Started: 07:00 @ MM 149.0
Finished: 18:35 @ MM 172.0 – Estimated position, off trail due to fire closure.
Water: Drank 4L plus gallons of coffee at Paradise Valley Cafe.
Food: Santa Fe 3 Egg Omlete, Hash Browns & Toast. Pasta, veggies & Spam. Almond Joy and Trail Mix.
Health: 0 Blisters but feet in agony due to general over use and knees starting to come out in sympathy with feet!
The day started out with such promise. It was a chilly start but we made good time and reached the legendary Paradise Valley Cafe by just after 8am. The next 2 hours were pretty much an orgy of breakfast food, Internet (first phone service for 2 days) and thru-hiker socializing … It was the place to be and be seen in the hiker community!
Post Paradise Valley there was a big decision to be made … Hike or hitch! The next section of trail was all screwed up because of a fire closure. There was a work around but it involved a long and inevitably painful road walk. The majority of hikers were taking the easier option of hitching directly to Idyllwild and skipping a 10 mile section of the trail that could be walked up to the closure point. For this to truly be a thru-hike I needed to hike every “open” mile. Chance felt the same way and so off we went.
On a full stomach we marched uphill for 10 miles! Thankfully it wasn’t as hot as the previous day and there were plenty of shaded areas. The trail was stunning and I felt well rewarded for my efforts. From the very top, were the fire closure began, we could see all the way out to Palm Springs and Joshua Tree National Park. Then came the downhill!
A series of steep and rugged switchbacks eventually gave way to a steep rocky trail that became a dirt road and eventually a sealed road. I was still trying to decide which I preferred, the up or the down. My knees were definitely not so keen on the downs. At one stage, I squatted down to pee and my knees simply would not lift me and my pack back into the standing position. With my shorts around my ankles, I was forced to roll to one side and come at it from the doggy position … Very dignified … very Hollywood, I thought to myself!
The road walk was a ball-ache (or what I imagined a ball-ache to be) … in short, a profoundly unpleasant experience. I was about 4 miles into it, with another 3 to go and quickly losing the will to live, when an Angel appeared! Carl, the awesome dude from the day before rode, like a knight in shining armor, to my rescue. I didn’t hesitate to accept his offer for a ride. Chance, the mad fucker, insisted on walking!
Right now, everything hurts sooooo much and I am so totally exhausted that I can’t stay awake a minute longer or type another word. Tomorrow Idyllwild and a much deserved Nero!