CA PCT 2018

Idyllwild to Big Bear

APRIL 3

There was no need to get up early today since we needed for businesses to be opened. The morning activities would include showers, laundry, grocery shopping and going to the post office to pick up our resupply boxes. We found the town to be very hiker friendly. Even the laundromat had loaner clothes that one could wear while washing their trail clothes. Don went to the post office to get our boxes and while I organized the food, he did the laundry. A trip around the town led us to try the pastries at the bakery. We were not disappointed. We had originally planned to spend another night here, but with all the errands finished and the temperature dropping some we decided to pack up and head back on the trail. During the day we had met several hikers. One women had just gotten the trail name of Spikes. She was quite excited. Our packs were back to being full so we meandered up the trail  Grey Squirrels with big bush tails entertained us as they ran in front of us.

 It was a beautiful trail with Mountain views and large trees. Once again we are amazed at how quickly the ecosystems are changing,

It was a beautiful trail with Mountain views and large trees. Once again we are amazed at how quickly the ecosystems are changing,

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 Hugging a tree is always good for the soul.   

Hugging a tree is always good for the soul.

 

 As we neared the top. we came upon the first snow patch. 

As we neared the top. we came upon the first snow patch. 

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As the sun set, the temperature quickly dropped below freezing. We found a site that needed a bit of work, but soon our tent was up. We put all our layers on and headed to bed, thankful to be back on the trail.

Miles hiked 7

APRIL 4

It was a cold morning as we packed up . The ground around us was frozen. We took a short hike to Deer Springs where we needed to fill our water bottles. It would be 20 miles before there would again be water. We had carried micro spikes for this section of trail, but we were able to avoid the icy section that would have required them. Several weeks earlier they would have been needed. It was a beautiful section of trail with Mountain San Jacinto often in view.

 We opted not to climb to the summit this day, but will plan a trip here again to hike to the top.

We opted not to climb to the summit this day, but will plan a trip here again to hike to the top.

 There was fresh snow on the top. In the other direction we looked down to the valley floor, There is going to be a big descent today.

There was fresh snow on the top. In the other direction we looked down to the valley floor, There is going to be a big descent today.

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 Little did we know that this was going to be a very long day of hiking.

Little did we know that this was going to be a very long day of hiking.

 It started off with a gentle decline and a trail covered in pine needles.

It started off with a gentle decline and a trail covered in pine needles.

 Even a lizard was enjoying the morning.

Even a lizard was enjoying the morning.

Then the realities of the trail set in. Since this was a horse graded section, the trail made huge zig zags. Several times as we looked down the mountain and could see trails, we thought that there was no way that could be the trail we were on. It was and we spent many hours descending.

 With no shade and too windy for umbrellas, we took it step by step. We had started before the sun was up and hoped to get to the bottom before the sun set.

With no shade and too windy for umbrellas, we took it step by step. We had started before the sun was up and hoped to get to the bottom before the sun set.

An encouraging sign reminded us that we were making progress!

 There was also a bee hive near here, fortunately we were able to pass by with not getting stung. Other hikers told us of multiple stings that they had incurred. A beautiful cactus in bloom took our mind off of our tired feet and legs.

There was also a bee hive near here, fortunately we were able to pass by with not getting stung. Other hikers told us of multiple stings that they had incurred. A beautiful cactus in bloom took our mind off of our tired feet and legs.

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Just as the sun was setting, we made it to the bottom. A desert water utility has put in a water faucet for hikers. It was much appreciated. Several hikers were here, most of them had taken two days to do the descent. Not a bad idea, but we were here and it felt good to go to bed. A little later we heard voices around our tent and were greeted by Spikes and A to Z. They had left yesterday in the evening as well and were also glad to be done with that stretch of trail.

