Date: April 14, 2016
Bushcamp (mile 140.3) to bushcamp (mile 155.9)
(plus 2 off trail miles roundtrip to Paradise Valley Cafe)
Neither of us slept well. Andy woke up every hour after midnight mostly due to shoulder and IT band pain. His IT bands are insanely tight and always bother him when sleeping on a pad while backpacking (despite having the luxurious Exped Hyperlite air mattress.)
Laurie is still fighting a cold and woke up many times in a pool of yellow snot. Sudafed helps, but not for the 9 hours we sleep per night.
Laurie is a real trooper. “It’s gonna take more than this to get me off the trail.” She’s quite the inspiration!
We woke up at 5:45 and we’re ready to hike at 6:32. We’re getting faster breaking camp and getting in the morning miles.
Just before we started walking, Andy went off trail to have his morning pee and almost peed on a snake. It was coiled and never moved a millimeter, as though it was asleep. Just goes to show, we have to be alert every moment we’re out here.
We love hiking early in the morning. The desert sunrises are beautiful and temperatures are cool.
The trail today climed, plateaud, descended and climbed some more. The first 100 or so miles of the PCT were gently graded, as though it was taking it easy on us. But now, it’s getting steep. Today we climbed our first real switchbacks – a moment of familiarity amongst unfamiliar territory.
We also passed two water caches, one that was empty and one that was stocked. The second cache, called Malibu East, was wonderfully maintained by trail angel Mary. She had a food box, a mini library, picnic tables, trash and recycle bins and a really cool surfboard for hikers to sign.
Not having these caches on any maps and stumbling upon them is a real treat. Thank you Mary for putting smiles on our faces and giving us a place to rest our feet for a while.
By noon we were at Hwy 74. We hiked 12 miles by 12pm! We also contemplated whether we should go to Paradise Valley Cafe or not as we still weren’t craving any food. Ultimately we decided to go because it was our only dependable water source for the next 10 miles.
We tried hitching the one mile from the trail crossing to the cafe but only half heartedly. And when none of the first 10 cars stopped, we started walking. The smells of hamburgers penetrated our noses about a quarter mile away from the cafe. It was lunch time and we started feeling hungry.
We enjoyed lunch with Kiter, a man who we’ve been seeing on the trail and at camp the last 2 nights.
We ordered a Greek salad and a burger. The food was delicious! And the salad was HUGE. They definitely know their hiker customers and have portions to satisfy any hunger. Kiter order extra fries which he shared with us. Thanks Kiter!
After lunch we reserved a room in Idyllwild (Yay!), coordinated the visit with Andy’s parents, charged our phones and chatted with fellow hikers. Paradise Valley Cafe is very hiker friendly, and so are the people we’re hiking with right now. But alas we had to break away from the pack. Most of the other hikers were going to have dinner, camp and have breakfast at the cafe, but not us. We like sleeping in the woods.
Again we tried to hitch, but Andy wasn’t a willing participant since it was only 1 mile back to the trailhead. We soon gave up as cars honked at us and made hand gestures but didn’t stop. So we walked back to the trailhead. Laurie was feeling defeated.
It was now 4:45pm and Laurie was tired, grumpy and snotty. And her blisters were starting to hurt. She was ready to be done walking for the night.
Unfortunately we still had 3.5 miles to hike before making camp. The wind picked up and the dark grey clouds gathered yet again.
“If it rains, I may start crying. I’ll keep going, but I’ll be crying.”
Happily, it didn’t rain. We got to camp sooner than expected and all was well.
Laurie’s smile returned when she drank her hot apple cider, a treat she found in the hiker box.
It’s now 9:20pm, twenty minutes past hiker midnight. We are camped alone, surrounded by oak trees sheltering us from the wind and moonlight partially lighting our tent. We’re hoping to sleep better in these cool temperatures.
Tonight we are grateful for open communication and early birthday text messages from friends (it’s Laurie’s birthday tomorrow!!)