“Where did you park your car?”
Days 16 - 25:
We took our first zero day in Idyllwild. We love Idyllwild and would always go up there for the weekend from Burbank, so in a way it was like going home. The Idyllwild Inn did our laundry although my shirt still stinks. Kilo says I smell like a Greek Dressing. I guess that is better than smelling like sweat although it makes me never want to eat Greek food again. We did our grocery shopping for the next section and then hit the Idyllwild Brewery for burgers and beers. The next morning the Inn Keeper drove us to Black Mountain Road to begin our hike to Big Bear (we opted for the 8 mile hike up Black Mountain verses Fuller Ridge which is still full of snow with a steep drop off next to the trail). Once up Black Mountain, we started coming down the desert side of Mt Jacinto and camped with Jeff (the guy that calls us Crispy & Kilo) and Sprocket. Sprocket is apparently a legend in the thru-hiking circuit. He has hiked the Appalachian Trail 4 times. I believe this is his 3rd time hiking the PCT. He has hiked the Continental Divide Trail and the Pinhoti Trail. I said, “You’re a professional hiker!” His response, “No, I’m just a vagabond.” Sprocket will work for two months to save just enough money, quit his job and go hike again. He knows the cheapest ways to purchase the most calories; for example, the 48 pack of Pop Tarts at Walmart.
The next morning we cruised down the rest of the mountain knowing today is InNOut Day! As we started across the desert floor we ran into an 80 year old woman and her daughter looking for California Blue Bonnets. We stopped to chat with them for a bit and they casually asked, “Did you have a nice backpacking trip?” When we told them we were really only just beginning and that we had walked there from the Mexico border with the intention to walk to Canada, they both nearly fell over in shock. “YOU WALKED HERE FROM MEXICO?” “AND YOU ARE WALKING TO CANADA?” The older woman paused for a minute to process what we had just told her and then asked, “Where did you park your car?” Such an innocent question that still has us laughing. This reaction was right up there with a young man’s reaction we had met at Warner Springs. He saw us with our big packs and asked where we were going. When Kilo told him Canada, he went running to his car to tell his wife, “THEY’RE GOING TO CANADA! THEY ARE WALKING THERE!”
From there it was another 4 miles to the underpass for the Interstate 10 in Cabazon. We were literally walking through sand with 45 mph headwinds. Once we got to the underpass we encountered our first Trail Magic. Magic Blackbird and her husband had brought a 24-pack of Coors Light and a bunch of fruit. So there we were sitting under the Interstate 10 drinking Coors Light. Magic Blackbird was also kind enough to drive Kilo and I to the Cabazon InNOut for lunch. Magic Blackbird and her husband have previously hiked the PCT, the AT and were driving East to start the CDT. The kindness random strangers have shown us in just these first few weeks has been so inspiring and refreshing to believe in the good in humanity again. We Ubered back to the trail from InNOut where we then had to climb up to the Mesa Wind Farm. Those 2 hamburgers and fries I ate were amazing at the time, but now I was trying hard not to vomit all over the trail. We did not make it far before we called it a night.
The next day we entered the San Gorgonio Wilderness. It started as such a beautiful, peaceful hike, like a scene from The Sound of Music, and quickly changed to our two toughest days on trail yet. The heavy rains that this year’s SoCal winter brought washed away a large portion of the trail at Mission Creek. We spent a day and a half bushwhacking and basically hiking straight up the ice cold, snow-melt creek. Nothing says “Good Morning” like putting on wet socks and shoes at 7am only to go walk back through the creek again.
Hiker Hunger finally kicked in. I knew it when after I had eaten about 650 calories of teriyaki noodles for dinner and I was still hungry. I had to just go to sleep to stop myself from eating any of the other snacks from my food bag. As we get closer to town days, the food rationing typically begins as we start to run out. The following day while hiking all I could think about was what I was going to eat in Big Bear and what groceries I could purchase there for the next section to increase my calorie intake.
We made it into Big Bear, checked into the Vintage Lakeside Inn, showered and then treated ourselves to the Big Bear Lake Brewing Co. for lunch. After all, we have now completed 10% of the trail. Today we took our second zero so we could do laundry and grocery shop. And of course while walking down the street in Big Bear who should we see…JukeBox! She is this amazing high energy, bundle of life that pops out of nowhere. While hiking we might pass her up on the trail only to see her sitting on a log in front of us 2 hours later with no clue how she passed us. We won’t see her for days and then we walk into the coffee shop at Idyllwild and there she is.
Tomorrow morning it is back to the trail. Our next stop, the Cajon Pass McDonalds followed by Wrightwood.