Day 16 Miles 201.2 to 213.4 March 29, 2017

We woke up to a really pleasant morning. Not cool at all, but naturally that just means it’s going to be warm early. My calves were sore this morning and Rob had his ills also, but once we got going everything loosened up. It was a hot one! We both ran out of water 2 miles before we made it to the next water location. Then we ran into the volunteer forest rangers who frisked us for our PCT permits. Naturally, I had them in the very bottom of my pack so while I’m parched and can feel an unpleasant new blister on my big toe, I have to pull everything out of my bag to get to these darn permits. This is the only time I can think of in 2 weeks that I was genuinely annoyed. After 8 miles this morning, we reached the freeway and hitched a ride 5 miles to an In and Out burger. Sometimes it’s the people you would never expect to stop to give you a ride that do. An older Chinese lady who only spoke enough English to say she is Chinese and doesn’t speak English took us to our location. The burgers were fantastic! And I probably ate mine in 90 seconds. I considered a second. On the time their I told Rob when we got to In and Out I was going to wash my hands, face and brush my teeth and that I would look like a homeless person. He said, “Baby, you are homeless.” Touché. We got another hitch back to the trail after buying some more food for our packs and started what became a very very hot walk. We stopped after 2 miles and found a sliver of shade where I fell asleep. The sun was taking everything out of me. An hour later we walked the 2 miles further where we camped in the

windmill farm we saw yesterday as we came down the mountain. Early night since we think we may get up real early to beat the heat tomorrow.

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I should have had 2!

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Meet back up with Castiron

Day 14 Zero Day In Idyllwild

We decided to take a day off trail today since we weren’t really sure where we want to get back on trail as of last night. Actually, as I’m writing this at 9pm we are still not sure. There’s a bunch of snow and ice on the trail in the San Jacinto mountains for the next 15ish miles so we checked out alternate  routes. We are going to sleep on our options and make a game time decision mañana.

As for today, we had a good opportunity to go through our bounce box to take what we needed, got some more band aids for blisters, inspected and repackaged our gear and best of all we hooked back up with our trail family. Tasha and B got in last night after doing an insane 29 mile day!! Way to go chicas. Then Mellow got into town today. B ran into him in town. We also reunited with two brothers we saw at Mike’s house (not the German brothers. These guys are from S Cali). We are all staying together in a big house practically across the street from where Rob and I stayed last night. It’s nice to be back with the family and get to know everyone else more. I gave Tasha her trail name tonight – Canary – because she always has a song running through her head and sings on the trail. Heading for snow one way or another tomorrow. Stay warm for us wherever you are 😊

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The ranger station does not miss an opportunity to promote safety first 

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Our little Idyllwild Inn cabin 

Days 8 – 13 Miles 68.3 to 151

 A brief letter from the editor 😉

When we started this blog we weren’t exactly sure how often we would update it or what we would share, but it has turned into our online diary. Rob and I have so many experiences every day that we want to remember and since I ditched my paper journal  to save on weight this has become the new diary of record.  We are sharing a lot so however much of this journey you choose to follow along on, we love having you with us.   Mentally, we are both feeling better than we could have imagined.    It was a very easy transition for us to adjust to a trail lifestyle. Maybe because we did some preliminary backpacking trips or just the year before we left was filled with various difficulties, in the words of Rob  last night, “I am sold. We are never going back.”  We are enamored with the trail – it’s gorgeous vistas, sounds, smells of sage and wildflower and oh, the community. If only the way people treated each other on the trail could be duplicated outside the trail, the world would be a nicer place.  This experience restores your faith in humanity and proves that kindness exists and it’s not hard to find. A trip like this has the potential to be trying on a marriage, but we have managed and grown stronger.  We work really well as a team. We start each day with a morning kiss and have developed little roles within our camping and hiking life.  We are still 2 best friends on a grand adventure.  I know this blog post will be long as we have 6 days to catch up on so pour a glass of wine or a cup of coffee and pretend we are sitting together just catching up.

