PCT Days 10-13: Warner Springs to Idyllwild

Escaping Warner Springs was not an easy task to accomplish. After so long on trail the availability of beer, burgers and actual toilets that don’t require you to dig a 6 inch hole renders the town something of a black hole for hikers. Many get sucked into the vortex and don’t make it back into the trail.

Leaving the community centre in the morning, the place looked like a refugee camp, so many people were recovering from injuries of varying degrees of severity and some were unable to continue.

I managed to rip myself away from the relative comforts of being indoors and headed back onto the trail. My motivation for the next three days was the promise of “the best burger on the PCT” at the Paradise Valley Cafe, 33 miles ahead. 

The next few days involved more of the same desert landscape, most of the walking exposed to the scorching desert sun and requiring large volumes of water to be carried. 

A welcome break came in the form of Mike’s Place, an RV set up just off the trail where hikers are given water, shade, beer, soda, and I even managed to get a breakfast burrito and a burger. This is another great example of trail magic where amazing generosity is offered to PCT hikers with no expectation of money in return, although everyone left them a voluntary donation. I noticed some pizza ovens near the RV that I was hoping would get fired up, but I guess you can’t have it all.

Mike's Place

Mike’s Place

This dry section of the trail is a struggle, but the hardship is lessened by the water caches dotted along the way. These can vary in size from a couple of bottles of water left in the bushes by the trail to huge crates full of gallon jugs of the stuff.

Water cache

Water cache

Arriving at the Paradise Valley Cafe, the place was inundated with PCT hikers. I was too hungry to think to take a picture of the burger but I can confirm it was delicious. There is a Korean camera crew out on the trail making a documentary and they’ve interviewed me a few times, asking about my hike or just filming me walking. They were lingering around the cafe filming people with mouths full of food or getting shots of blistered feet. Apparently the film is called Journey on Foot and will be released in March 2017. There’s a good chance that this time next year I’ll be famous in Korea.

The next 17 miles of trail were out of bounds due to a fire closure so hikers had to hitch a ride from the cafe to take them around the closure to Idyllwild. It’s a shame to miss such a large section of trail (about a day’s hike) but there’s nothing to be done unless I walked along the roads which is not going going to be fun. I’d love to have walked an unbroken path from Mexico to Canada but I’d rather not get hit by a car in doing so. There is another closure coming up just before Big Bear City that will also necessitate hitching around but after that it should be a clear path all the way to Canada.

There is supposedly some bad weather coming in tomorrow so I’m hoping this might be my first taste of snow on the trail. My tent has taken a bit of a battering already so I’m praying it holds out. Only another 2500 miles to go!

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