Day 15: “Is that as much fun as it looks?”
Wednesday, April 4, 2018 6:18 pm
Location: Idyllwild (168.6 miles)

With a campsite in a valley, it was surprisingly cold overnight, and definitely more humid than I preferred. It’s always pretty lousy when your dryish clothes get wetter just by sitting there. But, not every campsite can be warm and dry. At least mine was close to water and a restroom.

I continued the second half of the Spitler Peak Alternate this morning, setting out shortly before 8. Yesterday’s part of the fire alternate was mostly open views and a downhill hike, but easily half of today’s hike was uphill, and did not have much in the way of views. There was the occasional nice view of San Jacinto Mountain, which I’ll be climbing over (and summiting, hopefully) when I leave town, and also some views into the valley, with a fog hanging over.

Morning Fog in the Valley
Morning Fog in the ValleyView southeast. Toro Peak is on the far left. The PCT crosses the valley in front of Lookout Mountain, in the center.

The latter part of the fire alternate went through an somewhat upscale neighborhood of fancy-looking cabins and houses, many of which were named and some of which were thematically styled. As I was walking through the neighborhood, a guy called out, “is that as much fun as it looks?”. I had to admit that the roadwalk I was currently on wasn’t much fun, but of course, the views on the mountains more than made up for it. As we got to talking, he offered a soda, which I happily accepted. We wound up talking for a good ten or fifteen minutes, as Blue Jays pecked at something in his just-cleaned gutters. (Water, he supposed.)

Eventually, he had to get back to his gutters, and I had to get into town to get a room, so we parted ways. Shortly after, I made it into town; the first thing I saw in town was the Idyllwild Brewpub, which immediately rose to the top of my list of places to visit. I got a room at the Idyllwild Inn, but had to wait until 3 pm for checkin (checkout was at 12, and it was before that, even), so with several hours to kill, I went to get lunch.

Lunch, I decided, was going to be across the street at Gastrognome, so-named because they serve food and like gnomes. I’m sad to say that while the food was okay, the service was somewhat sub-par, and I don’t think I will be returning there. That’s okay, though, because there’s plenty of other restaurants in town to choose from.

After lunch, with more time to kill, I wandered around town, and ran into hiker Lucky Strike. He originally came out to California to hike part of the PCT with a friend, only to break his wrist even before they started hiking. This was not his first hiking-debilitating injury, either: on a prior attempt on the Appalachian Trail, he seriously injured his ankle about 30 miles into the Hundred Mile Wilderness in Maine, and then had to hike the 30 miles back out. (This is also the hardest 30 miles of the Hundred Mile Wilderness, so the cringe factor at least doubles there.)

In any case, his friend convinced him to come hiking anyway, and rather than ship his gear from home, they rounded up gear from Craigslist, putting together a functional (if not necessarily great) hiking system for $70. Here, in Idyllwild, having decided to stick with it, at least for a while longer, he had his gear set from home, and so he was going through his two sets of gear, consolidating everything into one pack, and leaving the rest in a hiker box. While he was doing that, a local came up to talk with us, and expressed interest in doing a section of the trail himself.

After a bit more wandering around Idyllwild — which is a little harder than it seems; the interesting part of town is really quite compact, with everything pretty much within a five minute walk — I returned to the hotel and got into my room, and then promptly took a long, relaxing shower, followed by relaxing in bed for awhile, killing time until the brewpub opened at 5.

While I waited, I chatted with Meghan, who’s been off-trail since Warner Springs recovering from her foot injury. She’s contemplating skipping up to Idyllwild and doing the intermediate section later, so depending on timing, it’s possible I may see her again before too long.

The Idyllwild Brewpub, the obvious choice for dinner tonight, has 18 of their own beers on tap, with a ride range of styles, so I’m probably not going to make it through their whole beer list while I’m in town. While there, I talked for awhile with a local and his friend from out of town about the trail and other things before turning in for the night.

Tomorrow: laundry, planning, resupply, and otherwise general lazing around.