Idyllwild to Wrightwood @ Mile 369

20130511-135808.jpg photo by: Colin Arisman

Leaving Idyllwild we decided to pick up our pace and aim for 20 mi days. Our first day out of town we woke to a great view of the valley filled with cloud cover below us. We hiked 6 mi to a stream where we hung out with Tiffany, Midnight Chocolate, Bjorne, and a few other hikers. We all were resting up before the 20mi stretch without water, descending down San Jacinto Mt, dropping 5,000+ ft of elevation in about 15mi. We took off around 4pm and crossed the ridge at sunset and began the down hill as the light faded away. We saw headlights scattered across the mountain side as everyone tried to put in miles under the cool night sky to conserve water and because we all knew the valley floor in the day would be deadly hot. As we dropped down the wind was whipping across the mountain side as we zig zagged down the switchbacks. It was getting late and we were getting tired so we began to search for a place to camp but there was not much to be found. At about 2am we finally spotted a small sandy flat spot just off the trail just big enough for the both of us to throw down our sleeping bags for the night.

I woke the next morning to the sun already beating down on me at 7am and turned to Colin and told him we needed to get moving before the sun cooked us. We had about 9mi of hiking ahead of us to a trail angels house, Ziggy and the Bear. We dropped the last 5mi and then began the longest 2 miles across the desert valley floor as the sun constantly got hotter and hotter. We reached a bridge where Lion King was hanging out in the shade along with a cache of ice cold soda and beer! It was the only shade around and it felt so good. After having a couple drinks we hiked another mi up to Ziggy and the Bear’s to find out the the temp in the sun was a scorching 110.

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Lion King at Ziggy and the Bear’s

Upon arrival we got a bucket of warm water to soak our feet in and we had made it just in time for the daily Burger King run and each ordered a double whopper. It was a little hiker heaven, they had big tents set up in the yard for shade and carpet covering the ground. There was about 15-20 other hikers also taking refuge there. We socialized for a bit and then Ziggy made us all a bunch of salad which was amazing because vegetables, at least fresh ones, are not in the hiker diet. Then to top it off, after dinner we got a big bowl of ice cream! Colin and I were sufficiently full and headed back out to the trail. Night had fallen and we got our headlamps on and headed back into the mountains. We made camp at an old trout fishery turned campground area.
We woke to a bunch of school kids running around us on a field trip. We had decided to sleep in and hang out all day at the park and do all of our miles in the evening. I cleaned out the snake skin that I had been carrying around and stretched it to dry until we got a chance to tan it. Lion King hiked in and we chatted with him for awhile about all of the hikes and films he has made.The sun started to cool and Colin and I set off. We were quickly confused when we had to cross a wide dried up riverbed and lost the trail for a bit. We wandered around the rocky wash out area for while before finally refinding the trail. We hiked into the night up and over a ridge and then followed a stream for quite awhile. Hiking in the dark it was often difficult on stream crossings to tell where the trail continued on the other side but we trudged on through the night, at one point we saw a fox by the stream. As the night wore on we grew tired and struggled with the headlamp tunnel vision. We got to see the moon rise around 3am and finally got to camp about an hr later. We threw down our sleeping bags and collapsed.
Exhausted from the 20mi night hike we didn’t get up until about 11am. The sleep was great but we both agreed we didn’t want to hike that late again unless it was really necessary. The stream we had camped next to made a good spot to hang out for awhile as many hikers stopped there to get water and wait out the midday heat. We were cruising miles enjoying the scenery and once again hiked into the night. We ended up walking by the cages of lions and tigers that are trained for movies in the dark so all we could see were their glowing cat eyes starring at us. Shortly after we came upon a cache of sodas, bananas, cookies, and a couch to sit on. We were still about 5 miles short of where we had planned on camping but the couch was too good to pass up so we got in our sleeping bags, sat down, and went to sleep.

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We woke up early the next morning to meet my friend Mike at the road crossing at 11. We got to the road and hungout with Lorax until Mike arrived, who was delayed due to all the forest fires outside L.A. When he arrived he had pizza and beer for us. We quickly devoured the two pizzas and then drove down to Big Bear lake to relax. Mike headed back to L.A. and we went to the supermarket to resupply. As we were leaving the grocery store to figure out the bus to get to Papa Smurf’s, a trail angels house that we were staying at, Tiffany, another trail angel, spotted us and gave us a ride. Papa smurfs was great, Drama, Kaltar, and Monk were also there. We hung out in the yard organizing our food sitting around a campfire. Papa Smurf and Mountain Mama were amazing, this is their first year trail angeling for PCT hikers. They did our laundry, let us shower, and got us Chinese food. We also found a bunch of matching visors that say Lone Pine in the hiker box so Drama, Lorax, Colin, and I all grabbed one and became team Lone Pine. We crashed in the yard and in the morning they had coffee and French toast for us. We then did a quick run to the store where others did their food resupply and I went and got new shoes since my feet had grown. Options were limited but I managed to find some decent shoes at K-Mart that are bright bright orange. Around 1pm team Lone Pine hit the trail and did a quick 10miles and found a great camp spot that had a picnic table where we all made dinner before calling it a night.