Day 8

(Lacy)

68.5-79 +2
We started our morning waking up with all four of us in the hotel room and it worked out great. I took another shower for good measure and went to the lobby to grab a little breakfast. On my way out I had a really nice conversation with a gentleman named Darryl. His hiking group was taking up nearly all the rooms in the hotel and he was in a great mood. He is a member of the high pointers club, which I had never heard of. He has climbed the highest elevation in every single state. He is a little past his physical prime (probably about 70) but loved meeting a thru hiker and chatting. Just another great conversation to add to the list. We all managed to fit in 1 car in the ride we hitched from Mark n Diane. They passed us on the road and turned back around which was much appreciated! We took them up a very bumpy Rodriguez road so we could get back to the exact place we got off trail. We could all feel the tension grow as the dirt road became a Jeep road that they were kind enough to take us on in their suburban. We still needed to do an additional 2 miles uphill to get to the trail. Nothing like an uphill for bonus miles….Our hike today began a 30+ mile stretch without any natural water sources. This is typically one of the most difficult parts of the desert because of the exposure on the trail to heat and lack of water options. We were pretty fortunate today though because it was overcast as the sky ominously foretold of a storm coming in. We had a breeze and a really unexpected pleasant day as we took in some amazing blooms in the desert. It was a GORGEOUS morning to hike. We even stopped and did a midday desert photo shoot!!

We made it to Scissors Crossing in the afternoon where an organization of trail angels in that town that set up a massive water cache under the bridge. There were 2 water troughs full of bottled water to fill up our reservoirs with as well as trash and recycling bins. As soon as we got there someone popped up from around the corner with cold Heinekens for us. It was just getting better! We met Gail under the bridge as we filled our water and drank our beer.

She did the PCT 10 years ago and said she was back for a couple days to reconnect with the trail. We were all surprised to hear her say that a friend of hers who also did the trail felt he was ostracized by the current hikers and that the current trail community isn’t as tight. Of course we don’t have anything to compare it to, but we told her our positive experiences with the trail community and how we formed our little “family”. From there we hiked 3 miles straight up through desert switchbacks, but oh my gosh were they BEAUTIFUL. We had finally hit a little spot of super bloom up in the San Felipe foothills.

There were so many different kinds. And so many micro flowers. More than we had ever seen. Really special. Since it looked like a storm was coming in we called it a day and camped in a mini canyon wash. We joked that it had 3 apartments and Boston had the penthouse.

 

 

Night 9 below: This photo does not do justice to the view out of our tent

Really though it felt like we were camping in a botanical garden. One of my favorite moments of this entire trip so far was watching the storm roll over the ridge of the mountain. I stayed out there with Tasha and then by myself just watching the clouds roll by and inspecting all the flowers. Made for a special moment.

Day 9

(Lacy)
79-94.4
We walked right through the super bloom all morning tipped off by an awesome rainbow!

So many flowers we had to ford through sometimes. I took 100 pics. We had another great breezy day. So breezy that we really relied on our hiking piles to keep us on the mountain and not let the wind fling us off!! Mine and Rob’s hat flew off several times but thankfully we managed to catch it. I came around the mountain at one point and heard Tasha and Boston singing to me as I arrived 😊They were sitting with Rob and taking a break. Tasha told me she has been watching how I walk since I am the only one out of the four of us that hasn’t had ankle, leg or knee pain. Blisters I certainly have. I have named the two on both of my big toes Simon and Garfunkel. We made it to another water cache at 3rd gate where again the unbelievable generosity of the community provided water to thru hikers. These caches make a huge difference in your hike.

Not having to carry an extra 5 or so pounds of water allows you to move faster and enjoy your hike more. We knew that these were reliable caches so we carried lighter loads. We camped again with Boston and Tasha. We ran into Mellow as we were leaving the cache and he camped with us too on a bluff. We all enjoyed watching the sunset and eating dinner. We might be getting a little spoiled with amazing sunsets and stars every day.  For Rob, the attack of the little toe blister n tendinitis has become a little distracting, but he is handling it well.

