I’d heard good things about a little mountain town called Idyllwild during my shakedown hike with Jake, a 2015 PCT thru-hiker, just two weeks before I left for California.
He said Idyllwild was an amazing little place and that when I got there, I should take my time and explore.
So when Sprite, Roadshow & I arrived, we took our first zero day.
Idyllwild has a backdrop of the San Jacinto Mountains. The population is 3,800, and everybody I met was very hiker-friendly.
The town streets are lined with thrift shops, wineries, chocolatiers and restaurants, all within walking distance of one another.
We spent our time relaxing at a cabin owned by Idyllwild Inn that my momma and Dave rented for us! We were so thankful. It was home for the night.
The Inn holds resupply boxes for hikers, and even lets hikers store there packs there while they meander around town.
Our cabin was #4.
The trim of the windows and door was painted green and yellow, a little touch from home. Go ducks!
The cabin had enough space for everyone to spread out. We also got to clean up in the shower and wash ALL of our clothes on site. The next day, we played at the park in the center of the campus, the first time I’ve sat on a teeter-totter in years.
A grocery store across the street supplied us with a bountiful salad that night that we enjoyed with pizza and some PBR’s.
We were all exhausted, and after dinner, it was time for bed. Out here, 8pm is known as hiker midnight.
The next day, we took the Deer Springs trail out of Idyllwild to connect back to the PCT. we had quite the climb ahead of us, about 4,000 feet of gain in six miles.
The trail was so beautiful.
The waterfalls were stunning, complied with massive rocks and segways to the next fall. Sometimes I couldn’t believe what I was seeing. The sights restored my energy after the uphill battle.
We hiked about 14 miles that day and set up camp early. Roadshow was so excited to be up in the mountains, a change of scenery from the desert. We slept in a campspot with the most incredible view. That night I sat on a ledge and watched the mountain in front of me change to eight different shades of purple with the sunset. Just incredible.
The next day we planned for a 20-mile day. This day consisted of the most downhill I’ve ever done, dropping from about 9,000 ft to 1,300 feet. Tough on the joints, but I’d prefer downhill to uphill most times, because you’re not losing your breath and less stops are necessary. We jetted down the mountain and made it to a spot under a bridge by about 4pm.
Under the bridge we found a trail angel supplying a styrofoam cooler with soda and beer, all surrounded by ice. It was lovely. There was also fresh (and filtered) water, snacks and garbage cans. It’s nice after a few days of hiking to empty your “garbage bag”, because carrying the weight of wrappers is actually a thing. Lol.
He told us about a trail angel, Hillbilly, who would be happy to host hikers that night. We took him up on his offer.
It was Cinco De Mayo, and Hillbilly made fajitas for the crew. We also got to shower, do laundry and we ended the night with a superman movie.
Hillbilly is quite the collector of things. In every room he had collections ranging from toy cars to stuffed animals. He was such a character, and I think really enjoyed having hikers over. We were so grateful for his kindness.
The next morning, we were on our way to Big Bear when a storm decided to show up.
Getting pulled back and forth by the wind on the ridge of a mountain is no joke! We hiked that day with a couple other hikers, their trail names are Beetroot and Afrikool (long story). We made it about 12 miles to the Whitewater Preserve, and decided to wait out the storm there. Since we were there by noon, we had plenty of time to explore.
The day we were at the Preserve probably goes for my favorite day on trail. It was BEAUTIFUL. I can’t even put into words this place. It’s like you’re walking into a resort, with palm trees and a beautiful river surrounded with white sand. We spent our time throwing rocks into the river, bird watching and laughing for hours. I hope one day to return to this spot.
We also saw our first rattlesnake at the Preserve! Sprite shot this photo.
That night was a windy one, but we made it through! I can’t remember how many miles we had till Big Bear at that point, but we were on the go. The day we got into Big Bear we completed 20 miles by 2pm! We were pretty stoked about that.
When we got into Big Bear, Papa Smurf (a well known trail angel in the area) picked us up at the trailhead and took us to town. We stayed that night at a Travelodge with some other hikers, and looked forward to the free continental breakfast the next day. It was delicious, I might have taken some pasteries with me for the following days.
We checked out, went and grabbed lunch and made our way around town. We stopped at a candy store (if you know me, you know I LOVE candy), outfitter and a couple natural foods stores. It’s so nice to be able to wander around an unknown town without a schedule. Just exploring, here and there.
Around 5pm we resupplied at the local grocery store and hitched back out to the trailhead. The lady who gave us a ride was awesome, and said she only gives rides to hikers if they text their parents and let them know they’re okay. We were her third set of hikers she picked up that day. When she dropped us off, she picked up another few hikers who were waiting for a ride in town, even though she had yoga in 15 minutes. It’s incredible the amount of people who dedicate their time to helping hikers. We are SO appreciative.
We camped last night with several other hikers, just two miles from the trailhead. Our second night with a fire to keep us warm, and this time with marshmallows to roast.
I woke up in the middle of the night not feeling to hot. I decided I needed to head back to Big Bear to take a day off. Roadshow and Sprite came with me to make sure I was okay. I’m sitting now in a hotel bed feeling pretty under the weather, but I’ll be back out there as soon as I can. Hopefully tomorrow.
A couple things I’ve learned on trail:
This adventure is almost like a long vacation. Except, your putting in hours of hard work, hopefully work that you enjoy. You spend countless nights under the stars and look at breathtaking views on the daily. BUT, life still happens out here, just like it does in society. You get sick, your debit card gets used fraudulently, the Post Office doesn’t ship your box on time, get shin splints, etc. But the trail has really helped me decide how to react to such situations. You can’t control what happens in life, you can only control how you react to it, and what you’re going to do next. When you’re out here with limited options, keeping a level head is key.
Another thing the trail has helped me with is restoring faith in humanity. I heard this a lot from former hikers at REI classes I took before I left for the trail, but seriously, the amount of time, money and kindness regular people dedicate to help hikers is INCREDIBLE. Most times, people are doing this for FREE. But another way the trail has helped me restore faith in humanity is by the friends I’ve made. As soon as Roadshow and Sprite found out I was sick, they made the choice to head back to town with me, even though I’d be in bed all day. I’ve only known these people for a short time, but their kindness and generosity makes me feel so much better. Even with a high fever. I’m truly grateful.
Hopefully we’ll hit the trail tomorrow. Our next stop is Wrightwood, 363 miles in. Getting closer and closer to the Sierra everyday. Everyone keep your fingers crossed for a big snow melt! We need it!