Monday, May 9, 2011

May 8, 2011

Start mile: ~155
End mile: 178.9

Today started much the same as any other. Wiz, Kylie, and I got up and on the trail by 6:30, with a hearty breakfast of pop tarts, trail mix, and energy bars. About 2 miles up the trail Wiz and I came to a switchback, that turned to the right, or a gate in front of us that led fairly straight ahead. I was following behind Wiz at this point as he turned right, up the switchback. I thought to myself that the trail was going the wrong direction, but the swiftness with which the decision was made led me to believe that I was mistaken. After about 30 minutes down what we thought was the trail, we stopped and looked at the ground where there were no other footprints or trekking pole marks. We consulted the maps, realized we had just gone 1.5 miles the wrong way, and turned around to get back on track. We would later find out that Kylie, who had stopped to take a picture, saw us going the wrong direction and tried to whistle to get our attention to no avail. Unfortunately for her, she had just put some horse analgesic gel on her sore achilles and still had the remnants on her fingers, so when she used two fingers to whistle she inadvertently numbed up her mouth for the next 30 minutes! To make things even worse, she then tried to call people who had our numbers and left somewhat slurred messages for them. Eventually we did catch back up to Kylie, which was a relief for both her and us.

I should also mention that in addition to adding 3 miles to our day, the weather played quite a factor leading to utter exhaustion as well. As we were just packing up camp at 6:15, Mudflap walked by, made a comment on weather coming in based on the clouds in the valley below where we camped. I thought to myself, it didn't look that bad, but my tune soon changed. About the time we had our little detour, we started to climb up into a more exposed area and experience some fairly good wind. As we climbed higher up the ridge we went through areas where the wind was stronger, and it would knock you to the side a half step when a gust hit you. The weather didn't really turn on us until we were a few miles into the San Jacinto Wilderness. At that point, the trail got much steeper as we climbed above 8000' and the weather more intense. At certain points walking through the clouds it was hard to tell if I was getting wet from a light rain or just the misty air itself, although I think it was a bit of both.

Sometimes the weather would clear a bit and we were able to take a break at Apache Springs to enjoy some lunch and about an hour nap. The clouds that had been thin and wispy when we closed out eyes were now much thicker and blotting out the warmth of the sun, and the wind had picked up. We donned our rain shells and headed out again up the trail and into the elements.

After the break it was a long slow climb, with demoralizing wetness and wind, along with a few patches of snow to slog through, and to top it off we had to walk 2.5 miles down Devils Slide Trail to a trailhead, then another 2 down the road into town in the dark. It was quite a miserable experience, but we did end up getting a ride from a local guy the last 0.5 miles into town. He dripped us off at the pizza place at 8:30pm... It closed at 8:00 on Sundays. So we slung our wet packs over our shoulders and walked to the Idyllwild Inn in the rain to find a room. Lucky for us they had one room left which we took. Once in the room we cranked up the heat and started a fire in the fireplace. Since nothing was open, we resorted to eating leftover food from our food bags, which actually turned out quite nice.

So after 30 miles of walking (not all on the PCT), I am taking a Zero day tomorrow to recuperate and wait for improved weather to go over Fuller Ridge. Sleep, food, and warmth are good things.

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  1. I'm really enjoying your stories Alex. I've reminded everyone on the GP to continue to track your trek. Sounds exciting!!
    So, what's your trail nickname?
    Katie K.

  2. No trail name yet. Apparently I haven't done anything deserving to this point. Good to hear people are following!