It’s been a pretty amazing week.
We were picked up last Saturday at the campground in Idyllwild and whisked away to Green Valley Lake (near Big Bear) for a ridiculously fun and refreshing weekend of hanging out with family and stuffing our faces. We were treated to all sorts of goodies – treats to take with us on the trail, new pieces of gear to replace ones that weren’t working properly, showers (with real soap and razors!), laundry, and a very comfortable bed for two nights, but by far the best part was getting in so much family time. It had only been two weeks since we’d seen them but having everyone make the trip up to come hang out meant so much to us. Sadly, I don’t have ANY photos from the weekend on my camera, so I don’t have any to post here right now, but trust me when I saw we were all smiles.
Hiking away from Big Bear when we were dropped off at the trail on Monday afternoon seemed harder than when we originally left, because this time felt as though we were hiking away from family with the next date we’d see anyone still uncertain. It was also harder because we’d stuffed ourselves thoroughly and being back out on the trail and not on the comfort of a couch was a bit of a shock to our systems. But the terrain leaving Big Bear was pretty easy – relatively flat with little elevation change and cooler temps than we had seen on the way into Idyllwild. The second day of this leg was the favorite, with a nice stop at the how-did-we-not-know-this-place-existed-so-close-to-home Deep Creek Hot Springs. It’s clothing-optional but we both opted for clothing and (much to Edwin’s disappointment, I’m sure) so did all but one of the females there. We didn’t snap too many photos so as not to catch any of those more free-spirited than us unaware, but it gives a little glimpse of how pretty this place was. If every trail section had a natural hot springs in it, we’d probably be moving through the miles a little quicker.
The next day ended at Silverwood Lake which was a tease since the lake is a reservoir and doesn’t allow for swimming, but it was still a wonderful place to (probably illegally) camp in their picnic area. The terrain remained pretty easy through the next day’s descent towards the Cajon Pass, where we happened upon the most exciting sign we’ve seen so far on the PCT. One guess as to which direction we went. I’ve never in my adult life been so excited by the prospect of McDonald’s food, and likely never will again. But it provided the fuel we needed to sluggishly begin the climb towards Wrightwood.
At 24 miles for the day, we were exhausted and in desperate need of a flat spot to set up our tent. When we came upon a Jeep road at the top of a ridge, we set up camp quickly in the dark despite the possibility of a sleepless night if the wind picked up while we were in such an exposed location. When we woke yesterday morning, though, we were treated to one of the most amazing views from a campsite that we’ve had this whole trip.
It was a good start to our last day, but we quickly grew a bit cranky during the last 18 mile stretch into town. We were running low on quick food options (a hungry hiker is an angry hiker), the temperature had risen again, and despite the climb seeming much easier than the one into Idyllwild, we were still climbing fairly quickly. We dragged ourselves through the last few miles, managed a quick hitch into town when the trail crossed Highway 2, and were making for our resupply package at the post office when I spotted some familiar faces.
Knowing we were expecting to make it to town that day, my grandparents came to surprise us – and you should have seen the smiles on our faces when they did. We hadn’t been sure when we would next see family, and to be surprised with a visit was a pretty incredible thing. After some visiting, a good meal, and lots of hugs, we felt like we could have hiked on for another 20 miles. We didn’t, of course. With some information we had received from the PCT directory at the hardware store, we got set up with the Wrightwood Methodist Church Camp who allows PCT hikers to stay at their lodge for free. Bunk beds and hot showers – we were sold. We’re hunkering down in town right now hiding from the heat but plan to hike out this afternoon and do about 12 miles towards our next stop in Agua Dulce.
*Keep in mind that we skipped 100 miles from Idyllwild from Big Bear and will be doing them at the end. For uniformity and so as not to confuse anyone following along with the maps, we will still be using the actual mile markers from the trail info, but our total mileage will be 100 miles behind until we go back and do that section. For example, right now we have hiked to mile 369 but our actual mileage is 269.
One last thing – we have heard word about a PCT closure up the road – miles 466 through 518 are currently closed due to the Powerhouse Fire near San Francisquito Canyon. I understand that there is a detour along the LA Aqueduct, but we don’t know the specifics at this point and we’ve got 100 miles to go before we have to worry about it anyway. We will find out more information when we get to Agua Dulce and update everyone then.