A brief letter from the editor 😉
When we started this blog we weren’t exactly sure how often we would update it or what we would share, but it has turned into our online diary. Rob and I have so many experiences every day that we want to remember and since I ditched my paper journal to save on weight this has become the new diary of record. We are sharing a lot so however much of this journey you choose to follow along on, we love having you with us. Mentally, we are both feeling better than we could have imagined. It was a very easy transition for us to adjust to a trail lifestyle. Maybe because we did some preliminary backpacking trips or just the year before we left was filled with various difficulties, in the words of Rob last night, “I am sold. We are never going back.” We are enamored with the trail – it’s gorgeous vistas, sounds, smells of sage and wildflower and oh, the community. If only the way people treated each other on the trail could be duplicated outside the trail, the world would be a nicer place. This experience restores your faith in humanity and proves that kindness exists and it’s not hard to find. A trip like this has the potential to be trying on a marriage, but we have managed and grown stronger. We work really well as a team. We start each day with a morning kiss and have developed little roles within our camping and hiking life. We are still 2 best friends on a grand adventure. I know this blog post will be long as we have 6 days to catch up on so pour a glass of wine or a cup of coffee and pretend we are sitting together just catching up.
We started our morning waking up with all four of us in the hotel room and it worked out great. I took another shower for good measure and went to the lobby to grab a little breakfast. On my way out I had a really nice conversation with a gentleman named Darryl. His hiking group was taking up nearly all the rooms in the hotel and he was in a great mood. He is a member of the high pointers club, which I had never heard of. He has climbed the highest elevation in every single state. He is a little past his physical prime (probably about 70) but loved meeting a thru hiker and chatting. Just another great conversation to add to the list. We all managed to fit in 1 car in the ride we hitched from Mark n Diane. They passed us on the road and turned back around which was much appreciated! We took them up a very bumpy Rodriguez road so we could get back to the exact place we got off trail. We could all feel the tension grow as the dirt road became a Jeep road that they were kind enough to take us on in their suburban. We still needed to do an additional 2 miles uphill to get to the trail. Nothing like an uphill for bonus miles….Our hike today began a 30+ mile stretch without any natural water sources. This is typically one of the most difficult parts of the desert because of the exposure on the trail to heat and lack of water options. We were pretty fortunate today though because it was overcast as the sky ominously foretold of a storm coming in. We had a breeze and a really unexpected pleasant day as we took in some amazing blooms in the desert. It was a GORGEOUS morning to hike. We even stopped and did a midday desert photo shoot!!
We made it to Scissors Crossing in the afternoon where an organization of trail angels in that town that set up a massive water cache under the bridge. There were 2 water troughs full of bottled water to fill up our reservoirs with as well as trash and recycling bins. As soon as we got there someone popped up from around the corner with cold Heinekens for us. It was just getting better! We met Gail under the bridge as we filled our water and drank our beer.
She did the PCT 10 years ago and said she was back for a couple days to reconnect with the trail. We were all surprised to hear her say that a friend of hers who also did the trail felt he was ostracized by the current hikers and that the current trail community isn’t as tight. Of course we don’t have anything to compare it to, but we told her our positive experiences with the trail community and how we formed our little “family”. From there we hiked 3 miles straight up through desert switchbacks, but oh my gosh were they BEAUTIFUL. We had finally hit a little spot of super bloom up in the San Felipe foothills.
There were so many different kinds. And so many micro flowers. More than we had ever seen. Really special. Since it looked like a storm was coming in we called it a day and camped in a mini canyon wash. We joked that it had 3 apartments and Boston had the penthouse.
Night 9 below: This photo does not do justice to the view out of our tent
Really though it felt like we were camping in a botanical garden. One of my favorite moments of this entire trip so far was watching the storm roll over the ridge of the mountain. I stayed out there with Tasha and then by myself just watching the clouds roll by and inspecting all the flowers. Made for a special moment.
We walked right through the super bloom all morning tipped off by an awesome rainbow!
So many flowers we had to ford through sometimes. I took 100 pics. We had another great breezy day. So breezy that we really relied on our hiking piles to keep us on the mountain and not let the wind fling us off!! Mine and Rob’s hat flew off several times but thankfully we managed to catch it. I came around the mountain at one point and heard Tasha and Boston singing to me as I arrived 😊They were sitting with Rob and taking a break. Tasha told me she has been watching how I walk since I am the only one out of the four of us that hasn’t had ankle, leg or knee pain. Blisters I certainly have. I have named the two on both of my big toes Simon and Garfunkel. We made it to another water cache at 3rd gate where again the unbelievable generosity of the community provided water to thru hikers. These caches make a huge difference in your hike.
Not having to carry an extra 5 or so pounds of water allows you to move faster and enjoy your hike more. We knew that these were reliable caches so we carried lighter loads. We camped again with Boston and Tasha. We ran into Mellow as we were leaving the cache and he camped with us too on a bluff. We all enjoyed watching the sunset and eating dinner. We might be getting a little spoiled with amazing sunsets and stars every day. For Rob, the attack of the little toe blister n tendinitis has become a little distracting, but he is handling it well.
