Idyllwild to Lake Hemet
Mile 151.8 – Mile 166.5 + 8.6 mile detour
Today, with great regret, I missed out on my youngest daughter Hanna’s 18th (and golden) birthday. I will also miss her upcoming graduation from high school and the expense of this trek grows ever more. Hanna, you are a mighty force for good in the world and a cherished blessing in my life. I love you and Happy Birthday! I can’t wait to see you unleashed at UW. Bow down to Washington!
My day started with a return to The Red Kettle at 6am but apparently civilized folk don’t start breakfast until 7. Settling for a cinnamon tool and coffee, I gave Herk the plumber a ring. Picture Santa Claus in jeans with square toed cowboy boots driving a red Toyota pickup and you’ll have Herk. This kind soul is an unofficial PCT Uber of sorts who lives in Idyllwild. Need a ride 20 miles back to trail? Call Herk and if he can, he will. He seems to revel in the opportunity to meet and chat with hikers from all over the world.
I threw my pack in the back of Herk’s truck and hopped in. We drove back down the hill on Highway 74 to where I had left the trail on Tuesday. I set out just after nine and was soon climbing through shaded woods, redolent of pine with granite outcroppings thrusting their way skyward. Around noon I finally gained the ridge that the trail straddles alternating sides as it continues up. To my left was the pine wooded valley that leads back up to Idyllwild and off to my right and way below, the baking desert floor where lies Palm Desert.
Just after getting above 7000 feet, at mile 166.5, I hit the Mountain Fire trail closure. Even with evidence of the fire still apparent, the ridge trail was so spectacular that the last thing I wanted to do was shed all my hard won elevation and walk the detour. Apparently two hikers in 2014 were unable to resist and continued through the closed area each paying $2500 fines for their folly.
The detour took me left off the ridge and all the way back down to the same stretch of Highway 74 that Herk and I had driven that morning. In fact, we drove right past where I am staying tonight at Lake Hemet. It hardly seems fair to do all that work today only to wind up back so close to where I started.
Sigh. I will chalk it up to the inconvenience of being principled sometimes. Wait, that’s not right. I will chalk it up to the sometimes inconvenience of being principled. It turns out that word order matters, er, sometimes.