Miles 179-190.5 + 2.5
Total Mileage 11.5 + 2.5
We have camped surrounded by hikers more nights than not. We all collectively wake around 5am as we rustle in our tents and someone lets out the first hiss of air from their sleeping pad. Waking up in the Idyllwild campground was no different, except our hotel provided shuttle didn’t leave until 815am. I rolled over and tried to sleep through the packing noises, but finally Josh couldn’t handle it any longer and volunteered to retrieve us some coffee from the roaster up the street.
815am and we were standing outside the inn for a shuttle to the trailhead- actually just a woman named Rachel and her car. This is how the trail works, I am learning, part force of will and mostly magic.
We got dropped off at the Devils Slide Trail, which would climb about 3000 ft in 2.5 miles where we would meet back up with the PCT. Some hikers would continue on to the summit of Mt San Jacinto, but we decided we would rather stay on the PCT (we’ve climbed to the summit before, after all).
The climb up the Devils Slide was pretty rough. Zero days are great for resting our legs and minds, but it took a while to get back into the swing of things. On the way up we met a local man in his 80s who’s hiked this trail every week. That’s dedication!! After meeting back up with the PCT we both realized how preferable that trail is- since it’s graded for horses it’s not nearly as steep as the Slide was. We continued climbing another 2000 or so ft, basically circling the summit route. It was really cool to be able to look to the south and see just how far we’d come.
After a few hours of ups and downs (and ups and downs and ups and downs) we got the the infamous Fuller Ridge trail. Many hikers say this section is their least favorite, as it’s windy, exposed, and descends 7000 ft over the next 15 miles. We only wanted to get over the ridge, camp, and then make the descent in the morning.
After getting water from a particularly tricky spot, we headed out over the ridge. There were only small patches of snow to contend with, and the wind wasn’t too bad. It was actually quite pretty! It wasn’t until we got off the ridge that the miles started to get to us. I’m not sure if it was the elevation, the possibly too rested legs, or what, but we were both so exhausted. We had made plans to meet our friends at a campsite in about 5 miles. We both knew that those kinds of plans break down fairly easily, but we wanted to get as far down the descent as we could to make the next day easier, so we soldiered on.
After a couple more exhausting hours we got to the campsite, only to realize we were the only ones there. Did our friends stop somewhere else? Did they keep going? We weren’t sure, but we were too tired to push further so we dropped our packs and looked for a place to pitch our tent. The wind had really picked up, so we nestled into the leeward side of a large boulder and hoped for the best. Our tent has performed really well in the wind so far, but it still worries us a bit when the tent is shaking around all night, so we threw some rocks on the corners and guylines for extra security.
Not long after we started cooking our dinner did we see our friend Sarah come into camp, carrying a huge pile of sticks. “Where’s everyone else??” she asked excitedly, as she dropped the sticks on the ground. We told her we hadn’t seen anyone either, so they must still be on trail… then we asked her what’s the story with the sticks? She hastily explained that she was gathering them for Mishap (Claire) because she wasn’t able to buy trekking poles in Idyllwild, so Sarah was looking for sticks she could use as a substitute until she could pick some real poles up in Big Bear. Mishap came into camp a few minutes later, and we all jumped into our tents as it was starting to get very cold.
Just as we got settled in we heard Bird Dog (Libby) and Keith (Curiosity) coming in, announcing that there was someone cooking hot dog and giving away beer just down the way. We had just gotten warm, and wanted to sleep, so we declined, and fell asleep happy to know that we had all successfully suffered through a rough day together.