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It was a pretty dreary morning, overnight we got some rain and sleet, and it was still overcast and looked like it was going to rain. We packed up and shortly after starting the rain began to fall. It was our first rain of the trip and it was also a chilly windy 50 degrees, until this day we had barely seen a single cloud in the sky. The rain was off and on throughout the day, each time we thought we had hiked out of the storm, we would take a break and it would just come right back. We pushed on in hopes of making it to mile 300 but as the day was coming to an end we were cold and wet and figured it was best to make camp. I had remembered that the map had said something about a splinters cabin 1/10th of a mile off trail at mile 298, still a 22mile day, so we checked that out and were all excited to see a shelter where we could dry out and camp for the night. We met Weeds there, she had gotten in earlier and had also decided to escape the rain. We hung all of our wet clothes and tents to dry, got in dry cloths and settled in for the night.

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Mile 300!!!
We rose to a nice clear day and set off for the Deep Creek hot springs. About 10 mi in we reached the hot springs which were amazing. There were multiple natural pools at different temps, the hottest was around 104 degrees. And along side them was a nice cold river so we went back and forth between the hot and cold. It felt great on the feet and legs. We hung out there for a couple of hours and had some lunch before hiking on. For most of the day we hiked the ridge along the river. It was a great hike as we were up aside the desert sand and brush mountain side and below us was this beautiful river with lush green vegetation along side it. We made camp after about 20 miles, a little shorter then we wanted but we were about to go back up on a ridge for awhile where we knew camp spots would be limited.
After a good night sleep we got going at 6am and had a big day ahead of us. The plan was to go 24 miles to Cajon Pass, the interstate crossing, to resupply at the gas station and pig out at McDonalds. Weeds had also arranged for us to stay at an angels house for the night, and they were picking us up there. We pushed hard all day covering 13 or so miles by noon and got to McDonalds by 5pm. It was a hard day and we were all exhausted by the time we got there. We stuffed ourselves with greasy McDonalds which definitely helped our calorie intake. Then Jennifer picked us up, Ben and Jamie now known as Baxter and Wildcat, were also with us, so we now had 7 hikers and packs to squeeze into the hatchback Kia. At first we all just stared at the car and were all a bit skeptical about fitting everyone in. It was an extremely tight fit but somehow we got it to work and luckily it was only a short ride. We got there and they had all sorts of snacks and drinks, we all showered up and relaxed in the hot tub. We were living the good life, and it was great to relax and recharge after 3 long hard days of hiking.

20130511-141532.jpg by: Colin Arisman

The next morning they made us waffles and brought us back to the trail. We had a 20 mile 4500ft climb ahead of us, so we restocked our snacks at the chevron gas station and set off. Instead of hiking together we all decided to hike at our own pace for the day. So I slowly went up the climb but didn’t stop much at all. I got to the water cache about 15 miles up first and decided to wait there to see where the others would want to camp for the night. Everyone slowly filtered in and we decided that we were just gonna call it a day as the sky was darkening and it looked like a storm was moving in and we would just do the last 13 miles to Wrightwood in the morning. We found a clearing, pitched our tents, made some Ramen, and went to sleep.

20130511-141249.jpg photo by: Colin Arisman

We all left at different times in the morning and Colin and I made it to the road by noonish. We got a ride into town from a guy who was dropping off hikers heading back on the trail. I picked up my new sleeping bag that I had sent to the local hardware store and then met up with Lorax and Drama for some burgers for lunch and pizza for dinner. They had gotten a small motel room and let Colin and I crash on the floor. Wrightwood is a great little compact town so it is easy to get around by foot . We decided to take our first zero here to rest up and let our feet heel a bit. I got my first blister back on the 24 mile day but after popping it it hasn’t been too much of a problem. But my ankle has been giving me some discomfort over the last week so it will be good to rest it up for a day. So today we are just relaxing and exploring town and will hit the trail tomorrow morning recharged and ready to go.

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