Day 10

(Rob)
94.4-110
Woke up in a strong wind / rain storm. What do you get for sleeping on an unprotected bluff with big clouds on the horizon?  Another rainbow to start the day!  Lace realized 20 minutes into the hike that part of her chest strap was missing and literally ran 2 miles back and forth on the trial to find. She did, but those extra 2 miles had her feet hurting by the end of the day. The morning section of our hike was great.   We passed the 100mi marker!  Cheers all around.  Rested at Barrel springs which ended the 30+ mile stretch with no natural water sources. Rested again at San Isadero Creek. Walked through huge high meadows of tiny flowers for the arrival at Warner Springs. The last 2 miles of a 15 mile stretch were killer because we knew the little town of Warner Springs was at the end of the stream we were following now. We hitched a ride one mile up to the one restaurant in town and met Gail again at the WS grill for dinner. Had a great Blue Cheese Cob Salad n a Meat Lovers Pizza while enjoying more conversation with Tasha, Boston, Gail and Chris (another thru hiker we met that day).  I think our little hiker family and community warmed Gail’s soul back up to the trail community!! We camped behind the WS Community Center and were out cold fast. They offer free camping, $1 bucket showers that we passed on and much needed snacks for purchase.  We typically crawl into the 4SR (our tent brand is MSR and written on the side but we call it the 4SR as in 4 Season Romero!) about 730 and out cold by 830.

Day 11

(Rob)
Miles 110 to 125
Woke up to ice on Rob’s side of the tent fly and the top of his pack. It had dewed overnight and then the wind blowing from that one side froze the thick dew added to his breath that came out exactly on that spot and we had icicles. It was great to get up today and have coffee with everyone who camped with us. Mellow, Fox and Chris added to our little band last night. Boston, Tasha and the others stayed in Warner Springs for another day to rest tired feet. It was a bit sad to leave everyone today but we have an Idylllwild goal for Sunday night.

Our hike today was our most physical yet. 4000 ft of gain and 2000 back. The Spring Desert landscape continues to impress. We went through fields then along a great stream before THE ASCENT. Hot, rocky but spectacular vistas inside the San Felipe Mountains. We are camped now at 5200 ft. Bellies full of Red Beans n Rice then Oreos for desert. We are sleeping sans fly tonight as the air is dry, temperature dropping fast and snug in our big down mummy bags.  We put our phones and camera in our sleeping bags at night so that the changes in temperature don’t effect the battery. Lacy also puts her clothes for the next morning in sleeping bag sometimes so that they are warm to put on in the cold morning.  Lacy and I are sharing a Jonathan Kellerman book. She reads a few chapters, tears out those pages for me to read then they become fire starter for our Solo Stove.

Day 12

(Rob)
125-144
19 miles today with lots of elevation changes. The 1600 ft + right at the end of the day were a “hurts so good 2 hours”. Two miles into the day we dropped in at Mike Herrera’s house who has a house in the middle of a dry spot. He offers water and camping for hikers. Not only that but he goes above and beyond cooking bbqs and pizzas in his outdoor pizza oven. Very cool setup, but we were on a mission to do the most miles in one day for us so far so we only stayed for the morning beers we were offered. Hikers love their beer. We did meet two brothers from Germany and Seth from Chicago. It’s amazing to see how many people come from all over the country and world to travel these 2,650 miles. There is something very special about this place and we have barely scratched the surface.  When we got to our campsite the brothers and Seth were at the same place. We said hi and then got to setting up the 4SR and making dinner. Not surprisingly, everyone else was in their tent by 7:30. We didn’t eat dinner till after 8 which is really late for us. We are normally asleep by 8:30 and up about 7. This is the earliest we have been consistently asleep maybe ever.

 

Day 13

(Lacy)

144-151 plus 1 mile bonus walk to Paradise Cafe

We were out of the campsite before 7 which is a record for us. Knowing you have 9 miles for a warm breakfast is a great motivator and it wasn’t too cold this morning. The miles went fast though.  A mile or so In we stopped at Mary’s hiker oasis. It’s a woman who hand fills a water tank, set up 2 picnic tables and a book lending library for hikers. I tell you – people really have a soft spot for PCT hikers. So sweet.

