I ended up taking two “zero” days in Idyllwild. My ankle is better because of it, and most of my blisters have turned to calluses at least on my left foot. My right foot is another matter with a blister appearing in consecutive digits going from my little toe and cascading to each toe after that. I hopefully squelched the line at my third toe in, with a good deal of tape on my two biggest toes. Not a big deal as I have learned to embrace the pain. In Idyllwild I watched several unremarkable movies chosen randomly off their DVD library. Including Coyote Ugly, Margin Call and State of Play; horrible! However, I also got to see the Nuggets crucify the Lakers in game 6, which was awesome since I saw the game in a bar with a bunch of disappointed Lakers fans. I finally got my act together and made the steep ascent out of Idyllwild up to Saddle Junction in the San Jacinto Wilderness. I decided to take the non-PCT side trail to San Jacinto Peak. I victoriously accomplished the feat and summited the 10,800 foot and took a panoramic video clip at the top. On the map the trail loops around back to the PCT via a side trail to Deer Springs, but unfortunately for me the trail became unpassable due to the large snow pack. I could have retraced my steps and hiked back over the 7.5 miles back to the PCT peak loop or say, “heck with it” and bushwack it. I chose the latter and took out my trusty GPS device. I surmised that in just 2 kilometers I could unite back to the trail at the San Jacinto River. Problem was I had to scrap and force myself through one meter tall scrub oak, chaparral, boulders, and steep ravines. It was very difficult to say the least but eventually found the trail again. Anyways I am so happy I shelled out the 130 dollars for the GPS device now as it really saved my ass that day. The next day I hiked down one of the longest and hottest descents ever. In 13 miles the trail only went down 8,000 feet. A very long and arduous ramble through the desert heat and horribly, overgrown trail. Being above 9,000 feet or so for the past few days, the lower elevation and 100 degree heat definitely reminded me that I am hiking through a desert folks. The trail that day went another 6 miles through thick, inertial draining sand that turned my ankles to mush. I finally reached the interstate 10 underpass. A Japanese guy named Psycho that didn’t speak a lick of English, two 20 somethings from Cincinnati, and myself all drank some cheap beer that was left in a cooler by a trail angel named DNA. We also started a bonfire and threw rocks at an old railroad crossing sign. I felt like a bum only thing missing was a sing-along to some Clash songs. Good times! A day later on a very lazy Sunday afternoon I found a river called the Whiteriver. I spent 5 hours by a guy named Caesar from Reno and laying with my head sandwiched between two small waterfalls meditating and chilling out for at least an hour. The water was a cool relief from the scorching 110 degree heat. It wasn’t quite the same spiritual experience as the time my friend Mark was probed by a sperm whale but I imagine it is in the same ballpark. Two nights later with dry canyon hiking in 100+ degree weather I find myself in the cool confines of Big Bear Lake at 6500 feet. This town is another resort style of town that reminds me a lot of Estes Park, CO. High prices and kitschy souvenirs but after the heat of the past few days; it is a welcome relief.
Big Bear Lake (265 miles)