Day 14: Zero in Idyllwild


Zeroes are always a little crazy and random. I’m not planning to walk through Idyllwild today, given that the point is rest. I want to stay off my leg as much as possible, all day long. I do have some errands to run, though, and I have to get my food and such ready for the trail tomorrow. Plus, I have to do some thinking and reorganizing. I’ll be dealing with my first snow hiking of the trip within the next couple of days, so my pack will need to be organized differently. I kind of half hope that my microspikes will come in handy so I can justify carrying them. ( I’m hearing that Jacinto is sketchy.) But I also really hope I don’t need them. I have to figure out the pants situation. Also, there’s some alternate coming, so I need to figure out if I’m doing A or B, or somesuch. I think.

Random fact: Day 13 on the AT: roughly 81 miles. Day 13 on the PCT: 151 miles. Score! Day 13 was, if I recall, followed by a zero or a double zero in Franklin because of bitter cold and snow. And here we are. Zeroing! After this, the math gets blurry because of fhe trail closures. But at Big Bear, I’m going to start the hike over and reset the clock. For now, my only concern is getting to Big Bear in a way thay lets my legs heal while I’m using them.

There are still 50 people per day starting at Campo, through the end of May.

So. Idyllwild is a lovely, deliberately rustic tourist-slash-vacation town. It’s expensive, like most tourist towns are: $7 ice cream cones and $3 coffees. But lodging is cheap (relatively; PCT hiker rate for the win!) Everything is cabin-y and mountain-y. It’s also very artsy. There are art studios and art supply places, antique stores, a theater (community theater, I suppose), and a movie theater that looks like an old West saloon. It’s all really charming. I understand Brad Pitt used to own property around here. One of my generous drivers told me yeterday that he used to visit the Paradise Valley Cafe, which was a scruffy biker-bar sort of place. I can see him fitting in there. Because, you know, I know him so well.

I went to the coffee shop and bumped into Weta, the New Zealander I met at the airport and who stayed at Scout and Frodo’s when I did. He started a day later, plus he did the 27-mile roadwalk around the fire closure, so he’s booking. He was kind of appalled that nearly every single person is hitching instead of doing the road walk. But hey, I signed up to walk the PCT. If the PCT is closed and if the powers that be tell me not to worry about the little tag ends of open trail, my conscience is clear. And there it is–‘Hike Your Own Hike’ in action. Weta’s also planning to do some sort of walk around the next closure. I hope that works out for him. The alternates I saw posted on Facebook involved either (supposedly) difficult bushwacking requiring excellent navigation skills, and/or passage through a closed Indian reservation. A difficult trip any way it goes. I think most people are taking a 6-hour bus ride, which is what the PCTA recommends. I might rent a car or see if I can pay somebody to drive me. We’ll see. I don’t really have a sense of it yet. I’m planning to decide at Ziggy and the Bear’s (trail angel vortex) at mile 210.

Anyway, good to see I’m still in the mix in some form or other.

Some random thoughts:
Snot doesn’t stick to cuben fiber. (OK, that’s really random.) Seriously, I thought my nose would stop running out here, and it runs like a firehose. Black, filthy snot because fhe dirt here is unbelievable. Dirt! The AT is like a surgical suite in comparison. Which is someething I never thought I’d say.

I met a girl in Warner Springs who literally had no pants. Her name was… let’s say Spudtoddler. So, Spudtoddler is ultralight. She was cute as a button and maybe 19 or 20, wearing the shortest of shorts. She had no pants with her at all, no leg coverings, and in the 45-degree rain, her legs were red with cold. (She said some of it was sunburn. I’m not really sure that’s any better.) Somebody gave her pants.

Now, I don’t think that’s an issue of HYOH. It’s an issue of making other hikers carry your weight. Let them carry your sunscreen, your pants, your tent, your bugspray, your maps, your water, so you can be ultralight. This, I personally find to be all sorts of bullshit. Carry your own safety shit, like pants. For the snow. But of course, Spudtoddler isn’t sitting in Idyllwild with a bad knee. (She’s probably in Big Bear or farther.)

Drought. This drought situation is a real eye opener. We take water for granted back east. Let the faucet run, have a bunch of showers, all that. I love using water. 🙂 But out here, managing drought is a whole cultural issue. You don’t flush toilets every time. You don’t run water when you’re brushing your teeth. You don’t run water to wash a single fork. You constantly think about water and whether you’re wasting it. It really really makes me grateful for out water richness back home. We’re so lucky!

Random zero-day gear update: The umbrella has been fabulous, but mostly for breaks in the desert. It saved my bacon on days 1 and 2. But with the knee injury, I’ve had to use both poles, and my pack is too high on top to rig the umbrella hands-free in any meaningful way. I though about sending it home here, but… the Mojave Desert is still to come. That seems like the place the umbrella would be needed the most. So, even though it’s 8 ounces, I think I’ll keep it until Kennedy Meadows (the start of the Sierra/high mountain, winter portion of the trail).

The one piece of gear that was a total last-minute impulse buy is this Lifeproof case for my phone. What a blessing that’s been! The filth alone would probably have destroyed my poor old iPhone 5 already. So that’s a score.

I have whopping huge sunglasses that go over my regular glasses. Those are working out well. My glasses have one bad scratch on them. They’ll need replacing after this trip. (I can’t see out of the things anyway.)

My Six Moon Designs Fusion pack is filthy and battered. I thought about changing it out for a lighter one to save a pound, but I think I’ll stick with it–at least as far as Tahoe, if I get that far. Then the heavy water carries and bear canister/ice axe foo will be finished. If I’m ever stupid enough again to do another long trip, I’m going to have to bite the bullet and make some big sacrifices.

Random: The biggest crows I’ve ever seen in my life are currently picking at the trash out back. Ravens? Those things are as big as Volkswagons! Huge! Flying freaking monkeys! That enjoy a tasty bit of hiker garbage! Hey, maybe that’s how they got that size. They ate hiker trash (literally) and mutated.

And… I suppose that’s it! The Daily Times, Zero Day Edition. 🙂