We were standing on the highway trying to hitch a ride by 10am. Sadly, we were unsuccessful so we walked the mile to Paradise Cafe where we met back up with the 2 German brothers, Seth and a couple weekend hikers we met the day before. In typical hiker spirit, we all sat down together like one big happy family. It was nice to catch up and get to know everyone better. The food was fantastic. The weekend hikers gave us a ride ten miles into Idyllwild which saved us the need to hitch. We felt bad we couldn’t take the other 3 guys with us but there wasn’t any room. Once in town, we dropped our packs at the Idyllwild Inn where we had reserved a cabin. This place is not expensive, gives a 10% discount to PCT hikers and has cabins with a fireplace, full kitchen, comfy bed and deck. A nice change for an evening. This town is so cute. We walked around for a couple hours until we could check in and checked out all the local stores, bought food for dinner, ran into 2 more thru hikers we hadn’t met yet. They started before us and are taking it slow. Freebird, the guy, has hiked the PCT at least 3 other times, said since there is no rush to get to the Sierras they have been doing less than 10 miles a day. The snow is nearly 200% ABOVE AVERAGE this year and is really delaying when we can cross that part of the trail. Normally people have a sense of urgency on trail, but with the snow conditions there is a more relaxed vibe going on. We know we are taking a break on 4/21 to go up to Seattle so foruntately that works with the snow. Originally we thought we might take 2 or 3 weeks off trail, but we have discussed coming back as soon as it makes sense with the snow. We love the trail. I’m finishing updating this blog now as we prepare to make a steak and drink some wine and hang out tonight. We have to redo our resupply plans since our original thought of stopping every week is a rookie move and not a good one. It’s way too much food to carry. It’s heavy and slows you down. We will be stopping in town more and need to figure out how long our next stretch is so we can buy the right amount of food. Fortunately we are already ahead of the game since our WONDERFUL friends sent us the sweetest package here. It included all sorts of funny notes and snacks for the trail. We were so touched!!!!

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Day 7 Zero Day

Last night the 4 of us decided (us and Tasha and Boston) that we would spend another day in Julian to rest. We hoped to reserve the same room that had a kitchen and nice patio but unfortunately nearly everything in town was booked up. Everyone in the area is coming to see what is the biggest super bloom in 20 years on the desert. In the end we got a great deal on of the only rooms available in town. Technically it’s only supposed to sleep 2 but we crammed all 4 of us in so we can all stay together to hitch a ride back to the trail tomorrow. We had a nice relaxing day wandering around town. Hit a winery, had some sangria and a local knew we were PCT hikers and bought us a delicious Italian dinner. Was a really nice day but at the end we all were beat. Rob and I gave the girls the bed tonight since we had it last night and we set up our sleeping pads on the floor. We are loving the hiking community and how people interact with thru hikers. A lot of kindness and love. Back on trail tomorrow!😊It’s supposed to be cold and rainy which should be very different from last week…IMG_5237IMG_5227

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winery stop

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Pretty daffodils 🌼 everywhere

Day 5 and 6 Miles to 46 to 68.3

Day 5
46-60
We woke up nice and early and started our morning hike before the day got too hot. The mornings in the desert are so cool and beautiful with a soundtrack of birds, wind and the crunch of sand dirt under our feet. The desert views just keep getting more and more beautiful.6241729520_IMG_0132w6174624496_IMG_01196241729520_IMG_0134

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Heading down the 3 mile road off trail to hitch a ride