Miles hiked 22

APRIL 5

We were up by 4:30 and once again heading down the trail by flashlight. We are in the area of wind turbines and already the wind was blowing. Today we hope to spend the afternoon at the Whitewater Wilderness Preserve. We have been there several times before and even hiked parts of the PCT near there several years ago. It is quite the oasis with running water and shade trees. It will be a perfect spot to hang during the hotter parts of the day. But first we have to cross under  Interstate 10.

 A train rumbles by next to the interstate,

A train rumbles by next to the interstate,

 A datura bloom has just opened

A datura bloom has just opened

 Underneath the interstate is the I 10 Oasis. Trail magic awaits the hiker!. There is water, sodas, fresh fruit and cookies. As we are partaking of some of the fruit, a trail angel delivers some more items. There are 3 or 4 folks that make sure this area is well stocked. He has been to Alaska and it was fun talking to him about places he has been.

Underneath the interstate is the I 10 Oasis. Trail magic awaits the hiker!. There is water, sodas, fresh fruit and cookies. As we are partaking of some of the fruit, a trail angel delivers some more items. There are 3 or 4 folks that make sure this area is well stocked. He has been to Alaska and it was fun talking to him about places he has been.

Upon leaving the interstate, we shortly see this sign.

 The entire PCT is divided into section and we are formally welcomed to section C. we also get this warning.

The entire PCT is divided into section and we are formally welcomed to section C. we also get this warning.

 We will be traveling in the land of wind turbines today.

We will be traveling in the land of wind turbines today.

 It is another beautiful section of trail with a new crop of wildflowers.

It is another beautiful section of trail with a new crop of wildflowers.

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 We were pleasantly surprised by this trail. We had hiked several of the trails around the Preserve, but had never made it to this one. It was a gem!

We were pleasantly surprised by this trail. We had hiked several of the trails around the Preserve, but had never made it to this one. It was a gem!

Soon we were at the picnic area and found a nice shaded area to take a break.

 What a great way to spend an afternoon!

What a great way to spend an afternoon!

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The afternoon passed quickly and soon it was time to head back out again. We passed this rock

 and then we were back on the trail.

and then we were back on the trail.

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In less than a mile we saw A to Z and Spikes taking a break by the whitewater river. Spikes said,"glad to see you, we thought that something might have happened to you" She then explained that after we had left in the morning several police cars and a fire truck came to where we all had camped last night. They talked to three different tents and asked about an older couple who were in distress. The only older couple they knew were us and they only knew us by our trail names Peter Pan and Bigfoot.  They doubted that we were in distress since we had already left  but....When the police got the same response from all 3 tents they were heard saying. "that must be them..call the helicopter" Thankfully it was not us, we did hear later that a helicopter had rescued an older man from the mountain with kidney stones. It would have been fun to read the rescue report about a couple called Peter Pan and Bigfoot.

We were looking forward to hiking this section of trail, because we had hiked it previously when we spent time here with Don's parents. We had climbed to the top of a ridge and looked down to a valley. Later today we would get to discover where this trail went.  Today we had hiked down to the Whitewater valley, now we had to climb out of the valley over a ridge and down to Mission Creek. At the top of the ridge a tiny desert hare tried his best to blend in to the bush. It did a pretty good job.

 With the sun setting we hurried down to find a camp next to Mission creek. It is the first time since we started that we are camped close to water.

With the sun setting we hurried down to find a camp next to Mission creek. It is the first time since we started that we are camped close to water.

 Miles hiked 24

Miles hiked 24

APRIL 6

Today was going to be another big elevation gain. This has been a pattern, up and down. We start out early hoping to get some miles done before the sun gets overhead. We are in luck as the sun's rays don't hit till 10. It is a change of pace crossing mission creek several times as we walk up the valley. We even walk by some cattails.

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 The trail has been washed out in places and we temporarily lose it. We use the Gut Hooks app which tells us the trail is to the right of us. Sure enough we scamper up the creek bank and see the trail. We leap frog Spikes and A to Z, taking breaks by the water. It is nice not to have to carry excess water, but once we leave the valley we will once again need to load up. Further up the valley we are saddened by the large fire that burned thru the area several years ago. Some of the larger trees are burned all the way to to the top. The heat must have been intense.

