Day 15 (April 22): PCT Mile 171 – 179.4

Making it to Idyllwild

Beginning Elevation = 6,900
Peak Elevation = 8,600
Ending Elevation (Idyllwild) = 5,400
Weather: Nice, cool, rained lightly off and on once in town

Overall, I was happy with my tenting location the night before. It was pretty uncomfortable, but I slept ok. I had some sort of bump underneath my butt so that my legs dipped and my head too, but I was out of the wind!  I woke up around 2:00am to some serious loud wind blowing up above. I also took a peak outside my tent at one point in the night and saw the lights of Palm Springs below. Pretty neat.

I got on the trail at my typical time. Some of the tenters around me had already gone and those who hadn’t seemed to be packing up.

I enjoyed my hiking today immensely, but it was another tough one. It started out by making a long trek (about 5 miles) around the “bowl” that my tent site overlooked. I attempted to mark up this photo during a break today to try and show a rough idea of how it went (it’s beautiful artwork I know)! I wanted to show that even though this is the Pacific Crest Trail, it’s not as though we’re trekking along the peak tops, rather the trail makes long gradual switchbacks mostly and makes its way along the sides.

Had a breakfast stop around 7:30am. A hero of mine, Jim Hopper (Stranger Things), once said, “Mornings are for coffee and contemplation.”  So that’s what I’m doing here…

My plan for the day was to make it to the town of Idyllwild, but what I was still unsure on was which of the three side trails to take. Big decision. After considering all aspects, I felt I would follow the herd and go to the middle one at Saddle Junction, called the Devil’s Slide Trail. Acting on this decision was still some miles ahead though.

Once above 8,000 feet or so, snow became more common, then it became so that it was covering the trail in most areas. At this point, I got out my micro-spikes to try out. I’m sure if I have to keep wearing these things, I’ll get really sick of them, but day one was a success! I liked the way they fit and the traction they gave me. The snow wasn’t really slick and the slopes weren’t really steep here, so I never felt that I truly needed them, but still I was glad to have them.

I went really slow through all this. That’s a lesson learned today is that snow slows things down a great deal. Plus, I was sucking in some deep breaths from the higher elevation.

I got to this sweet creek and filled/filtered some ice cold water…

Eventually, after much struggling keeping track of the trail (the snow made is so you couldn’t see it and thus several new trails were created from hikers ahead of me…I had to use my phone’s location and mapping app several times), I made it to the first turn off to town. My decision earlier in the day was firmed up when I read on the app that this trail was really dangerous, so onward I went to Saddle Junction!

I only went about 7 miles or so today on trail, but it felt like longer. The side trail into town was 2.5 miles I think and was fairly steep…it’s going to be rough going back up. When I got to the parking lot at the bottom though, their was a Subaru there dropping off a hiker I knew, Arnie. His driver called over to me, “Trail angel here! Need a ride into town?” I was happy to accept her offer. She introduced herself as Trail Mama Jules, drove me into town and, and was kind enough to give me a tour of her hometown – Idyllwild.I got dropped off at the Village Market and ran into a guy named Naps and then Eliza and her dog Aspen too. We ended up getting lunch (3:00pm by the time we got eating…and I’d run out of my food at breakfast) at Idyllwild Pizza…After “lunch,” I made my way to the state campground on the edge of town and checked in. $5 a night to stay in the PCT hiker designated area, not bad at all. Set up my tent, then walked down to the laundromat. I shared a washer with a hiker named Dawson from Kansas (yes, in true thru-hiker fashion, I’m dunning my rain gear).After laundry, I quickly walked back to camp, threw my clothes in my tent, and went to take a shower! Then, I rushed over to the Rustic Theater to watch Captain Marvel with Eliza (others bailed on us). I may have already seen this flik, but they have only one movie showing one time each day, I love small town theaters, and am getting myself pumped for Avengers Endgame.After the movie I walked to the brewery in town, but hikers go to bed early and at 8:00pm, I didn’t see anyone I knew. On my way back to the campground though, I ran into the group who I tented with the night before. They had bought some firewood and marshmallows! I quickly bought a ham sandwich for my late dinner and went to join for my first campfire on the trail! I wish we could do more of these, it was a good time standing around the fire.Another packed full day 😊

One thought on “Day 15 (April 22): PCT Mile 171 – 179.4

  1. Emily Brittenham

    Yay! A campfire 😊.

    You’ve been experiencing a lot of elevation gain/loss! Sounds and looks super challenging. But also rewarding.

    I love the quote by Jim that mornings are for coffee and contemplation. Totally agree! You mentioned meditating in an earlier post. I’d highly recommend trying out the practice of meditation/mindfulness/contemplation. The trail seems like a great place for it 😊. I’m experimenting with it myself and really enjoy it.

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