We planned on leaving Idyllwild early but the draw of a warm bed followed by a hot breakfast was too much for us to fight. While at breakfast Josh and I remarked on how different this life is. On the trail, I never really think about yesterday. In fact, when I write the blog and look back at my photos of the day, sometimes morning and night feel like two different days. Here we only seem to think about now, and the furthest into the future we get is where the next water source is. It's strange when thinking about our life before, how on a Tuesday we'd be at work thinking about what happened on Monday and what needed to get done today. Here, yesterday doesn't exist. Strange, and wonderful.
We didn't leave town until 9am and started our hike with a one mile road walk up HWY 243 to the Deer Spring Trailhead. On our way out we stopped at the ranger's station to ask if they would mail a post card I had forgotten to send. The ranger looked at me like I was an alien but eventually accepted the piece of mail. I hope she sends it. It's a postcard to one of my tenants named Julia who is in her 90's and checks her mail 400 times a day. I think it will brighten her day to get a postcard. Unless of course, she's already forgotten who I am, then it will just inspire confusion. Sorry Carlos, good luck with that. :-)
We arrived at the trailhead and for some reason I was carrying three liters of water AND a liter of Gatorade. There was no way I was going to carry a gallon of liquid up this steep trail so Josh and I chugged the liter of water at the wilderness boundary and the Gatorade shortly after.
I don't have all the specs on the Deer Springs trail but I can tell you it was effing steep! And looooonnggg. It was very pretty though, watching the terrain change from oaks and manzanita to giant cedars and sugar pines. We took frequent breaks and I noticed a familiar set of footprints in the dirt. Pillsbury. Sure enough not 20 minutes after I remarked we spotted her on the ridge above us. We talked for a while and hiked together for the rest of to the day.
Finally, we arrived at the junction to the PCT and I plopped down on my sleeping pad and took off my shoes. My feet were actually feeling surprisingly good and I think I may have found the right combination. Fingers crossed! While we ate lunch we met Tom, a section hiker from Monterey Bay. Tom said he had been hiking with Burning Daylight, an accomplished thru hiker who used to work at the Sheriff's Department with my mom and dad. I was surprised he was on the trail again this year and I hope to meet him.
We packed up and started hiking on the PCT, forever climbing higher and higher and Josh and I struggled to catch our breath with the elevation. After several stops we made it to our water source, the north fork of the San Jacinto River which was cold and crystal clear as it flowed down the mountain. We loaded up water for the dry descent down fuller ridge. Josh took 4 liters and I, 5. This has to last us 20+ miles and potentially two nights. There was a large group hanging out and eating dinner at the water source including Borealis, who was Pillsbury's twin sporting matching outfits. I desperately wanted him to introduce himself as hostess or something like that. Pillsbury and Hostess. Ha!
Josh and I were the second people to leave and we were headed for a yellow post campground 4.5 miles away. The wind started to pick up and a thick fog rolled in. The trail climbed, leaving us breathless and then plummeted down a series of short steep switchbacks, over and over. Why do we have to go up to go down?! I started to feel exhausted and Josh took my extra liter of water to help ease my load. Josh takes good care of me. I am so lucky to be with him.
We followed the trail as it turned to look over the Coachella Valley and Banning Pass and were thoroughly impressed even though we've been to the top of San Jacinto before, that view is amazing every time.
Finally, the trail made up it's mind and we went steadily down until we reached the campground which was next to a wide open barren area that reminded me of where the kids in ET signaled the mother ship. I'm sure I could use a flying bicycle tomorrow to get me down the 7,000 feet or so in 16 miles.
The temperature finally bottomed out and the wind blew icy. It was about 30 degrees as we set up the tent with frozen fingers. We dove inside and stripped off our sweat drenched clothes exchanging them with dry thermals, beanies, gloves and socks. While we cooked a fabulous sweet and spicy noodle dish that Josh created, we let the sleeping bags puff up and bundled up. Of course, just when I was warm and content I had to pee and I forced myself to get up and just get it over with.
Right now, it's 9pm and it's so cold we can we see our breath inside the tent. Today was probably the most impressive section of trail I've seen on this hike and also the most challenging. I am feeling much stronger and really, really, hungry. Just like they said I would. Tomorrow we hit the 200 mile mark! And we didn't cheat and hitch around! I'm proud of us!
Until tomorrow, goodnight!