big Bear Lake. Until then I’ll update my Instagram when I can.