Hello from Idyllwild! We got in yesterday afternoon and have enjoyed kicking around the town, relaxing, and resting our feet at the campsite. Oh, and eating. Can’t get enough of that.
The two days following our exit from Warner Springs were the hottest we’d seen since leaving Campo our first day, and we quickly became experts at squeezing ourselves into the smallest available slivers of shade for quick breaks. We left Warner Springs at an elevation of a little over 3000 feet and had several big climbs in store for us before finally reaching the trail turn-off for Idywilld at about 8100 feet. To paraphrase what Edwin (somewhat more colorfully) said, “It’s *bleeping* up, up, up, and then down, just to go back up again.” The climbs combined with the heat slowed our daily mileage down to about 15 miles a day, but we really can’t complain about the views. We’re trying to remember to slow down (that part has been somewhat easy, what with all the pauses to catch our breath) and take more pictures, although it’s hard to do these sights justice with a camera.
We have met some absolutely amazing people along the trail so far. Take the little old lady in Warner Springs who stopped her car in the middle of the highway to offer us a ride back to the Community Center from the Post Office. We gladly accepted but I apologized for our ripeness as we climbed in, explaining that we hadn’t yet had a chance to use their showers. She just smiled a wry little smile and said, “Honey, you are not the only hikers who’ve been in this car.” She went on to tell us about a few weeks prior when she had transported five male hikers, all over six feet tall, in her small sedan – four of them ass-to-elbows in the backseat. Bet it smelled lovely then. :)
The day after leaving Warner Springs, we happened upon Trail Angel Mike Herrera’s house (there are many, many people along the trail who help out hikers by hosting them, feeding them, leaving water caches for them, offering rides, etc. – they are rightfully dubbed “Trail Angels”). His house is listed as a source of water on the Water Report available for all PCT hikers, and it’s an important one as it breaks up an otherwise waterless stretch in very hot territory. We were hurting when we arrived – very tired and overheated. The water tank from which he invites PCT hikers to fill up sits on the road above his house, and it was a welcome sight. We filled our bottles, quickly treated them, and each drank a couple of liters before noticing the sign inviting hikers down to the house to sign the trail log and introduce themselves. We headed down and had the opportunity to meet Mike and three other thru-hikers who were all staying there for a time helping out with various projects. They welcomed us in, immediately fed us, offered us sodas or beers, foot soaks, and a chance to do some laundry. We had just done laundry the day before in Warner Springs so we were content to sit for a few hours in the shade just laughing and swapping stories. It was a nice reminder that we’re out here not to focus on the finish, but the “getting there.” It was also the third time we’d sat in a chair in a week, so neither of us were complaining.
People in Idyllwild have been no less welcoming. Most of the businesses have a PCT hiker discount, the local library makes their computers available for use, and the self-proclaimed “Cookie Lady” made her rounds at the campsite this morning with cookies for all the thru-hikers staying there. We’ve been amazed at the kindness of the people we’ve met, many of whose names we haven’t even had the chance to learn . The hiker community is alive and well out on the PCT and we are loving being a part of it.
One quick announcement: we will be skipping from Idyllwild to Big Bear tomorrow morning. When initially planning our trip, we assumed we would have made it to Big Bear by tomorrow morning, day 13 of our trip. We may have been a bit optimistic about our starting speed. We had plans to meet up with family near Big Bear on Saturday and stay until Monday, which we have been looking foward to so much that we were hell-bent on keeping them. My very patient parents will be picking us up from Idyllwild tomorrow morning and transporting us to the family get-together. On Monday, we will hit the trail again from Big Bear and continue heading north. Once we reach Canada, we will come back and complete the remaining 100-mile section Idyllwild to Big Bear as our last, wrapping up our not-completely-consecutive thru-hike.