Day 9 – Idling in Idyllwild

Idyllwild, CA
Mile 151.8


Idyllwild, CA perches at 5413 feet amid tall pines in the San Jacinto Mountains. The town can be reached from several different points along the PCT making it another nexus of scruffy, hobbled people this time of year. Hikers are easy to spot usually wearing rain pants, puffy coat, and beanie and shuffling about town in flip flops. This is usually because all their other clothes are being laundered.

A classic specimen

I am not sure when peak infestation occurs but I saw scores of hikers and rather than minding much, the townsfolk I encountered were nothing but welcoming. I had pancake breakfast at The Red Kettle and then hit the post office to grab another box. This time I returned with some unneeded gear that I exiled back home including bug juice, mosquito net, Apple Watch, and a few misc cords. Not much weight but it all counts. I’m getting to the point where I can feel my pack lighten when I take out a 1 liter water bottle (2.2 pounds).

The Red Kettle welcomes PCT hikers

So it was a day of chores and strategizing for what comes next. Ahead there is a trail closure due to a 2013 fire that requires a detour. Some folks use the rat’s nest  of routes accessing Idyllwild to exit the trail before the closure and return to it past the closure. I’m no purist but I’ve decided to attempt a continuous path of walking for my PCT. This means I will return tomorrow morning to where I departed the trail and walk the suggested detour.


I also thought it would be useful to share an overview map that puts some of the places I mention in context. This link will take you to a larger view. This next leg will take about 5 days and land me in Big Bear.

My track so far…

Finally, there have been some questions about the speed and distance shown on the Garmin MapShare site. The GPS device I carry reports its location every ten minutes and draws a straight line from the previous point. If the trail was straight, an accurate speed and distance would be calculated but the trail is anything but straight. The local reading I get based on location pings every minute is 2.9 mph average to date. I use the official PCT mile marks to report distance. Accounting for elevation, I am going a bit faster than I had planned. The happy result being that I wound up in Idyllwild two days early and enjoyed a relaxing, recharge day.

8 Replies to “Day 9 – Idling in Idyllwild”

  1. Hi John, I was wondering since you are ahead of scheduling should I adjust any boxes? Glad you took a day off to refresh. Wahoo!!! Momma


  2. Nice report…and the trip to Big Bear looks adventurous… hopefully not too much downhill on the toes. I am certain that by the time you get to I-10, you will look back at the San Jacintos to the south with humbleness… They are super high compared to the WA Cascades. Enjoy my brother…


  3. Hi John! My name is Madeline and I am the daughter of one of your wife’s co-workers at Lake & Co (Lisa Wallace-Baker). I’m planning on doing the PCT in 2020 and have expressed my interest to my dad. He sent me your blog, and it seems that you are right by my house 🙂 I live in Orange County, CA – close to Newport Beach. If you need anything (including a homemade dinner, a place to stay for a night, or a shower!) please let me know! I’d be happy to pick you up or drop off anything you might need. Not sure how best to get in contact with you.


    1. Hello Madeline, glad to have you along and thanks for your generous offer. I think I’m good for now but will keep you in mind as I round the corner ahead and head west. Psyched for you in 2020!


  4. Just a note of thanks for your regular updates. It’s really fun to follow along with your journey and imagine the sights and experiences through your journal. Especially fun to check your GPS tracks and imagine where you are when I’m sitting in a tedious meeting with rain sheeting the windows. But I get daily showers. Keep it up my friend!


    1. Thanks Michael, that’s why I’m doing it. I’m writing to pay forward all the bloggers from years past who took me with them. Enjoy (and bring bourbon) 🙂


  5. Hey! awesome work today doing 23+ miles of up and DOWN! (only to be around 10 miles from the starting point… Tomorrow it is all the way back up again… and I am cheering you on!!!


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