April 17, 2016
Humber Park to bushcamp (mile 193.0)
Miles: 13.6 PCT miles + 2.5 miles on Devils Slide Trail (16.1 total miles)
We loved Idyllwild but it was time to hike once more. Two nights in a bed were relaxing and restorative. But alas, the trail beckoned.
We got up around 6, did a little yoga, finished packing our backpacks and had a breakfast of leftover kabob, hummus and cake. There is nothing like starting the day with yummy leftovers!
We got a ride to Humber Park, where we caught the Devils Slide Trail, 2.5 miles and 1,600 ft up to Saddle Junction, where we picked up the PCT once again at mile 179.4.
We started hiking around 8:30am. It was chilly and windy but beautiful!. Laurie was in her happy place and even offered to move to LA if she could have a 2nd home in Iddylwild.
We were back to hiking in a proper forest – big trees at high elevation. The northern facing hillsides were covered in snow providing a nice contrast with the blue sky.
We walked through the pine forest- savoring the deep piney smell and soft ground underfoot. This is more like it! This is what we’re used to!
The San Jacinto mountains are beautiful. And even more so when draped in snow.
This beauty came at a price. In the shady areas of the trail, the snow was covered in ice and was super slippery. Andy didn’t like this at all. He isn’t comfortable on snow and it’s a good thing Laurie hikes in front of him or else she’d be laughing at him all day.
Once past the icy stretch of trail, we came to a junction where some hikers chose to take an alternate trail to the summit of Mt. San Jacinto, but not us. It was really blustery and since we had summited before, we choose to bypass it.
Then the PCT turned into a rollercoaster. Up and down, up then down. Eventually we had to drop 8,000 ft back onto the desert so every uphill felt like a mean joke. Mentally we had prepared for an initial elevation gain and long long descent, not a 15 mile roller coaster. We just kept reminding ourselves that we are out here to hike, and that every step gets us closer to Canada.
At mile 186.2 we got water for the next 20 waterless miles. This made Andy slightly nervous because it meant we would be hiking heavy through Fuller Ridge – notorious for having lots of icy, slippery snow in the early season.
At the watering hole we met up once again with Kashmir. We chit chatted about our experiences in Idyllwild and about the Lake Fire trail closure coming up.
We finished our leftovers from yesterday’s feast, got 7 liters of water to share and continued on.
Most of the afternoon we leap frogged with Bluejay, a woman from Tennessee who hiked the Appalachian Trail 2 years ago.
Around mile 188 we got to Fuller Ridge. Andy thought we had already hiked through it given all the snow we had already encountered, but we hadn’t seen anything yet.
Carefully we made our way across the snow covered trail. Our progress was slowed to a dismal 1 mile per hour, mainly because Andy is slow on the white stuff. Huge thanks to Laurie for her encouragement and advice to help him through it.
In all honesty, Fuller Ridge wasn’t that bad. Perhaps that’s because we hiked through it around 4pm when the snow was soft and not as slippery. Had we hiked through it at 7am, things could have been very different.
At 6pm, we hiked over the remaining snow and reached Fuller Ridge Campground. We elected not to camp here and hiked on another 3 miles to lose some elevation today and make tomorrow easier.
We hiked on into the golden hour. The mountains basked in an orange and purple glow. It was beautiful. No photograph we took could capture the beauty of this breathtaking desert sunset.
We hiked 11 hours today, until 7:30pm – the latest we’ve reached camp, happy to be done for the day. We thought we had covered more miles because of how long we hiked, but the snow really does make for slow going. No matter though. We enjoyed our hike and are happy to be camped in a place with a great view of Mt. San Jacinto.
Tonight we are grateful for leftovers and high elevation mountains.