Miles 144-151.8 + 1.2
Total Mileage 7.8 + 1.2 road walk
Today was exciting for us- we would be heading into Idyllwild, a tiny mountain town at the base of Mt San Jacinto. We’d been looking forward to checking out Idyllwild for a while, but refused to visit since we knew we’d pass through while hiking the PCT.
First things first, we had 8 miles to hike down to the road. We had decided to hitchhike into town from there, as the trail was closed 10 miles past the highway due to a fire closure, and we would have to hike out and walk 15 miles of road to get into Idyllwild otherwise.
Soon after leaving camp we came across a “Little Free Library” named Walden, in honor of Henry David Thoreau. On top of it being a fun little detour, it also served as a water cache, which is very helpful in the desert. We still had plenty of water left over from yesterday though, so we just grabbed some postcards, left a donation, and continued hiking down towards the road.
The rest of the morning was pretty unmemorable, possibly because we were both looking forward to getting into town, but not before eating what was heralded as the best burger on the trail at Paradise Cafe. The cafe was a mile down the highway off trail, but was supposed to be a good spot to catch a hitch into Idyllwild, which was another 17 miles still.
Once we got to Paradise we ran into a bunch of hikers- Jess & Frosty, Radio, Jeff, Randy, and Turtle & Magellan. We sat down with Jess & Frosty and the server came over to take our order. Apparently we were a bit too eager to get there- they weren’t serving lunch yet, but would be in about 30 more minutes. Jess & Frosty had already ordered, but after some mild deliberation they decided they would stick around and get some lunch as well. The hiker hunger is starting to get real.
After devouring all of my burger and some of Jill’s, we settled up and went across the road to get a hitch. A pickup truck pulled up after about 10 minutes, but he was only going halfway so we passed. Soon after that a highway patrol officer pulled a speeder over just down the road from where we were standing, so we knew we wouldn’t be getting a ride until he left. We walked back over to the cafe and talked to Mrs Focus for a while- she’s following her husband (Focus) up the trail in an RV while he hikes. She showed us a quilt that she’s making for this trip, and asked us to sign one of the patches. We happily obliged, then headed back across the street hoping our luck would improve.
As soon as the highway patrol car left a car pulled over and the driver said she was going to Idyllwild! We jumped in and chatted with her the whole way. We gave her $5 for the trouble and leapt out of the car, happy to get a shower and some much needed downtime. We had made reservations back in Warner Springs for a place called the Idyllwild Inn- $65 a night for hikers, $5 for laundry, and a free ride to the trailhead in the morning. After chatting up some more hikers and getting a lay of the land, we headed over to the inn.
This place was amazing. Our room had a fireplace, and a free load of firewood! Such a welcome retreat after 10 days of sleeping in a tent. We love our tent, but it’s nice to have a little more room to breathe once in a while.
We already knew we’d be spending all day tomorrow in Idyllwild as well, so we didn’t feel too obliged to get all the town errands out of the way. We both took long, luxurious showers, handed our laundry off to the front desk person, and headed out to check out the town.
Our first stop was the local gear store, Nomad Ventures. Jill was desperately in need of new shoes, and I needed some insoles. After that we headed over to the local pizza place, where they took our photos for their PCT Class of 2017 wall, and pigged out on pizza and beer.
We finally headed back to our room, started a fire, and watched Discovery Channel until we both fell asleep.