Monday, April 21, 2014

Day 15: Paradise Cafe Mile 152 to Lake Hemet 9 miles off trail Re-route due to trail closure.

After a long, restless night we woke at 5:45 and began to pack up. We moved as quietly as we could away from the rest of the sleeping hikers but they started to wake about 30 minutes after us. Josh and I made coffee and ate the last of our food which was nothing more than a pulverized pop tart. Last night, Barrel (who we renamed Jason Statham because he looks like him) was planning to hike into Idyllwild instead of hitching like the rest of our class, but he changed his mind and took a hitch leaving us the only one from the group doing the road walk.

We set out on HWY 74 at 7am in good spirits. I played music from my phone and we danced and joked as we walked. The hwy was lined with ranches and all the livestock gave us the stink eye as we passed. A couple miles in we had to pee and asked the fire department if we could use their toilet. They were very accommodating and we talked with them briefly about the trail and the closures before we set back out on the road. We sat on a guard rail for a bit to let our feet relax and a white Forest Service truck pulled up. A tall, tattooed man got out and crossed the street toward us.

"Are you guys thru hiking the PCT?" He inquired

"Yes, we are" we replied

He asked why we were doing the road walk and not on the trail. We told him the trail was closed ten miles in from the road due to the Mountain Fire. (We kind of thought he should know that already though!) He told us that the trail was open to thru hikers only and I told him that someone was just fined $2500 for hiking thru the burn zone, so he should clear up any confusion with the PCTA before advising hikers. He said that he would, and wished us luck on our trip. I facebooked my encounter to the 2014 PCT page and hopefully he PCTA will figure it out for the rest of hikers behind us.

The day was heating up and we stripped off our extra layers and two hikers, a couple we met a few days ago, came up behind us. I cannot remember their names right now! I need to take better notes! They told us that they were caught in the storm last night and that all of their gear was wet. They stopped in the sun to dry out their sleeping bags as we continued. When I turned to walk away I spotted a beat up plastic Easter Bunny toy in the gravel and gave it to Josh. Tomorrow is Easter! Pretty cool coincidence!

Some cars zoomed by without a care and others moved way over and waved to us. On our walk we saw a dead snake, a live snake, a dead bird, a dismembered bird talon, and a horned lizard. Not bad!

As per usual our feet took a dump around the 8 mile mark and we hobbled toward town. When we finally arrived we were greeted again by the couple who had given up the road walk and hitched ahead.

We drank Gatorade and 7up and ate cookies, Pringles and sandwiches in front of the store for a while and taking odd looks from the locals. We were beat and decided to not try to go to Hurkey Creek camp for fear that it was full and Josh got us a space at the Lake Hemet Campground.

We stocked up at the store and headed for the camp site. When we arrived big black storm clouds were threatening rain and we set up the tent quickly. We tossed everything inside, including ourselves, and that is where we stayed for the rest of the day. We ate, napped, talked and rested all afternoon and it was lovely.

Right now it's 9:15 and I can hardly keep my eyes open. Tomorrow we hike a series of mountain bike trails and dirt roads to get to Idyllwild where we have a hotel booked for a full zero. We've decided to skip the ADZPCTKO this year and take our zeros now. I am happy about that. Josh's feet are really hurting him too.

Until tomorrow! Goodnight!

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