Last update, we shared that we got caught in a wind storm while we were camping atop a mountain. We heard a snap of our tent which had us packing up at 3:30 am attempting not to lose any gear. As we packed up our bags we were so focused on holding onto our tent that we screamed in surprise and frustration as we saw Jake’s sleeping pad fly right off the mountain.
**Cooking in our vestibule, out of the wind. This was before it got up to 70mph winds.**
The climb down the mountain was so cold, my fingers numb and Jake’s mood sour. I kept envisioning mountain lions in the distance so I sang loudly to the wind to keep my spirits up. Eventually the sky started to turn that beautiful morning purple, outlining the blue mountains in the distance and any negativity dissipated with the darkness. The timing of Jake’s lost sleeping pad was perfect because we were crossing into a little town of Julian where we could buy another. When we got to the road, Border Patrol stopped to make sure we were okay because of the cold temperatures and wind advisory. It was 6 am and lucky for us it only took 15 minutes to find a kind soul who picked us and brought us to town. It was still icy cold and nothing was open yet so we wandered around and along the way we found a free sleeping pad for Jake in a ‘hiker box.’ It wasn’t the comfortable kind, but hey, it was enough to make us jump for joy. After an hour we found a special place called, ‘Carmen’s’ which is a restaurant only open to hikers on the weekdays. She lets hikers sleep on the restaurant floor and gives them awesome deals on her food.
We got the run-down of the town which is extremely hiker friendly. The pie shop gives hikers FREE pie & hot cider which was like heaven after enduring the night we had. Another shop gave us free snacks and cider, we felt like we were in a dream land. We couldn’t have asked for a better place to stumble into.
The next morning we got up early and had a hitch back to the trail by 7am. It was a steady climb up of ridge walking, making you focus on each step. As I got higher and higher I had vertigo a few times when I looked out over the edge but it was neat to see hikers miles away from you. Both Jake & I were dealing with a few minor aches and pains in our legs and feet so we took a lot of breaks, enjoying the beautiful hiking weather. We finally got to camp near water this night, which is a wonderful treat in the desert. In celebration we decided to cook a spicy soup, rice noodles, fresh jalapeños, & garlic bouillon. It had our mouths and lips on fire but I was happy to have the flavor.
We slept great that night so we decided to sleep in past our 5am alarm, eventually hitting the trail by 6:30am. While the desert is beautiful in it’s own way, day after day it can get a little monotonous. So this particular day I made sure to focus on the small things I saw and I had a fabulous time. I saw so many tiny little flower buds popping up alongside the trail. That made me think about how each year we too can rebuild ourselves into a new self, someone we are proud to be. The second half of the day was even more fantastic as we got to these lush green shrubs and TREES! We found an awesome grassy patch under a big tree and snacked on our spicy Frito chips, yummy.
I felt exhilarated the whole rest of the day as we were going through rolling meadows. By far this was the best day yet as our spirits were high and we were playing silly games & making up songs. It was some of the hottest hiking we had but the change of scenery made it all worth it. This day included a famous rock called, Eagle Rock which is self-explanatory when you look at the picture. We kept hiking until about 7pm, making it our longest day so far; 18 miles. That night we camped with some fellow hikers on a beach-like site.
The next morning we hiked into a place called, Warner Springs where a lot of hikers had camped at the community center. We planned to hike right past, but when word got around of a fundraiser Pancake Breakfast we decided to stay to fill up on carbs. After getting all that extra energy we were ready to hike on out of there and continued hiking through more beautiful greenery. We tried to befriend some cows who weren’t too fond of us getting our pictures with them.
We took a long break in the afternoon with some fellow hikers, one of which is learning to play the ukulele. We had to fill up on water because it was about a 18 mile stretch without any, but we’ve gotten used to carrying 4 liters without it feeling too terrible. After the water source, it was one of the heftier climbs we’ve encountered so far but I enjoy a steady climb up. This part of California really enjoys their switchbacks rather than straight up so the climbs are long but gentler. Out of the blue near the top of the mountain we saw a tent. For a minute I thought I was hallucinating, but no, there was a sweet lady waiting to feed and hydrate hikers. Her name is Topaz and she knew of a secret trail that she could drive to and then hiked about half a mile with avocados, oranges, & cold drinks. She had wanted to hike the PCT this year but things didn’t pan out for her, so she wanted to treat us hikers. There were two adorable dogs she brought as well, so we got a ton of love, making my heart so full.
After such a wonderful two days, the next morning I felt energized pummeling up the mountain at a speedy pace. Though my body must not have liked that very much because at about 2:30pm I started to get pains on both sides of my legs and feet. Jake & I found a sunny little spot off trail, away from the wind that hadn’t let up that day and laid in the dirt. Jake too was dealing with an Achilles pain and needed some rest and relaxation time. Once we felt a little better we hobbled down the trail, knowing we had to get a fair amount of miles because the next water source was 15 miles away. We camped after about 8 more miles and found the best camping spot ever. I have become a pro at finding perfect little nooks that can’t be seen from the trail. This night in particular was lovely because we were sheltered from the cold wind that had affected everyone else’s camp spots. This night we sat and played cards after a hearty dinner and went to bed with big smiles.
We had plenty of food during the week but as the week dwindled down we realized we had been eating more than we planned for. As we looked in our food bags the last night before town, we saw two little ramen noodle packets floating around. We scarfed them down & added some extra spices. As we were eating, we looked over and saw a little nest made up of sticks and started to feel a little uneasy about our camp spot. We already had everything set up so we got in our sleeping bags and hoped for the best. That night we were woken up by the sounds of little rodents squealing and running around in the leaves. Pack Rats. We stood guard, tapping our tent and shining our light to keep them from invading our home. Luckily these little guys didn’t come too close to our tent like the mice we have dealt with in the past, so I finally came to terms with them and fell asleep at about 2am. Needless to say after that night I was very excited to come into the little town of Idyllwild, CA!
Now, we are going to spend a night with an actual bed & bath, scrubbing the many days of dirt & grime off of us.