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Hitching to Julian

It’s like being a postcard all day long. I feel like I’m floating without a care in the world.  We hiked the 8 miles into Pioneer Mail Picnic area where we could take a break for the midday heat and and refill on water. Finding a spot with water, shade and a place to get rid of trash is the trifecta…UNLESS you have the splendid experience of meeting a trail angel and then you have really hit the jackpot. We were hanging at a picnic table with all our gear laid out when a guy pulled up and asked if we were hiking the PCT. We said yes and he replied that he was looking for us. Bangarang is his trail name and it was a discussion and visit that brought me to tears twice in the course of 45 minutes.  He lives in Vegas and drove the 5 hours up to California just to be a trail angel this weekend. He had a trunk full of snacks and cold drinks for the taking. Rob and I grabbed some Doritos and cold drinks and chatted with him for a while. He hiked the PCT in 2015 and 2016 because he said he felt like he had come home when he was on the trail. That really hit my soul and I feel the same way. The people that meet you out here, the community, are all looking for the same simplicity and peace of mind and connection with nature. It’s unbelievable to be surrounded by like-minded individuals.  Bangarang commented on how working for the man feels soul sucking but it serves the purpose for getting back on trail and being hiker trash.  I related SO MUCH to hating working on the office. Being outdoors for a week and serving my soul and not a corporation feels like I am home and I am my best self. Rob and I both agreed that the encounter with Bangarang was so overwhelming. It warmed our hearts that he drove so far to seek us out, to connect and show us some love. This is the trail community that we so looked forward to!!!💜  At Pioneer Mail we hooked up with Tasha and Boston, 2 other thru hikers from Oklahoma that we met. They are awesome and we hiked another 8 miles in the afternoon to Sunrise Trailhead where we camped in a windy meadow. We zipped together our sleeping bags for some snuggles, recounted the wonderful encounters and hike we had that day and slept under the stars. What an amazing day☀️😊💜‼

Day 6
60-68.3

We began at sunrise, wrapped up camp quickly and began our day into the desert landscape.  Thankfully someone cached clean ware near where we camped since the last place we filtered water was not the best tasting. We dumped that and took the fresh clean bottled water. 6241729520_IMG_01736241729520_IMG_01666176719008_IMG_01656241729520_IMG_0155We are coming into the Anza Boreggo Botanical Park area which is going through a Super Bloom due to so much rain in the desert this Spring.  The trail has  become full of flowering bushes, huge Orfila flowers and tiny little wild flowers. We reached Rodriguez Tank Road for a water stock-up, quick lunch n siesta. We met up with Tasha n Boston again and decided to take a side trail so we could hitch into a cute little tourist town of Julian. The four of us were ready for a shower and some real food.  The side trail was in the big heat of the day and a little taxing but worth the walk. We shared a little suite at a B n B, cooked fajitas for dinner, sat up and talked and had “family movie night” before crashing inside for the first time since the Mexican border. We have all made our first communal hiker family together and it’s really nice.

**I’m finding it difficult to get all the photos in the places I want them in the paragraphs on my phone. Sorry for all the mix ups but hopefully you’re enjoying 😊

Day 4 Mile 37 to 46

Lacy:

Laying in our tent staring at the stars after watching a gorgeous sunset from where we set up camp. 6174570576_IMG_0108IMG_5149

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IMG_5152It was absolutely stunning. This morning we woke up at 5:30 to get an early start but I did not sleep well and my entire body was sore so we decided to make it a light day and sleep in. Out of camp by 10 and hiked 4 miles to Mount Laguna. On the way we met Mike who was out for a day hike and works at the outfitters in Laguna. Very interesting to talk to him as he also spent some time living in Nepal. He said 81 people were permitted to start the trail this week and another 60 in the two weeks prior. That’s more than any other year. Virginia Tech just finished collecting data on the impact of hikers on the trail and he said they submit their findings soon but that they already cut the number of permits next year for day hikers from 20 to 10 a week. All these people certainly take a toll on the PCT. We haven’t seen much garbage on the trail but it’s upsetting when we do.

We thoroughly enjoyed a burger and cappuccino for lunch before shipping off 6 pounds of items we decided we could live without. Every ounce and pound matters!  During lunch we met 2 other thru hikers who met up in the beginning. One is a housewife from Malaysia and we later learned from the guy who was with her that he needed to ditch her. She has been tagging along with him and having him do everything for her. He tried to lose her a few times but he said somehow she kept catching up. I was cracking up when he gave her the trail name of Inchworm cause he would give her an inch but she wanted a mile. Oh, trial drama-too funny‼

We hiked 5 miles further about 4 pm and passed the desert vista above that I was not expecting. What’s not to love 💜.