Woke up in a strong wind / rain storm. What do you get for sleeping on an unprotected bluff with big clouds on the horizon? Another rainbow to start the day! Lace realized 20 minutes into the hike that part of her chest strap was missing and literally ran 2 miles back and forth on the trial to find. She did, but those extra 2 miles had her feet hurting by the end of the day. The morning section of our hike was great. We passed the 100mi marker! Cheers all around. Rested at Barrel springs which ended the 30+ mile stretch with no natural water sources. Rested again at San Isadero Creek. Walked through huge high meadows of tiny flowers for the arrival at Warner Springs. The last 2 miles of a 15 mile stretch were killer because we knew the little town of Warner Springs was at the end of the stream we were following now. We hitched a ride one mile up to the one restaurant in town and met Gail again at the WS grill for dinner. Had a great Blue Cheese Cob Salad n a Meat Lovers Pizza while enjoying more conversation with Tasha, Boston, Gail and Chris (another thru hiker we met that day). I think our little hiker family and community warmed Gail’s soul back up to the trail community!! We camped behind the WS Community Center and were out cold fast. They offer free camping, $1 bucket showers that we passed on and much needed snacks for purchase. We typically crawl into the 4SR (our tent brand is MSR and written on the side but we call it the 4SR as in 4 Season Romero!) about 730 and out cold by 830.
Miles 110 to 125
Woke up to ice on Rob’s side of the tent fly and the top of his pack. It had dewed overnight and then the wind blowing from that one side froze the thick dew added to his breath that came out exactly on that spot and we had icicles. It was great to get up today and have coffee with everyone who camped with us. Mellow, Fox and Chris added to our little band last night. Boston, Tasha and the others stayed in Warner Springs for another day to rest tired feet. It was a bit sad to leave everyone today but we have an Idylllwild goal for Sunday night.
Our hike today was our most physical yet. 4000 ft of gain and 2000 back. The Spring Desert landscape continues to impress. We went through fields then along a great stream before THE ASCENT. Hot, rocky but spectacular vistas inside the San Felipe Mountains. We are camped now at 5200 ft. Bellies full of Red Beans n Rice then Oreos for desert. We are sleeping sans fly tonight as the air is dry, temperature dropping fast and snug in our big down mummy bags. We put our phones and camera in our sleeping bags at night so that the changes in temperature don’t effect the battery. Lacy also puts her clothes for the next morning in sleeping bag sometimes so that they are warm to put on in the cold morning. Lacy and I are sharing a Jonathan Kellerman book. She reads a few chapters, tears out those pages for me to read then they become fire starter for our Solo Stove.
19 miles today with lots of elevation changes. The 1600 ft + right at the end of the day were a “hurts so good 2 hours”. Two miles into the day we dropped in at Mike Herrera’s house who has a house in the middle of a dry spot. He offers water and camping for hikers. Not only that but he goes above and beyond cooking bbqs and pizzas in his outdoor pizza oven. Very cool setup, but we were on a mission to do the most miles in one day for us so far so we only stayed for the morning beers we were offered. Hikers love their beer. We did meet two brothers from Germany and Seth from Chicago. It’s amazing to see how many people come from all over the country and world to travel these 2,650 miles. There is something very special about this place and we have barely scratched the surface. When we got to our campsite the brothers and Seth were at the same place. We said hi and then got to setting up the 4SR and making dinner. Not surprisingly, everyone else was in their tent by 7:30. We didn’t eat dinner till after 8 which is really late for us. We are normally asleep by 8:30 and up about 7. This is the earliest we have been consistently asleep maybe ever.
144-151 plus 1 mile bonus walk to Paradise Cafe
We were out of the campsite before 7 which is a record for us. Knowing you have 9 miles for a warm breakfast is a great motivator and it wasn’t too cold this morning. The miles went fast though. A mile or so In we stopped at Mary’s hiker oasis. It’s a woman who hand fills a water tank, set up 2 picnic tables and a book lending library for hikers. I tell you – people really have a soft spot for PCT hikers. So sweet.
We were standing on the highway trying to hitch a ride by 10am. Sadly, we were unsuccessful so we walked the mile to Paradise Cafe where we met back up with the 2 German brothers, Seth and a couple weekend hikers we met the day before. In typical hiker spirit, we all sat down together like one big happy family. It was nice to catch up and get to know everyone better. The food was fantastic. The weekend hikers gave us a ride ten miles into Idyllwild which saved us the need to hitch. We felt bad we couldn’t take the other 3 guys with us but there wasn’t any room. Once in town, we dropped our packs at the Idyllwild Inn where we had reserved a cabin. This place is not expensive, gives a 10% discount to PCT hikers and has cabins with a fireplace, full kitchen, comfy bed and deck. A nice change for an evening. This town is so cute. We walked around for a couple hours until we could check in and checked out all the local stores, bought food for dinner, ran into 2 more thru hikers we hadn’t met yet. They started before us and are taking it slow. Freebird, the guy, has hiked the PCT at least 3 other times, said since there is no rush to get to the Sierras they have been doing less than 10 miles a day. The snow is nearly 200% ABOVE AVERAGE this year and is really delaying when we can cross that part of the trail. Normally people have a sense of urgency on trail, but with the snow conditions there is a more relaxed vibe going on. We know we are taking a break on 4/21 to go up to Seattle so foruntately that works with the snow. Originally we thought we might take 2 or 3 weeks off trail, but we have discussed coming back as soon as it makes sense with the snow. We love the trail. I’m finishing updating this blog now as we prepare to make a steak and drink some wine and hang out tonight. We have to redo our resupply plans since our original thought of stopping every week is a rookie move and not a good one. It’s way too much food to carry. It’s heavy and slows you down. We will be stopping in town more and need to figure out how long our next stretch is so we can buy the right amount of food. Fortunately we are already ahead of the game since our WONDERFUL friends sent us the sweetest package here. It included all sorts of funny notes and snacks for the trail. We were so touched!!!!