Day 16: 256.2-266

Today we were heading in to Big Bear Lake as usual we set our alarms to 0430 and started hiking at 0515.

The night had been quite cold and I should probably had set my bivy up. The cold was nothing worrying but enough to be annoying. The night had been really cold before going to bed so I should have expected the cold night.

 Early morning hiking to make it to Big Bear.
Early morning hiking to make it to Big Bear.

Getting started in the morning was chilly as well but not too bad once we got started. We had read that there was a shuttle to Big Bear Hostel at 0800 and wanted to get that shuttle. Sadly the shuttle no longer ran and we had to get a hitch.

We quickly got a hitch on a pickup truck that could fit all 5 of us. The driver took us all the way to the hostel and did not accept any cash for gas. Such amazing generosity.

 Brandon picked up some balloons on the way. 
Brandon picked up some balloons on the way. 

We were in town early around 0900 and got a Hiker special breakfast at Teddy’s. The breakfast was the first time I tasted biscuits and gravy and I was not impressed. Besides that the breakfast was really good.

After starting laundry we went to get resupply and add compensation for least stretch I got way too much food this time, better than not having enough I guess.

After collecting our clothes and sorting our resupply we went for a combined lunch and dinner at a Mexican place. I got a Burrito California which was amazing.

We made a quick visit to the sports store where I replaced my headphones.

After this we relaxed the rest of the evening.

Day 15: 231.08-256.2

Again I woke up at 0430 and broke down camp this start hiking at 0500, we got going at 0530.

Today we had to make it past a fire closure where camping is not allowed at the same time we wanted to be sure we make it to Big Bear tomorrow as we have basically run out of food.

 Hiking in the early day sun.
Hiking in the early day sun.

The day started with some steep climbing but the grade gradually got easier and the was primarily easy. The trail did have some interesting obstacles in the form of fallen trees.

We stopped at the first water source for breakfast which ended up taking more than an hour. We also filled with water for an 18 dry miles.

 Looking out over the surprisingly green desert.
Looking out over the surprisingly green desert.

The easy climbing continued and it was smooth going until stopped for lunch at 1200 at a camp area.

Our lunch break late for about 3 hours which was a bit long for me. Especially considering it never became very hot.

 Zoo with exotic animals that is closing.
Zoo with exotic animals that is closing.

From lunch to the camp site we only had about 10 miles and arrived at around 1800. We ate dinner and it quickly became cold so everyone retreated to their sleeping bags.

Day 14: 205.7-231.08

Today was one of my earliest days on trail as we had decided to get up at 0430 and start hiking at 0500. I slept rather well during the night and was asleep when my alarm sounded, I was packed up and ready to go a few minutes after 5. We were all ready to go around 0510.

The day started with a boring road walk made better by the fact that we did it in the dark. After the road walk with entered a flat desert stretch. This stretch had a lot of sand and other loose ground which made for slow progress.

 Trail Magic below the I-10. 
Trail Magic below the I-10. 

As we passed under I-10 we to or delight discovered that there was trail magic left there. We each grabbed some cookies and candy, as we were about to leave one of the trail angels who maintain the cache appeared and we thanked her. The I-10 underpass is one of the lowest points of the PCT at 1342 ft which is still higher than a pint of my home country Denmark.

We continued onwards towards Mesa Wind Farm where we had breakfast. The workers at the farm are super friendly and one rolled up to tell us about water and WiFi at the office.

 Looking back towards Mt San Jacinto. 
Looking back towards Mt San Jacinto. 

At about 1045 we reached Whitewater Preserve where we wanted to stop. It was a bit early for a long lunch break but the place was so nice that we had our lunch break there. We soaked ourselves and our clothes in the wading pool and relaxed in the sun.

From the preserve we followed Whitewater River for a bit before crossing over a few ridges Mission Creek which the trail follows for a while.

On our way up the creek we passed a few other hikers before making camp right next to the trail and the creek.

 Awesome unlisted campsite right next to the trail.
Awesome unlisted campsite right next to the trail.

In about an hour after our arrival it was dark just add we finished our dinner and we retreated to our sleeping arrangements.

Day 13: 181.2-205.7

The night in the shelter was comfortable with regards to temperature but the crowded shelter was like a orchestra of people snoring. The snoring and my uncomfortable sleeping pad caused me to wake up multiple times during the night. Sadly I also had to leave the comfort of the shelter to go pee, the wind and cold made this a less than enjoyable experience.

 Sunrise in the morning coming down from Mt San Jacinto.
Sunrise in the morning coming down from Mt San Jacinto.

