A stretch of extremes (Idyllwild to Big Bear summary)

The day I left Idyllwild was my most fun and social day on the trail! I became a mini-celebrity at the local breakfast place, Dr. Sole came to visit Muk Muk and we had a happy reunion with lots of hugs and kisses, a nice local woman named Maeux offered to drive me to the trail, I met some nice day hikers on my way up to San Jacinto peak, and then I became the center of attention for the next hour on top of the peak, posing for an audience of men. It was so much fun!! Give me a stage…

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I ended up hiking until 11pm that night thanks to my new headlight. I could see the lights of Cabazon below, which was pretty. We had a very hot 23 mile downhill stretch ahead of us, and a few of us wanted to knock off a few of these miles in the cool night air.
I got too tired to hike any longer and found a nice flat spot to cowboy camp.
I woke up to an amazing sunset!

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The two girls and guy from Redding passed by me while I was still in my sleeping bag and for the rest of the day, a bunch of hikers passed me. It was hot early on, there was no shade, and sharp, strong prickly bushes overtook the trail and bruised and bled me. Today was a day of choosing the lesser of discomforts. Keep my rain pants on and scorch or take them off and get scratched and scraped?
I had 16 more miles to get to a trail angel’s house. I was tired. Should I find a rock to nap under or should I keep pushing on and wait to rest there?
The sun kept growing hotter. I finally reached the water fountain, filled up, and then had to figure out where the trail picked up.

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A vehicle that was parked nearby drove toward me. “Are you confused?”
I got a mini- geology lesson, as well as some directions, and advice on kicking sand into a sidewinder’s eyes if one gets in my way. “Sidewinder? What’s that? A snake?”
“Don’t they tell you about those in your book?”
“Nope…”
I still had to make it across five more miles of scorching desert and it only got worse. The wind picked up and was knocking me sideways and the sand was loose and 2-3 inches deep. I could hardly move forward.
Finally, in mid-afternoon, I reached the trail angel’s house to find a gaggle of lounging hikers.

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I was given a questionaire to fill out, told I would be brought a foot bath, and that salad would be served at 6 and ice cream at 7:30! Caroline (from Scout and Frodo’s) was there, as well as the boys from Sweden. I took a shower, and was so happy to find conditioner in there! I had walked in hot, tired, and in a bad mood, but within an hour, everything was just fine!
A lot of hikers left that afternoon, but I stayed the night. I was wiped. All I wanted to do was lie down and sleep. Unfortunately, the strong winds whipped the tarp all night long and I couldn’t sleep at all. Another group of hikers came in around 8 or 9 at night.

After some cereal, a banana, and a coffee, I packed up and headed out. Rain was forecasted (apparently, it rains only once a year there and when it does, about 4 inches falls!). I was happy for the cooler weather that this weather pattern was bringing. A bunch of hikers left around the same time and I was wishing for my own space. I hiked 22 miles that day and found a make-shift camping spot in a sandy gully. Caroline was further ahead.

The next morning, after my latest start to date (7:00), I passed by two hikers who still had their tent up around 9 or 10am. I found a stream to collect water and then heard voices.
4 men in orange jackets were headed down the trail to the creek. They asked me if I had seen 3 men in their 40s in t-shirts and shorts. They were unprepared to be out here and were reported missing yesterday morning.
I hiked on and saw the Search and Rescue vehicle ahead. I stopped to take a picture and then saw a search and rescue man on a horse! He came over and asked me if I was hiking the PCT.
“Really?”, he responded with a proud smile. He chatted with me for awhile and then was joined by three others on horses.
“This girl is from Boston. She’s hiking the PCT!”
They told me what route the missing hikers took. They wanted to climb San Gorgino, which is an 18 mile round trip. The smoker in the group was struggling and turned around and went back. When the others hasn’t returned by Saturday morning, he reported them missing.
“That’s off the PCT.”
“Yes.”
I knew they were somewhere around that peak…

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The two hikers who had slept-in, passed by. I didn’t see anyone else all day! It remained very cold and clouds obscured any views. It started to sleet, the temperature dropped even more, and then it started to hail. I put on all if my layers, including my hat, 2 hoods, and gloves.

