Total Miles: 179.4
The sun was hot and again we walked. Sensing a pattern yet? I’m starting to sound like a broken record. Just 3 miles down the trail, it was decision time. We walked along Highway 74 for a mile to the Paradise Valley Cafe where both a resupply box and a monster breakfast awaited.
Just a few miles ahead, the PCT over most of Mt. San Jacinto has been closed for the 3 years since a large wildfire ravaged the area. As a result, we had 3 detour options to get around the closure and into the town of Idyllwild. None of the options were terribly appealing, and nearly all the other hikers we met had decided on a 4th option: hitchhiking into Idyllwild instead. In the end, we all agreed to walk to Idyllwild via the most direct detour possible, a combination of road walking and forest service road walking (note: for those really paying attention to the numbers, this is why the miles don’t add up today).
I wish I could say it was more appealing than it sounds. It was a long hot slog, as the hardness of the pavement made for even more painful feet and the heat radiating off the open road only made matters worse for everyone. Just shy of halfway we found a glorious patch of shade for a break just long enough for Ace to tell her famous worm story in full regalia (it’s a long story)….
Pushing through the worst of the late afternoon heat and after 21 miles of road walking, we finally rounded the bend to the center of the beautiful mountain town of Idyllwild.
Between foot, blister, shin and hip problems, our little group is a bit of MASH unit, so a day or two off in this idyllic little town seems like just the medicine. As much as everyone wants to push on down the trail, we’re all trying our best to play the long game and take care of injuries before they become real obstacles to completing the trail.
XC, Proton, Gazelle, X-man, Ace and I are checked into this rustic cabin for a couple of nights that reminds me of childhood trips to Cedar Grove in Ontario. The aroma of pine mixed with the residue of a wood burning fireplace immediately transports me back to that place. It’s the perfect place to hole up, rest, eat, and nurse our wounds.
And when you can wear a Gizmo t-shirt while doing laundry, honestly, how much better can it get?
Of course, there was also Hank the Tank to make your day. He was as happy as a clam licking the salt off our legs while waiting to checkin.
The entire day of detouring had me reflecting on how many ways in which this trail is so different from the Appalachian Trail. Aside from the obvious differences in climate and topography, there’s a more open-minded approach to what it means to thru-hike the Pacific Crest Trail. On the AT, trail closures are rare and, as such, there’s a distinct group of “purists” who believe that anything short of passing every single white blaze is not a true thru-hike. But here on the PCT, where there is an ever-evolving patchwork of closed areas due to current or past wildfires, the concept of a “pure” thru-hike is almost completely non-existent. Today’s detour was our very first taste of that difference and it was an experience that initially made me uneasy, but it certainly won’t be the last time I’ll have to detour around a closed area so I’d better get used to it.
So happy to be here (and clean!) for 2 days of R&R.