We had decided to start late as the next day was supposed to be cold. Boy was it ever cold. After we started hiking around 0700 I was wearing the most clothes so far: beanie, shirt, rain jacket, shorts, base layer pants, rain skirt, gloves, waterproof mittens, socks and shoes. With these clothes only my hands were cold which is a common problem for me.

 Hiking in the cold with most of my clothes on.
Hiking in the cold with most of my clothes on.

We hiked back to the PCT and quickly reached the first water source where the freezing water made resupplying with water a miserable experience.

The days plan was to reach the next water source in the flat desert down from the mountains at 1729 ft. Quite a lot of elevation loss is from the 10824 of San Jacinto Peak.

The day stayed cold but we found a windsheltered and sunexposed spot that was perfect to have breakfast. The beginning of the day had a bit of uphill mixed in with the downhill but later it was pure downhill on a very sunexposed stretch. We find a small spot with shade for lunch but otherwise we only really stopped for the 200 miles marker.

 At the 200 miles marker.
At the 200 miles marker.

When we reached the next water source it was still quite windy and we all struggled in setting up camp.

 Windy campsite after the descent from Mt San Jacinto.
Windy campsite after the descent from Mt San Jacinto.

During and after dinner we discussed tomorrow’s plan and agreed to get an early start at 0500.

Day 12: 168.6-181.2

Last night was the last night in Idyllwild and I was stoked to get back on trail. I will be hiking for the next bit with Brandon and Myriam who I stayed at Scout and Frodos with. We decided to get started early at 0500. We had a really short day planned where we wanted to stay in the San Jacinto Summit Shelter.

We basically did the same hike I did on my day hike where we went up the South Ridge Trail. To Tahquitz Peak before connecting to the PCT.

We made really good time and were at Tahquitz Peak at around 0800. Unfortunately the area around the Fire Lookout was closed so we could not go there. It seemed like they were doing maintenance on the Lookout, probably to get it ready for the fire season.

We had a quick breakfast near Tahquitz Peak which for me consisted of instant oatmeal and some trail mix.

 Brandon braving the snow on the way to Mt San Jacinto.
Brandon braving the snow on the way to Mt San Jacinto.

The hiking was really good all day as the sun never got too hot, so we made really good time to the peak. We arrived at the shelter around 1100 and had lunch in the cold shelter. Later we realized it was much warmer outside.

After lunch we went to the peak and took loads of pictures while enjoying the views.

 Looking down at the flat desert.
Looking down at the flat desert.

Afterwards we mostly relaxed at the shelter. While there we spoke with some day hikers who could not believe what we were doing. At the shelter more and more hikers piled in and around dinner 8 hikers had arrived to stay the night.

It was extremely cold in the shelter as it was very windy with another storm moving in.

 The entrance  to the cozy shelter.
The entrance  to the cozy shelter.

At around 1930 another hiker arrived to make a total of 9 hikers in a shelter with 4 bunk.

Day 11: Zero in Idyllwild

Today was my first zero hiking day and second zero PCT day. I spent the day going around Idyllwild with Brandon and Myriam while consuming town food.

I did a bit more resupply to make up for what I spent on yesterday’s day hike but otherwise I was pretty much already ready to go.

 Brandon relaxing in Idyllwild.
Brandon relaxing in Idyllwild.

We also spent some time browsing the outfitter and Myriam replaced her backpack to lower her base weight. Besides this gaiters were purchased so everyone now hikes with gaiters.

For dinner we went to a Mexican place for 1 dollar tacos, the tacos were not very big so we had 8 tacos each.

Day 10: 168.6 Day hike and letting people catch up

For a few days some friends that I started with have been a day or so behind me and been doing the same mileage. So today I if possible wanted to link up with them and continue from Idyllwild together.

That left me with two potential plans. One was to hike on if they did not arrive and the other to do a day hike and then go back down to Idyllwild to meet up with them.

So in the morning I checked out and started a hike towards San Jacinto Peak via South Ridge Trail. Getting to the trailhead of the trail was tough going but once on the trail it was well graded and good going to Tahquitz Peak. From here you head to a junction with the PCT and continue towards San Jacinto.

 First snow. 
First snow. 

On the way I was waiting for word on whether they arrived or not. Once I had received word I finalized my plans for returning to Idyllwild where I would be zeroing the next day.

I made it to the peak around 1500 after about a total of 5400 ft of climbing from Idyllwild. I stayed a bit for pictures and the views before I had to head down to beat the dark.

I took the Devils Slide Trail down and were back in town around 1900. So a day with zero PCT miles that I will not have to redo but plenty of miles and elevation regardless.

 On top of San Jacinto.
On top of San Jacinto.

Day 9: 168.6 Arrival in Idyllwild and first nero

I did not have a long distance to hike to get to Idyllwild so I did not get up until after 0600. I packed up quite quickly and got going.