The trail has been washed out in places and we temporarily lose it. We use the Gut Hooks app which tells us the trail is to the right of us. Sure enough we scamper up the creek bank and see the trail. We leap frog Spikes and A to Z, taking breaks by the water. It is nice not to have to carry excess water, but once we leave the valley we will once again need to load up. Further up the valley we are saddened by the large fire that burned thru the area several years ago. Some of the larger trees are burned all the way to to the top. The heat must have been intense.

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 Signs warn of falling trees and that no camping is allowed in the area. We are glad that at least we were able to walk thru here. The last water source is located near here and we stop to filter the water and fill our container.

Signs warn of falling trees and that no camping is allowed in the area. We are glad that at least we were able to walk thru here. The last water source is located near here and we stop to filter the water and fill our container.

 More elevation gain and finally we are on the ridge, The wind has picked up significantly and when we see a somewhat protected area we take it.  We secure our tent well, have dinner and crawl into bed listening to the wind whip over our tent.

More elevation gain and finally we are on the ridge, The wind has picked up significantly and when we see a somewhat protected area we take it.  We secure our tent well, have dinner and crawl into bed listening to the wind whip over our tent.

Miles hiked 17

APRIL 7

We stayed in bed a little longer than usual, in fact we even took our tent down when it was light. We wanted to make sure that all of the tent stakes had stayed in during the wind storm. All were found and we headed towards Big Bear. 

 The early morning light was spectacular as well as the fresh snow on the mountain in the distance.

The early morning light was spectacular as well as the fresh snow on the mountain in the distance.

 Since we had done all of our elevation yesterday, it seemed fitting to go down hill today.The trail weaved through forests.

Since we had done all of our elevation yesterday, it seemed fitting to go down hill today.The trail weaved through forests.

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 At one point we crossed a forest service road. Waiting for us was some trail magic. A man who had hiked the trail in 2015 had returned to bring magic to the hikers. He was handing out fruit and sodas. His plan for the summer was to head north and stop periodically to do some magic. Just beyond the road someone had brought in a water cache. We used it to top up our bottles and continued downward. The trail was mostly down and gentle on the feet. We had a good pace going and began to think that we might be in Big Bear tonight.

At one point we crossed a forest service road. Waiting for us was some trail magic. A man who had hiked the trail in 2015 had returned to bring magic to the hikers. He was handing out fruit and sodas. His plan for the summer was to head north and stop periodically to do some magic. Just beyond the road someone had brought in a water cache. We used it to top up our bottles and continued downward. The trail was mostly down and gentle on the feet. We had a good pace going and began to think that we might be in Big Bear tonight.

 We had sent our resupply box to a trail angel in Big Bear. On the way to the trailhead we noticed that they had a sign with a number saying to call and they would come pick one up. We had cell reception so we called the number, a man answered and said I will be there in 15 minutes. Sweet!  Spikes was at the roadbed waiting for her parents. They were coming to spend the weekend with her. We wished her well and took off with our ride. We were able to take showers and do laundry when we got to their house. We set up our tent in their yard and repacked our food for the next section. We made arrangements to go to the store in the morning and then get dropped off at the trail head. This was a very smooth town transition.  Milkes hiked 20

We had sent our resupply box to a trail angel in Big Bear. On the way to the trailhead we noticed that they had a sign with a number saying to call and they would come pick one up. We had cell reception so we called the number, a man answered and said I will be there in 15 minutes. Sweet!

Spikes was at the roadbed waiting for her parents. They were coming to spend the weekend with her. We wished her well and took off with our ride. We were able to take showers and do laundry when we got to their house. We set up our tent in their yard and repacked our food for the next section. We made arrangements to go to the store in the morning and then get dropped off at the trail head. This was a very smooth town transition.

Milkes hiked 20