Day 10: Walking the Mountain Fire Alternate 

April 27, 2017

Total miles: 16.5 miles (6.9 miles on PCT, 9.6 miles on alternate)

Start: mile 159.7

End: Hurley Creek Park (on alternate)

Total elevation gain/loss: 1635.5/3532.8ft

The wind roared last night, but our tent spot ended up being almost perfectly protected. I’ll take a win where I can get one. We were up at our typical 5:30am this morning and ready to finish out the open section of the PCT and begin hiking the alternate.  


Once again, we knew that we’d be ending early today since we don’t want to be in Idyllwild until tomorrow. The real prize was that about 1/2 mile before our intended camping spot was a market. With cold beer. And toilets. Pretty much the perfect motivator for us these days.


We started our walk along the ridge line. As we passed over the saddles, the fierce wind whipped us this way and that. I’m so grateful for our protected spot last night!


After a few miles we passed through a forested area. Trees! It’s been so long! 

I actually lost sight of the trail at one point this morning. I was going down switchbacks and apparently I missed one and kept walking. I was quickly back on trail but felt silly — this is supposed to be an easy trail to follow! Michael apparently had no such problems.


We turned left at the trail closure and headed down the Fobes Ranch Trail. The trail switch backed down the hill until it hit water (yay!) and a parking lot. From there it was a dirt road walk until we hit the highway.

Pumping water

Our first Poodle Dog Bush encounter. The plant is related to poison oak and can leave a nasty rash.

Easy walking.


Luckily for us, we were able to take a side trail and avoid most of the highway walking. We only had to walk along the highway for the last 1.6 miles or so!  


We got to the market by 1pm — not bad for 16 miles, but I guess that’s what the allure of a beer (and bathroom) will do! We enjoyed a cold beer with our tuna burrito lunches (trail food). But first, an ice cream! A girl has to have priorities.

From the market it was a short 1/2 mile walk to the Hurkey Creek Campground. We’d heard that PCTers might be able to camp for free. Nope. We could have joined a group of 5, but instead opted for our own site nearby with the thought that others could join us and split the cost. Michael even got to take a shower (he’s worried about possible poison oak)! I just took a bandana bath — I get to shower tomorrow after all!


We spent the evening hanging out with Tinman, Captain Bubbles, Martin, Caley, and others. Apparently most people here road walked from Paradise Valley Cafe instead of walking the open PCT section and alternate. I still don’t get it, but whatever. More joined later as we headed to bed (so while we ended up sharing our site, we didn’t get to share the cost, oh well).

I’m looking forward to a short hiking day tomorrow into Idyllwild!! It will be our first night in a hotel and real shower since getting on trail.  

Current ailments:

Elizabeth: a couple lingering blisters; inner thigh chafing

Michael: 1 old blister; potential poison oak (or heat rash)

2 thoughts on “Day 10: Walking the Mountain Fire Alternate 

  1. Hey! I’m starting the PCT this Thursday. What was the alternate you took to save highway walking? Did you go all the way down Fobes to 74? Hike on!

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    • We followed the alternate on the Guthook app (not sure if this deviated from the Halfmile alternate). We took Fobes down the hill, then a dirt road to 74. When we got to the highway, we crossed over to a trail on the other side. This trail backtracks for a few minutes, then connects with a dirt service road that parallels the highway (under the powerlines). We still had about 1.6 miles of highway walking, but there weren’t very many cars and typically a wide shoulder. Not always the most scenic hiking, but easy and gave me an excuse to listen to an audiobook. I hope that you enjoy your hike. Best of luck!

      Liked by 1 person

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