It was very cold during the morning and I did not have gloves on as I needed to use my phone for detour directions.

 Sun slowly creeping over the detour trail.
Sun slowly creeping over the detour trail.

The detour was not that hard to follow and actually quite nice. On the way I met Avocado a guy from Germany that I have met a couple of times the last few days. We hiked in to Idyllwild together where he headed for the campground and I for Idyllwild Inn.

Once I had reserved a room at the inn I dried out my tarp. Afterwards I went to the outfitter to look for a replacement sleeping pad. Sadly they did not have the NeoAir XLite in the Short which is the one I want.

 Low lying clouds in the distance.
Low lying clouds in the distance.

After this I resupplied with food for the next stretch. I still had a bit of food leftover from the last stretch, I still have not really figured out this food resupply. The problem is I am not that hungry so I almost have to force myself to eat.

When I got my room I had a good long shower which resulted in some very dirty water. I then used the laundry service at the inn for the first real laundry of my clothes.

After laundry was done I headed out for dinner and spotted Bacon Bits. We went for Pizza together and spoke about our plans for the coming days.

After dinner I went back to my room to relax and watch movies in bed.

Day 8: 155.90-168.6

Before going to bed I had already decided I wanted to get a late start. So in the morning I decided to sleep in and waited until 0615 before I started breaking down camp. While breaking down camp I decided to stay showing my breakfast consisting of instant oatmeal. The breakfast went on the outside of my pack to be eaten at the water really of the day.

Right from the beginning the day was marked by a lot of uphill until I found the turn of to Live Oak Spring where I wanted to get water. The water source was approximately 1 mile of trail and 450 ft downhill, 450 ft I had to climb again after getting water.

 It was quite clouded today but the views were still great.
It was quite clouded today but the views were still great.

Back on the trail I continued onwards a meet a couple that had started the PCT at mile 152 due to not getting a permit. They complained about the weight of their packs and we talked a bit about how they could lower the pack weight.

 The trail provides since obstacles to overcome.
The trail provides since obstacles to overcome.

The goal for today was to reach the fire closure that starts at Spitler Peak trail junction, from there I wanted to take the detour and find some place to camp before Idyllwild. I reached the junction quite late and had some some lunch down the detour. Lunch consisted of tortillas with salmon and two with peanut butter.

While I was having lunch something happened which has not happened before on my hike, it rained. Granted it was the lightest of drizzles but still.

 Hiking in the clouds as I was hit with the trails first raindrops.
Hiking in the clouds as I was hit with the trails first raindrops.

After reaching Spitler Peak trailhead I to my horror discovered that I would have to roadwalk. Having to roadwalk is one of the worst things that can happen to a thru-hiker.

 Roadwalking is no fun.
Roadwalking is no fun.

Near the end of the road I set up camp near a primitive campsite. For the first time on trail I decided to put up my tarp as the forecast showed a possibility of rain and continuation of strong winds.

Tomorrow I will hike to Idyllwild where I plan to stay at least 2 nights.

Day 7: 131.5-155.90 Paradise Valley Cafe

As usual I woke up a few times during the night, despite this I decided to sleep in till around 0600 where I started breaking camp. I went quite slow as I was in no particular hurry today.

 As usual I get plenty of beautiful sunrises.
As usual I get plenty of beautiful sunrises.

My plans for the day were to eat a meal at Paradise Valley Cafe and then camp further up the trail. The Cafe is located about a mile of trail mile 151.9 so about 20 miles from my starting location.

Due to my late start it was already very light as I started hiking and with the incoming storm quite windy. The wind made for really nice hiking where I did not sweat too much.

 A common sight on the PCT, the trail descends in to a valley before ascending right out the other side.
A common sight on the PCT, the trail descends in to a valley before ascending right out the other side.

I passed a few water sources and once again realized that I was carrying way too much water. I plan to carry less and use more water sources instead of big carries from a few sources.

Upon the way to my water source of choice I soaked my instant oatmeal and had breakfast. My water source of choice was a well supplied water cache. I chose this as there were several other possible water sources nearby so I took only the necessary amount. At the water cache I had a short break.

After the break I continued more or less uninterrupted to Paradise Valley Cafe. At the cafe I happily walked the 1.4 mile roundtrip for my burger.

Well fed and back on the trail I pushed on to a nice looking campsite at 155.9. It is possible to scout ahead for campsites using Guthooks and/or Hikerbot, both are did with a ton of info on the trail like campsites, water sources and detours.

The campsite is nice and sheltered which is good since it is quite windy. So far it looks like two other hikers will be camping here tonight.

 Very nice campsite sheltered amongst some trees.
Very nice campsite sheltered amongst some trees.