I awoke this morning with a mission, to hike to a town called Idyllwild and to take the first shower of the trek. Today I hiked with Oliver and Metrix; we started at 6:15 am. It was only a 7-mile hike to the side trail that would take us down from the mountain to the road going towards town.
The trail included a fire detour which made for a tough hike with many ups and downs. Due some pain in my knees, I had a harder time going downhill than up. So Oliver and Metrix would pull away when we were going downhill and I would catch back up when we were going uphill.
For the route down to the town, we choose was a 7 mile hike off the mountain and 10 miles of road walking. It was not too bad until we started the road section. It was small backroad, and it seemed safe until we got to a section that had a sign that said “Use with Permission Only”. With no other option, we kept walking. We did not see anyone while hiking down the road until we hit what looked like a dead end, with a “Road Closed” sign one way and “Private Drive” the other. Just then, a man poked his head out of what looked like a machine shop and told us that the best way to was to keep going on the closed road. So we kept on, and eventually made it to the highway, where we caught a hitch in to town.
The lady and her daughter, who gave us a ride into town, told us that the fires that had ravaged the area were started by someone driving down the road throwing road flares out his truck. The resulting fire had burned a bunch of land and destroyed 5 houses. Truly terrible.
When we got into town, we called most of the hostels and hotels to find room. But with everything full, we ended up at the state park campground. It was only 5 dollars a person and they had an area for PCT hikers to stay. I achieved my mission and took a shower, it felt great!
After showering we went to the outfitters and I bought a new tent. I liked the lightness of my tarp and bivy, but with all the wind and rain, I felt more comfortable with the idea of having a tent with walls. We will see how it works out. The outfitters were super nice and let me leave my old tent with them to ship once the post office opens.
After that, we did our laundry and discussed our plans for the next day. The weather for the mountains we are to climb is predicted to be snowy, windy and cold with high temperatures only in the lower twenties. We ultimately reached the decision to take a zero day tomorrow in order to avoid the snow and freezing temps on the trail.
When we got back to the campsite, there was a man with his son and one of their friends grilling a bunch of sausages for all of the hikers. It turned out that the son had thru-hiked the PCT in 2016 and wanted to give some of the trail magic he had experienced to others. It was awesome good food and a bunch of other hikers to talk to. It was a great evening.