April 15, 2016
From bushcamp (155.9) to trail closure (mile 162.6)
Miles: 9.2 (6.7 PCT miles + 2.5 miles on Cedar Springs trail to Morris Ranch Rd)
Today is Laurie’s birthday. She celebrated by drinking hot chocolate in her sleeping bag (our version of breakfast in bed) and eating cheese and crackers for breakfast. For those that know Laurie, cheese is what makes her happiest, well maybe that and riding her bicycle!
We had a mellow morning, opened a card from a friend and waited for the sun to come up before squirming out of our sleeping bags.
Our campsite was awesome. The big oak trees protected us from the strong winds and leaves provided a soft place to lie (although with our Exped mats we could sleep on rocks and not feel it!)
We left camp around 8:30 and started climbing. In 2013, the Mountain Fire burned a large section of the PCT so today we had an adventure ahead of us. Our plan was to hike the remaining 6.7 miles from where we camped to the closure, take a side trail down to a road and walk alongside the highway. From there we were going to hitchhike or road walk 5 miles to a campground.
That was our plan, but as we know and continue to learn, plans on the trail don’t last long!
As we gained elevation on the PCT, we saw the outskirts of Palm Springs to the east. Small town in view = possible reception!! We took a short break and tried to call Laurie’s mom for her birthday (Laurie and her mom share a birthday). We also called Andy’s parents to request more Sudafed since Laurie’s cold is persistent.
As we were getting ready to hit the trail again, a speedy day hiker named Bart approached and chatted with us. He knows this area very well and was parked at the bottom of our trail. He offered us a ride to town. We thanked him, said we would see how we were feeling when we got down to the road and we all continued on.
The trail continued to gain elevation on the east side of the ridge. We could see little towns (probably not so little in real life!) sitting in the valley below. In a few days we will be walking through that dry, hot, dusty valley but right now we were on a ridge- enjoying the cool wind and fresh air of nearly 7,000 ft.
We got to the junction and took a left to follow the Cedar Springs trail down to Morris Ranch Road. The trail switch backed down at least 1000 ft to a nice spring, then onto private property, a fire road and finally to the paved Morris Ranch Road.
We walked almost 100 yards down the paved road and there was Bart, sitting in his camp chair by his truck, reading a book. We decided to take him up on his offer for a ride into town. We waited about 15 min for his friend Sue to join us and all 4 of us piled into the truck. We drove up a narrow mountain road into the town of Idyllwild and Bart treated us to Mexican food. Thanks Bart!
Since we were already in town, it didn’t make sense to get a ride back down to the campground to turn around and walk back the next day. Walking the highway on a Saturday would not be a good idea.
We made a few calls, canceled our room for Saturday night, booked a room for Friday night and called Andy’s parents to meet us on Saturday rather than Sunday. Day in the bank for us!!
We walked to the post office to pick up 2 packages and a letter from Laurie’s friends. Thank you so much- you made Laurie’s birthday so special!
On the way to the post office a lady yelled
It took a moment for both of us to realize she was talking to us! She handed us each a bag of cookies and said “Welcome to Idyllwild.”
People are simply amazing.
At the post office people stopped to ask if we needed anything, another person offered to give us a ride and everyone was super friendly.
We were dirty, smelly hikers and still people wanted to help us out! So great.
We got a ride to our room (a small cabin on the outskirts of town at a place called Woodland Park Manor) and Laurie immediately started doing laundry. We washed everything by hand and laid it out to dry on the deck.
We showered- it felt amazing – and crawled into bed. It was only 6 pm but we were both super content to sit in bed – savoring the feeling of cotton next to our skin.
Laurie was like a kid on Christmas morning. She excitedly opened each package and hugged the contents. We ate cookies and kale chips in bed- later to find crumbs of both in the sheets.
We called family and friends and tried to upload the previous day’s blog but the wifi wouldn’t work and 4G wasn’t cooperating. Funny how we had better service in the backcountry and somewhat sad that we get frustrated over such small things.
Today was a wonderful day. It was full of suprises and chance encounters on the trail and in town. We were touched by the generosity and kindness of strangers. For both of us (but maybe more so Laurie since she is the planner) it was a great example of what can happen if you live in the moment and allow yourself to deviate from the plan.
We want to thank everyone who has contributed to our town fund. Thank you all so, so much. We are grateful to all of you!
Laurie is still fighting a cold- she has a deep, raspy and sexy sick voice- but after the morning gunk comes out- she is all smiles for most of the day (actually until 4pm-her witching hour, which can only be cured by candy).
We both feel so fortunate to be on this adventure- individually and together as a couple. Each day brings new views, new insights about ourselves and our relationship, and new friends.
Thank you all for your comments, your encouragement and your love. We can feel it and it helps us continue to put one foot in front of the other!
Today we are grateful for trail birthdays and chance encounters.