Today was fantastic. I slept horribly last night (I still haven’t figured out how to get a good night’s sleep in a tent, so I’m always a little sleep deprived out here) but I woke up feeling good and my legs and lungs were ready to climb the rest of the way from Little Round Meadow campground to the top of Mt. San Jacinto. This detour off of the PCT was worth it. The morning was clear and the views stretched for miles.
We made our way down the mountain, rejoined the PCT and headed down Fuller’s Ridge. We had heard a lot about snow covering the trail most of the way and that it would be difficult to do without microspikes, but the stretches of snow that we encountered were not a problem and we were able to pick our way down without using them.
As 5 pm rolled around and we reached the campsite for the evening, clouds started rolling over the ridge toward us and the wind became very insistent. I had my first-ever opportunity to set up a tent in a wind tunnel and it didn’t collapse on me, so I guess I did ok!
“People get to this place many different ways. You don’t always want to follow someone else’s footsteps.” ~ Hiker I met as he was coming down from San Jacinto
Today we took the Deer Springs trail out of Idyllwild up to the PCT, followed the PCT trail for a couple miles, then turned onto the San Jacinto Peak trail and hiked until we camped at the Little Round Valley campground at about 9700 feet. It was a tough uphill climb for me today. My legs felt heavy, my pack felt heavy, gravity felt heavy. All I wanted was to walk on something flat.
It wasn’t as difficult for me as it was for Sage, however. As we hiked higher, more and more snow covered the trail. Sage did not have microspikes, his one hiking pole broke, and the tread on his boots were so worn they were shiny. We tried to help by kicking steps into the snow, but he slipped all over. As they say out here, though, the trail provides. We found one discarded YakTrak on the trail – it wasn’t much help, but better than nothing – and shortly thereafter found an abandoned hiking pole for him to use. A few minutes later we ran into a guy wearing the other YakTrak and Katie convinced him to let us have it so Sage would have the pair. It’s funny how things fall into place when we need them to.
We finally made it to the campground and I tried to eat two days worth of food for dinner so my pack would lighten up a bit, but I barely made a dent. Hiker hunger hasn’t hit yet, and I’m working on not packing six days of food for three day stretches, but for now the struggle continues.
After dinner I snuggled up in my quilt with my water filter so neither I nor it would freeze. Tomorrow, the plan is to go up to the top of San Jacinto early tomorrow morning, then rejoin the PCT for the descent down Fuller’s Ridge.
A mile past our campsite this morning we came across the Walden cache, a neat stop with a little free library and cutouts of Henry David Thoreau and Walt Whitman. Apparently the trail angel, Mary, doesn’t like to be bothered by hikers but does keep the cache stocked and maintains a register in which she asks hikers to name a book that inspired them and why.
From there we hiked to Highway 74, where I met the only other person I’ve seen so far with peanut shoe tread, my peanut sister Tanya from Canada.
We tried to hitch a ride to Paradise Valley Cafe, a mile to the West. No luck there, so we hoofed it. The patio at the cafe was filled with other dirty, hungry hikers that we had met before, and it was fun to catch up with them.
After we ate, we attempted another hitch for the 17 miles into the town of Idyllwild. Success this time! Within a couple minutes, the owner of the local paper, The Town Crier, picked us up and told us all about Idyllwild and what to do there. We felt lucky to have such a knowledgeable driver. She dropped us off in town and we headed to the campground to find a place to sleep, shower, eat and do laundry. I picked up my ice axe and extra clothes at the post office and we wandered around town for the rest of the day.