April 26, 2017
Total miles: 14.3 miles (extra 1+ mile to Paradise Valley Cafe and 0.60 miles to spring)
Start: Walden water cache (mile 145.4)
End: mile 159.7
Total elevation gain/loss: 3054.1/1168.6ft
We were up bright and early with thoughts of a Paradise Valley Cafe breakfast filling our heads. Despite having 6+ miles to walk, I forewent my morning bars to make sure that I wouldn’t spoil my appetite. The miles were pretty easy and we were treated to another lovely morning.
When we hit the road we attempted to hitch for a few minutes before giving up. It was only a mile, so we figured it would be faster to just walk.
Along the way, I found someone’s inReach device (emergency beacon/gps) along the side of the road. I bet they’ll be missing that!
Paradise Valley Cafe has a great setup for hikers. Lots of shaded outdoor seating, big portions, and breakfast beers! I would have loved to try one of their burgers (the stuff of PCT legends), but they weren’t serving them for a couple more hours. A breakfast burrito it was!
The big topic of conversation at the Cafe was what people are planning on doing about the Mountain Fire closure. The Mountain Fire occurred in 2013, but caused so much damage that there is still an 11 mile section of the PCT that is closed. The PCTA hasn’t issued an “official” reroute, but there are a couple reroute options. What I honestly don’t understand is why people are skipping the 15 miles of open PCT after Paradise Valley Cafe to either hitch or road-walk into Idyllwild. I get that someone might not want to do the whole detour (which includes a bit of road walking), but why skip open PCT? I aim to have a continuous set of footsteps from Mexico to Canada and to walk all open sections of the PCT, so this is a no-brainer for me: we’re walking the open trail section and the reroute (Guthooks version). Others apparently disagree and it looks like we’ll see far fewer people over the next couple of days.
Much to our surprise, we were able to catch a hitch back to the trailhead! I know it may seem contradictory with my prior rant, but I’m more than willing to avoid non-PCT miles that aren’t necessary to connect my footsteps.
The next few miles (which most people are seeming to skip this year) were amazing. We walked through huge boulder fields and were treated to expansive views. It felt like Mother Nature was trying to reward us ;).
We ran into the two Frenchmen who we haven’t seen since Julian. Someone else is walking this section too! Of course, it couldn’t all be easy sailing through this section and most of the water in this section is off trail.
We climbed down a steep section of trail (losing all of the altitude we’d just worked so hard to gain) to get water from a piped spring. Interestingly, there was a video camera in one of the nearby logs with a sigh saying that it was trying to record foxes and raccoons. Sadly for the researchers, I expect that much of their footage is of dirty PCT hikers filling up on water. On the bright side, the water didn’t taste like sulphur (as our water report indicated it might)!
We stopped hiking early today. This has two motivations. First, the wind today was strong and constant and we were lucky enough to find what appears to be a sheltered spot. Second, we pre-booked a hotel room in Idyllwild for Friday night and at our current pace we’re set to arrive Thursday (we booked a couple weeks ago, so we had no idea). There’s no point getting to Idyllwild early, so a couple shorter days are in order. Our bodies will thank us I’m sure.
Our early stop gave us plenty of time to enjoy dinner (we skipped lunch because we were still so full) before it got dark. It’s amazing how cold it’s been getting as soon as the sun goes down!
Elizabeth: a couple lingering blisters; inner thigh chafing
Michael: 1 old blister; misc. muscle tightness