Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Idyllwild/Fuller Ridge


Since I do not have the pictures from Crater Lake to Washington yet from my brother, I decided to show the last leg of my PCT hike, Idyllwild to Campo. Once I get the pictures from my brother, hopefully I can finish posting pictures from Crater Lake to Manning Park. It seems a bit disjointed to do it this way, but at least this gives me something to do while on the job search!

Black Mountain Road

I left San Diego on Friday morning, the 22nd of October. My friend Pete arranged a ride for me with one of his friends who was heading up to Mt. San Gorgonio for the weekend. Immediately, I was thrown back into travel mode. It's a liberating sense of freedom that is hard to describe. In some ways, it's a surrender of control. I knew I had to get to Idyllwild, but I was not sure how it would transpire. I knew I would get there eventually, and I was not the least bit concerned how long it would take me. Pete's friend could only take me as far as the 72, about 15 miles west of the town of Hemet. In the past, this would give me all sorts of anxiety. Hemet is only halfway there! How will I make it the rest of the way?
Sun peeping through the clouds south of Black Mountain Road

One thing I learned time and time again while on the PCT: You will get what you need, maybe not when you want it, or how you want it, but it will work out. With this in mind, I drew a cardboard sign with the name "Idyllwild" in bold black letters. After Pete's friend dropped me off about 15 miles west of Hemet, I stuck out my thumb, held up my sign, and hoped for the best.
Looking north towards the I-10 and windfarm in the valley

After standing on the side of the road under grey morning skies for about twenty minutes, a small Honda finally pulled over. "I can give you a ride to Hemet," a fine dressed man said from behind the wheel. "Great!" I said, and hopped in. The man's name was Nelson, an immigrant from Nicaragua who was heading to work at the Honda dealership in town. He was taking his son's car into work and was going to have a stereo system installed into the car. He told me all about his family, and I told him as much as I could about the trail. "When we get to the dealership, make sure you help yourself to coffee and bagels inside," Nelson said. "Great!" I replied once again. (One thing Indie and I discussed while on the trail, was never declining an invitation. I guess it's kind of like Carpe Diem, or seize the moment.) I was trying to live by this traveling philosophy, so I happily accepted.
After helping myself to some coffee, I said goodbye to Nelson who was already busy answering phones at his desk. I began walking through the town of Hemet, looking for a good place to resume my hitch to Idyllwild. It felt a little strange walking through town with my backpack. In fact, I never got quite used to it. For all intents and purposes I was basically a homeless drifter. I had no home, looked quite disheveled, and was met with suspicious looks from townspeople. Maybe it was all in my head, but at least I had a goal in mind: Get back to the trail. Very quickly, the coffee began working its way through my system. I had to use the bathroom bad. A couple of times, I was able to run into one of the fast food joints along the road. However, I really preferred just using some trees. That's what I had been doing for the last 5 months. Suddenly, I felt society's rules and restrictions slowly closing in around me and began to feel claustrophobic. At one point, I just had to use the bathroom, and there was nowhere to go for a mile or so in each direction. I had to secretly find a discreet grove of trees along the side of the road and hope no one saw me.
I remember as a kid taking a walk in the woods near my house and seeing a man bathing in the river near my house. I remember wondering, why doesn't he have a house? Why is he not using a bathroom? Why is he bathing in the river? While walking through Hemet, I was hoping some kid looking out the window of his car was not thinking the same thing as I walked through town with my backpack.
Rocks along Fuller Ridge. No snow!!
Hemet was much larger of a town than I anticipated. I wanted to walk to the other end and resume my hitch from the east side. However, after a few miles of walking, the end of town was nowhere to be seen. Thankfully, a man in a minivan saw me and asked me where I was going. I told him about the PCT and he said, "I can give you a ride about five miles from Idyllwild if you want." "Great!" was my reply once again and I jumped into his car. He was a Mormon, and a scoutmaster to boot. He took his troop hiking in the mountains quite regularly, and was very interested in the PCT. After about a twenty minute ride, he dropped me off in front of a Post Office about five miles from Idyllwild. The temperature was much cooler due to the elevation, and I felt relieved to be out of town and in the mountains. Just 5 miles to go. I held up my sign and extended my thumb one more time and got a ride from a German woman named Katrina within 5 minutes. She had two German shepherds in her car who were obviously not sure what to make of this stranger who was now in their vehicle. After a quick ride up the road, Katrina dropped me off in the middle of Idyllwild. It was great to be back!

I spent the rest of the day hanging out in town, walking around, and eating. I spent the night in the campground in town and pitched my tent in the same area where Dan and I camped back in May. Back then, there were thru hikers all over the place, in fact at least a dozen spent the night in the campground. There was a festive and solemn mood at the same time back then. Many hikers were wondering if thru hiking was a possibility this year due to weather and snow accumulation. One couple was never to be seen again. It was assumed that they quit right there and then, the day after Dan and I got snowed off the mountain.
Anyways, after a restful day in town, the next morning I had one more destination in mind: To reach the PCT where Dan and I joined it in the beginning of my trip. We had taken the Black Mountain Road detour to avoid the snowed in, and very dangerous Fuller Ridge. I began hitching again first thing in the morning and was immediately picked up by a young girl named Crystal driving a huge, black, pickup truck. "This town is so friendly!" I said, amazed how quickly and easily hitches were in Idyllwild. "Oh, we see hikers all the time here," she said. After dropping me off at Black Mountain Road, I still had about 8 miles before I reached the PCT. Black Mountain Road is basically a dirt fire road that heads up to the Fuller Ridge trail head. I was planning on hiking the 8 miles up to the PCT, when a Prius was making it's way up the dirt road. The car stopped and an older gentleman rolled down his window and asked, "Do you want a ride?" Never one to decline an invitation, I said, "Sure!" Also in the car was the man's two older sons and daughter. They were from Calgary Canada and were heading out for a few days to hike and camp. The man was a big fan of the PCT and had been following several trail journals this year. Unfortunately, I didn't know any of the hikers he was following, but I tried to share as much info as I could about the trail. After about a bumpy fifteen minute drive up the road, I spotted the spot where Dan and I met the trail in May. After dropping me off, we said our goodbyes and once again I was on the PCT.

1 comment:

  1. More great pictures, and nice stories. In this batch, my favorite is the second one, of the sun rays breaking through the clouds. Thanks for posting!