Mile reached: 168.6 (+12.9 + 7.7 alternate)
High: Sustained beautiful views from the trail with no wind!
Low: The vast majority of thru-hikers skipped 17 miles of trail. (I agree with ‘The Fuzz” now.)
Thru-hikers encountered: 5
Adorable Australian cattle dogs encountered: 2
The next destination was Idyllwild, which technically isn’t on trail, but everyone stops there. This is reinforced by a significant closure still in effect due to the 2013 Mountain Fire. There is 17 miles of open trail plus an additional 14 miles of alternate to downtown Idyllwild.
After yesterday’s brutal heat, I decided to modify the previous day’s plan of attack. Namely, get up early and move before the sun is hot and now wait out the hottest part of the day. This worked out ok at first. The trail aggressively climbs the ridge on the west side, but soon the trail crossed to the east and I spent much of the climb in the morning sun.
I passed “The Fuzz” and crew. They weren’t planning on going as far as I was, but I’ll likely see them in Idyllwild. Little did I realize that I’d only see one other person the whole day. It would appear that a significant majority of hikers are skipping the section before the fire closure altogether. Hike your own hike and all that, but it rubbed me the wrong way. It’s one thing for people that are struggling and likely won’t make it to Canada, but another entirely for people just doing it out of sheer laziness. What’s to keep them from skipping other hard parts and how much can you skip and still consider it a thru-hike?
I went all the way to the closure boundary and had a two hour lunch in the shade of a pine tree. However, I was running low on water, so I dropped down the alternate to a spring. The water was nice, but the slope was brutally sun exposed because all the trees had burned in the fire. So, I kept going down the trail running stretches until I found a lone pine tree where I napped for an hour. From there a to mile road walk brought me to a campground.
There I found an enormous gathering of Spanish speaking Seventh Day Adventist families having some sort of event. Being the lone hiker trash in this campground and so far from the PCT, they must have thought I was some kind of weirdo.
I did eventually meet some people from a mountain bike club and was able to yogi some food from them. Carne asada and guacamole was delicious. They also had hummus and a broccoli salad! One of the members had two dogs that were obsessed with frisbees. Also neither could abide the other getting undivided attention and would quickly try and take center stage.
As much fun as it would be to drink margaritas late into the evening, I called it early so I could beat the sun up the hill to Idyllwild in the morning.