From Warner Springs to Idyllwild (Mile 179)

Leaving Warner Springs

Leaving Warner Springs

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.

Uh-oh - one escaped!

Uh-oh – one escaped!

An absolute paradise in the middle of an otherwise scorching day. True story: when he woke up from this little cat-nap, drowsy and completely confused, he couldn't determine exactly where he was and said his only thought was, "Am I in HELL?!" He didn't tell me that story until hours later, and I basically haven't stopped giggling about it since.

An absolute paradise in the middle of an otherwise scorching day. True story: when he woke up from this little cat-nap, drowsy and completely confused, he couldn’t determine exactly where he was and said his only thought was, “Am I in HELL?!” He didn’t tell me that story until hours later, and I basically haven’t stopped giggling about it since.

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.

Pure elation when we saw this sign

Pure elation when we saw this sign

On the way into Anza

On the way into Anza

Random (and rare) breakfast stop at a cafe in Anza a mile off the PCT

Random (and rare) breakfast stop at a cafe in Anza a mile off the PCT

Starting to climb

Starting to climb

Worth every hamstring-burning moment

Worth every hamstring-burning moment

Tahquitz Valley Meadow - approx. 8100 feet elevation

Tahquitz Valley Meadow – approx. 8100 feet elevation

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.

On Devil's Slide Trail down to Idyllwild. I spy an Eddie.

On Devil’s Slide Trail down to Idyllwild. I spy an Eddie.

A closer look ...

A closer look …

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.

Back with his "people"

Back with his “people”

From Mt. Laguna to Warner Springs (Mile 109)

The first 100 miles are under our belt. Only 2550-ish to go. :)

I don’t want to jinx anything, but the last couple days have been easier. We’re both feeling stronger and better overall. Our packs are beginning to feel more comfortable and we’re starting to get our “hiking legs.” It took us the first 3 days to make it 47.5 miles and we’ve covered 61.5 in the 2.5 days since. Minus a few ailments each (couple of blisters for both of us, some tenderness in ankles, knees, shoulders/backs, and a mysterious bruise the size of Texas on my leg), we’re doing well.

Leaving Mt. Laguna

Leaving Mt. Laguna

We left Mt. Laguna Wednesday afternoon and hiked a few miles to an RV campground where the very lovely people at Ed Bahr’s Shriners Camp let us stay for free in exchange for a promise to help someone in need out whenever we get the chance. We enjoyed a free shower, a working toilet, and a cozy porch where we set up to stay out of the wind. We didn’t set up a tent that night, just put our sleeping mats and bags right on the porch and mummied up in our sleeping bags. It was COLD up there, which was a welcome change from the heat we’d been hiking through. Beautiful landscape, too. Tons of pines and very quiet.

Windy but so beautiful

Windy but so beautiful

Setting up "camp" at Ed Bahr's

 

Beautiful sunrise at Ed Bahr's

Beautiful sunrise at Ed Bahr’s

The next morning we set out aiming to hit about 20 miles and ended up doing a few more than that. A few hours in to the day we ran into an older gentleman who had started hiking the day after us and already caught up. He puts us to shame – he is a machine! We’ve leapfrogged back and forth with him a few times since then, but think we bid him adieu for the final time this morning when we pulled into the Hiker Center in Warner Springs and he was just leaving to hike on. We probably won’t catch him again. The three people we met that started the same day as us all took additional rest days at previous campsites and we haven’t seen any sign of them since.

Early morning hiking away from Laguna Mountain Recreation Area

Early morning hiking away from Laguna Mountain Recreation Area

This is the way we dry our socks when it's windy and we're stopped for lunch

This is the way we dry our socks when it’s windy and we’re stopped for lunch

Yesterday was another long hiking day (24 miles, our longest yet), but we called it a day at about 6:30 or so and enjoyed a leisurely set-up of camp, a nice baby wipe bath (ha! With the assistance of Edwin’s mom before we left, we lovingly packaged 3 wipes per day each and included them in our resupply packages. Let me tell you that baby wipes do NOT stand up to PCT hiker dirt. We’re still happy to have them because it’s better than not, but we are certainly bringing filthy to new levels), and an early bedtime.Pretty awesome campsite

We woke up this morning with 14 miles left to get to Warner Springs and we had heard rumors that there was a volunteer center here complete with showers, laundry, and food. That was all the motivation we needed to make it here within about 5 1/2 hours. We were practically stampeding.

Tired and filthy but loving it

Tired and filthy but loving it

We hadn’t met as many people as I thought we would until we got to the center here, where several other groups are laying up doing laundry, showering, and resting tired feet. Several are staying nearby tonight, but we’re hiking on and making a push to reach Big Bear by next Saturday morning to see family and stay in a bed for a couple nights. Headed out to make a few miles towards the next section (to Idyllwild), so we’ll update soon!

Can't beat that view

Can’t beat that view