I got an eerie feeling right before I came to the animal cages (“predators in action”)- Hollywood show animals that were wasting their lives away in tiny, bare cages. It was a sad sight. I gave myself a treat and listened to some Serena Ryder and Ray LaMontagne (knowing no rattlesnakes would be out because it was so cold).
I met back up with the 2 guys from Redding at the water cache.
“Do they use the word ‘bubble’ to describe a mass of hikers in one area?”, I asked them.
“Yeah, I’ve heard that word used a couple of times before,” one of them said.
“What’s the opposite of a bubble?” I asked.
“I don’t know.”
“Well, we’re in it because you 2 are the only ones I’ve seen all day!”
I cooked my pasta, ate, then packed up and moved on. I passed by some nice camping spots, but it was a bit too early to stop. Of course, when it was starting to get dark, I didn’t see anything. Then I reached a forest service dirt road with a flat spot next to it. Good enough! I figured no one would be driving on it. I set up my tent (bending and breaking several of my stakes!), and dozed off to sleep after 8. The temperature had rapidly dropped and it was now in the low 40s. I needed to put my sleeping bag liner over my whole head to start to warm up. I wondered how the hikers in their t-shirts and shorts were getting through this.
A couple of hours of later in the pitch dark, a vehicle came up the road. It stopped across from my tent and a headlight started towards me! It was all happening so fast and I was just coming out of sleep. “Hi there,” a man called out.
“Hi.”
“Have you seen…?”
“Three men in their 40’s? No.”
“Oh, they already asked you.”
I told him they probably got cold and took a different route off the mountain- quite aways from where I was now!
“Oh, that’s over by…”
“Yes.”
He turned around and called back, “thanks, guys!”
Thanks, girl, you mean… I’m a girl, all by myself, camping by a road…
It was freezing cold all night long. I heard helicopters flying overhead most of the night.
At 5:30 in the morning, it was 32.7 degrees- too cold to get up. I fell asleep and woke up abruptly at 6:30, feeling I had really overslept! It was still only 33 degrees. My poptarts that I had planned on eating were missing!
I bit into a frozen bar, packed up, put on all of my clothes, broke down my tent, and moved on. I had 11 miles to reach the highway to hitch into Big Bear. I got warm during the climbs, but became very cold on the flats and descents. My nose kept running. And it started to hail again.
It hailed on me while I was waiting for a hitch (something I’m not good at!). A lot of cars passed by and didn’t care. Then one turned around to pick me up. He said he felt bad for me, which doesn’t happen often. “You have to listen when it comes up.”
I was delivered to Nature’s Inn, went to find food while they got my room ready (a much longer walk in the freezing cold then I had anticipated), and was happy to see that I could still order breakfast at 1pm! I chatted with a local and then walked back to my room. I couldn’t get my body temperature to regulate for the rest of the day and my nose wouldn’t stop running! The freezing cold weather had made me sick!
I had a barbecue chicken sandwich and tea for dinner, chatted with more locals, did my laundry, then got in the hot tub!

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I hoped a night of sleep would help my body recover.
After I went to sleep, Muk Muk and UB came in after hiking 31 miles yesterday! Crazy people!
I got some nice hugs this morning and awesome breakfast company with those two this morning. I love them and I hope we can actually hike together sometime soon! (They hike together now).

Oh, they found the missing hikers yesterday morning. And they appear to be just fine! They don’t even have colds!!
And they were where I suspected they would be! Partially down on a different path off the peak they climbed!

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3 thoughts on “A stretch of extremes (Idyllwild to Big Bear summary)

  1. Hi Wendy!
    Sounds amazing what you are doing. I have read your blog postings and am very impressed with your new path in life. You go girl!

    • Thanks, Maria!
      There are two Swedish guys hiking the trail this year. One’s mother is from Falkenberg! They both live a half an hour away! Small world.
      xo

  2. Good on you for making the side trip to San Jacinto’s summit. Hope you liked it (apparently you did). Cheers!

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