April 24, 2017: Hiked Miles 151.8 to 166.6, plus 1.5 miles on alternate route due to fire closure and 1 mile from the cafe to trailhead (17.3 total)
We started off our day hiking back to the trailhead from the Paradise Valley Cafe. Most people we have met are skipping the section we will have done today and tomorrow and going straight to Idyllwild from the cafe. The Mountain Fire reforestation has shut down part of the trail and forced hikers to take alternate routes. Apparently this scares hikers because we only saw four other hikers all day today.
The first 15 miles of the day were on the PCT and then we got on a side trail that will take us around the fire closure. Today was probably the best day we have had on the trail so far. We slowly started gaining elevation and were surrounded by huge rocks, oak trees, streams, and a cool overcast sky. It felt like we were back in Northern California out for a day hike, especially with the lack of familiar faces.
The higher we climbed, the cooler and windier it got. Most days the trail skirts right under the ridge of the mountain, but today we were walking right on the ridgetop most of the time. This gave us the most incredible views and also the most insane winds. Colton kept looking back at me to laugh at how crazy it was, but I know he was really just checking to make sure I hadn’t blown off the mountain. It was so fun to be thrown around by each gust, but I’m really glad we had our trekking poles to keep us upright.
It was a hard, long day with all the climbing and wind, but we took our time since we knew it wasn’t too long of a day and enjoyed all the new scenery. In the afternoon we were up above 7000 feet, and the mountain mist and clouds started to roll in. It got pretty dark and it felt like we were in a whole other world. There was a lot of evidence of the fire, with tons of scorched manzanita bushes, and it had a spooky feeling. We both agreed we felt like we were either in a Lord of the Rings or a medival movie. It got really cold and we had to put on all our cold weather gear, such a change from yesterday when we were melting on the desert floor.
Eventually we started on the alternate route for the fire closure and started winding our way downhill. We found a stream to refill our water and a nice place to set up camp. It was pretty late by that point and the mist was getting thicker, so we set up camp fast, filtered our water and made dinner. We finally cooked the Top Ramen that we have been carrying around with us since Mexico and finished off dinner with some mashed potatoes. The ramen was a nice change from our usual rice that we are sick of, and tasted great on a cold evening. I overheard another hiker the other day talking about monitoring your sweat to look for signs of dehydration. She said if you’re sweating and your clothes don’t have salt stains, you’re probably getting low on sodium. Her solution: eat a Top Ramen and you’ll be good for a month. Guess we will see.
Colton and I were discussing our nutrition because we were both hungry all day today. I think our bodies have gotten used to eating small meals throughout the day and we totally screwed them up yesterday by devouring a huge double cheeseburger and fries and now they’re craving that again. We are expending anywhere from 3500 to 5000 calories a day right now and are probably only eating 2000 to 2500 a day when we’re on the trail, since we have to carry all our food and it’s pretty heavy. Which is why it’s so important that we get into towns often enough to stuff our faces. Which we have absolutely no problem with.
We’re now laying in our tent with only the sound of a creek trickling next to us. It’s been awhile since we’ve camped alone and it’s kinda a nice change, although I am missing seeing so many happy, dirty faces all day.
Tomorrow we hike into Idyllwild, where Colton’s aunt is going to pick us up and has hooked us up with a hotel in Palm Desert for a night with the promise of a steak dinner. We’re not excited at all.