Days 13-16: Idyllwild to Big Bear

Day 13

Sonya, Papa Oats and I stayed at the Idyllwild Inn last night. They are a hiker friendly place, offering discounts, a large hiker box (where hikers can swap unwanted food/gear), and rides to the trail. The room was super cute and the shower was scalding hot! It was really cold and there were rumors of it snowing more in the night. Thankfully, when we got up there wasn’t any snow on the ground.

At 8am we jumped into the pickup to be dropped off at the Devil’s Slide trailhead. We followed this trail for 2.5 miles to reconnect with the PCT. There was a split in the trail, where people could go to the summit of Mount San Jacinto or continue on the PCT. Many hikers climbed to the summit, Sonya and I decided to follow the PCT instead.

The scenery was beautiful; we were above the clouds and there were large boulders in between pine trees. There was so much water, little streams from the snowmelt. It was refreshing to be surrounded in this environment, giving me that small taste of home again.

We made camp at one of the large campgrounds on the other side of the mountain. The cold wind was blasting us, so we quickly made dinner and crawled into our tents by 7pm. My tent was whipping and made the already strong wind sound like a hurricane. About 8:30, the front stake ripped out of the ground, causing my tent to collapse. I quickly restakedbit, getting a small glimpse at the amazing sunset. If it wasn’t so cold, I may have got out and enjoyed it. Instead, I thought “that’s beautiful” and jumped back into my shelter.

Day 14

Get me off this f-ing mountain!

I had the worst sleep ever. The wind never let up and my tent flapped in my face the entire night. Today was about 15 miles downhill and I was ready to run as fast as I could, hoping it would be less windy at a lower elevation and off the ridge.

These were the longest switchbacks EVER! First, the wind was icy cold and ripped through you. Then, I would round the side of the mountain where the wind was blocked and I was blasted the blistering sun.

Unfortunately, the closer we got to the valley floor, the wind sped up. I would round a corner and stop mid-step as the wind pushed me back. Once I made it to the bottom, all I could do was laugh as we walked across the valley floor, pushing against the gusts.

A couple miles away from the highway, our goal for the day, there was trail magic! Coppertone, a past hiker, had his rv parked to block the wind. He had fruit, pies and made us root beer floats. He mentioned that he was moving up the trail each week, so we may see him later on.

Once we got to the highway, there was more trail magic! A cooler full of cold beers and more fruit. The trail angel Mama Bear was giving rides to In and Out and to Hillbilly’s, where hikers could stay the night. Originally, we were planning on sleeping at the underpass. However, we took the ride to Hillbilly’s to get out of the wind.

Day 15

Hillbilly was an early riser, which was great for those of us that wanted to get to the trail quickly. We piled into the back of his pickup and took off.

Today was hot! About halfway, we stopped at White Water River for lunch and soaked our feet. After this, was a tedious climb and the temperature kept rising. I was hitting a wall physically and mentally. I was so tired and grumpy and I slowly pushed myself up.

Originally, Sonya and I were going to catch up with our group to camp. We decided to camp a few miles before them, as I did my 20 for the day and called it quits. About an hour later, Papa Oats joined us. He was also not doing well. Rough day for many of us.

Day 16

Today was much easier for me and I zoomed along the trail. For our first climb of the day, I decided to listen to music, which really helped my mood.

Yesterday, we had met Protein and Jupiter, who camped a mile away from us. Today, we decided to join them for camp. They had started the trail a few days after us and had missed the snow in Mt. Laguna. Tomorrow, we planned on spending the night in Big Bear, so we coordinated with them about splitting a room or cabin.