Sunday, May 30, 2010

Idyllwild to Big Bear

Hi all,

It's been an exciting week on the trail. Dan and and I have adopted the team name SNAFU (Situation Normal All F-d Up.) The week started out with Dan and I making an attempt on Fuller Ridge on Sunday. It was probably one of the worst days to attempt this section of the trail. We woke up with freezing temperatures and overcast skies camped outside of Idyllwild. As we made our approach toward the ridge line, a full fledged blizzard developed. Dan and I found ourselves struggling to find the buried trail and we got lost for several hours. Temperatures were plummeting and I found myself dangerously unprepared for the conditions. After an hour or so wondering around in the woods, we realized that our footsteps were also quickly disappearing. After a couple of hours of wondering and still unable to find the trail, we made the decision to head down off the mountain and back into Idyllwild to regroup. Thankfully, after very careful trial and error, Dan and I were able to find the trail we took up the mountain and gradually make our descent. After starting the hike around 7:00am, we arrived where we began at 6:00pm. After an exhausting day, we drank hot coffee in the coffee shop in town and camped out in the campground for the night. Here's a few texts from my friend Pete who dropped us off in Idyllwild and who was monitoring the storm from town:

1.) Yo message me when you make it out ok? I know u 2 are gonna be exhausted.
2.) Urgent. all pct hikers are skipping this section. search n rescue is looking 4 people up there! Get down now!

The rest of the week has been great. The folks in Idyllwild were terrific. Many people offered Dan and I rides throughout the day. We received rides to and out of town the first time we extended our thumbs. Once I finally reached the PCT on Monday, the descent out of San Jacinto State Park toward the I-10 was fantastic. Temperatures increased and wildflowers were exploding all the way to the desert floor. We passed the wind farm just outside of Joshua Tree National Park. We spent an insanely windy evening cowboy camped outside the wind turbines listening to their ghostly howl through the night. We've irritated several rattlesnakes, already. In fact, one beautiful white rattlesnake took a nap in the shade of a sage bush and I accidentally placed my hiking pole right between it's curled up body. Thankfully he still seemed lethargic in the late morning, and did not attempt a strike despite my clearly invading it's personal space. Dan and I camped along the White River watching the full moon rise above the canyon. We've met and befriended several thruhikers already. We found ourselves attempting to solve a mystery involving several hundred dollars worth of abandoned gear near Mission Springs. We night hiked with the aid of the full moon with our new friend Jackalope. We drank an afternoon beer with a father, his two sons, and their grandfather who had an uncanny resemblance to Uncle Jesse from the Dukes of Hazard, near Coon Cabin sharing stories of the outdoors. We saw lions, tigers and bears (no, really) as the trail passed an animal refuge that takes care of retired Hollywood animal actors and allows them to live out their final days sleeping in cages. Finally, we have found ourselves staying in a fantastic hostel in the town of Big Bear Lake, taking a well deserved rest, and catching up with our fellow hikers whom we have crossed paths with earlier in the week. So far it's been a great week. We resupply on Tuesday and make our way toward Wrightwood.

Michael., I will send you some pictures in the mail Tuesday. Talk to you all soon...


  1. That's an exciting first week. I can't wait to see the pictures. I'm glad that I am just reading about your snow storm at this time of the year rather than experiencing it first hand. It's beach season!

  2. Mark, the snow is all yours. We had our fill this winter. I think we've all officially had snow this year (Delaware, Maryland, Texas, North Carolina, California).

    This trip sounds epic already and you just started. Should be an incredible five months. I'll be on the lookout for your photos.