Trail Camp to Idyllwild
Mile 127.7 – Mile 151.8
It’s one thing to hear the insistent wind scratching at your tent all night while snug beneath your down quilt. It’s quite another to break camp at daybreak with finger numbing wetness coating all your gear.. I rose before first light knowing I had a big day to make 24 miles to Highway 74 and a hopeful hitch 18 miles into Idyllwild.
I knew I had a less than ideal tent site, exposed on a high ridge but spots were scarce last night so I committed. When I emerged from my tent, the misty clouds were pouring over and through anything in their way. It made for a cold, demoralizing, and slow start but there was nothing to do but walk. Eventually I descended below the clouds and the day brightened until the sun returned.
The wind remained my constant companion as I passed out of San Diego County and into Riverside County around mid morning.
I also passed a tent site right at mile 140.6 that I dubbed Camp Ironman. The number’s significance is that it represents combined swim/bike/run distance triathletes complete in a single day. Let’s just say I have a new found appreciation for that distance. I passed a trail runner on Friday, shirtless but otherwise the spitting image of Forest Gump in his running days, who was setting up the PCT 50 trail run. I suppose masochism knows no bounds.
Intent on my big goal for the day (and committed to it based on the amount of water carried) I just kept plodding along until at long last Highway 74 appeared below me and my scant half liter of water. Not the best planning but the sun squeezed me hard all afternoon.
Then it was about a mile road walk (the worst kind for tired feet) to get to the Paradise Valley Café where hitching was reportedly good. Well, the café closes at 3pm Tuesdays and so was largely deserted when I arrived at 4pm. Nothing to do but sit on my pack and stick out my thumb. It took about 30 minutes but I wound up in a clean white RangeRover driven by Bunny, a real estate agent who owns a cabin in Idyllwild. Bunny’s daughter, Manuela happens to work for Microsoft out of the D.C. office doing Public Sector Productivity Sales. Ha! Small world says I and told Bunny I would complete a circle for her…
As my reward for a tough day, I grabbed a room in Idyllwild with a real bed, my own shower, and then hobbled into the local pizza joint for a feast. I am so happy right now!
A final note to amend something I posted earlier. I said “Never doubt the kindness of strangers” but that’s not quite right. It is of course okay to doubt but more often than not, you will be surprised by people’s willingness to help. What I should have said is “Never make extreme statements.”