May 15, 2011
(or…my first 20 mile day…)
What a day…woke up thinking of doing half of the 24 miles left into Idyllwild…then the weather. As I gained elevation into the San Jacinto mountains, the temperature began to drop. Clouds draped the range, dropping mist like raindrops. Wind physically assaulted from down the mountain side up, and occasionally from opposite sides, relentlessly. The higher I climbed the worse it got, and I was often thrown into the rocks or bushes on the sides of the trail, at one point my beanie was flung by invisible fingers from my head up the mountainside, where a full scale one man rescue operation ensued. I would not lose my handmade Kat Pierini beanie to this mountain. Not today! I stopped at one point & made a fire to warm up in a pretty wind-free cave, and dried out my bag, shies, gloves & socks. Ah. Small tip: watch your nice wool socks while drying them by a fire. Unless you want to be like me & burn a huge three-toed hole in them. *sigh*. I loved those socks.
After a couple hours, I carried on, saw some beautiful views, cursed the trail planners of the PCT (you really had to wind up and around EVERY point of the mountain? Really? I just want to get to Idyllwild, not gain more elevation!!) and eventually bedded down for the night about 5 miles from the trailhead to Idyllwild.
It was well past dark & below freezing, so I made my sleep spot for the night nestled on some ground surrounded by snow drifts. My hastily set-up tarp ended up over my head during the night somehow, but I was warm and toasty. A very non-shameless plug & “THANK YOU” to Jack & Jack at Jacks’R'Better…the quilt they sponsored me with for this hike has been nothing short of brilliant, and this night I put it to the test. Sub-freezing temps, wind, snow, a failed tarp set up, and I stayed warm & dry & toasty. I’m planning to do a quick gear review, so I’ll talk more about it later, but for now: wow. Thanks guys, I’m grateful for your benevolent spirit each night.