PCT Day 15

April 27, 2019

Mile 175.4 to mile 179.4, Saddle Junction + 2.5 miles off trail to hitch into town, 6.5 miles total

Running total: 191.8 miles
We woke up excited again- today was a town day!! That means: shower! laundry! warm food! a bed! We quickly ate a small breakfast of Cliff bars, ever so excited for the warm food to come once we reached town!

Mantra was up and going before us, but no surprise there- we were always off to late starts. We ended up chatting with Mark, whom we had met at the coldest, most miserable part of our rainy/windy day 4, and whom we hadn’t seen since. I was getting chilly and restless, so we said goodbye to him and started our last ascent of the day.

We woke up to the air smelling and feeling like fall, then suddenly we were walking in a winter wonderland! It was gorgeous, but oh so confusing! It was hard to stay on the trail when some of the trail was under snow, and other parts seemed to have recently melted- there were times when we were significantly off the trail and had to scamper back on.

We briefly ran into Mantra as she leapt across a fairly large stream crossing, but she went on ahead as Matt and I tried to figure out the best way to cross ourselves. A short while later I heard what I had thought was a bird or a mountain lion call- Matt turned and asked if I heard it, and I was like, “yeah, what was that?!”

Shit! Mantra! I called out her name, and she responded, “yeah, I don’t know where I am!”- we couldn’t see her, but we could tell she was ahead of us somewhere, so I initiated a game of Marco Polo until it sounded like we were close by each other. Eventually Mantra was able to spot Matt & bushwhacked her way up to us- somehow she missed a switchback and ended up wandering in the woods. Her phone had died the night before and she had no way of checking to see where she was compared to the trail. Scary!!!
{When we got into town we met Charise and Tim, now “45,” who said that they had saved somebody in the same section in a similar situation- they had come across a lost solo hiker with a dead phone. THEN we ran into Brooks who said HE was lost in that section with a dead phone, considering just setting up his tent and hoping somebody would eventually walk by- he, too, was rescued- and not by Charise and 45!!}
Needless to say, we ended up hiking the rest of the way with Mantra. At one point we ended up a ways off trail, but after a lovely steep climb in the snow we were able to easily navigate back on trail. Mantra made a comment about Matt’s pace, to which he replied, “I only have one speed!” – and that was the birth of his trail name, One Speed.

Finally we reached mile 179.4, where instead of continuing on the PCT, we took a 2.5 mile trail that would bring us down to the beautiful town of Idyllwild.

Those last miles downhill lasted FOREVER! And as we went down towards the trailhead we saw a bunch of people day hiking up- shoot! If everyone is only just starting their hike, who was going to give us a ride to town?!?

We finally made it to the parking lot and, as we had feared, nobody was leaving towards town. We started walking down the longggg road to town when a van pulled over- a man I recognized as Ghost, a famous but elusive Trail Angel, came out to help load our bags into the back of his van. We jumped in his car and were soon in town!

Mantra, Matt, and I decided on pizza for lunch, where we met and dined with Thomas, another thru hiker. At one point during lunch a bunch of pennies fell out of Thomas’ pocket, and then later he opened a package from his girlfriend that included a “lucky penny” – so I gave him the trail name Pennies- he seemed psyched to be named!

After lunch Matthew called our hotel to see if we could check in a little early- we had so many errands to do and we wanted to get started so the next day we could relax. Guys, all I wanted was a shower, a bathroom, and a bed I didn’t have to blow up, but apparently our hotel was overbooked and we didn’t actually have a room. This was super frustrating, as we had booked this hotel a week ago knowing that Idyllwild hotels book up fast!
Matthew spent a lot of time pacing in the parking lot fuming, intermittently on the phone with the hotel. I stood in front of the post office, making phone calls to confirm that all of the other hotels were in fact full.
At some point a man waiting in a car rolled down his window and said, “you must be really looking forward to a shower!”
“Funny story,” I said, as I updated him on our situation. Next thing I knew, Matt and I were in this man’s car, on our way to a shower!
Happiness is: Wendy. SO, as most of you know, last summer my friend Wendy passed away. I’m struggling to put into words just how amazing Wendy was and how enriched my life is by having known her- I wish you all had the chance to meet her! And for those that were blessed to call Wendy a friend, I need not say more.
Wendy was SO excited when she found out I was hiking Mt. Whitney last year- she had done it twice, both times as a day hike- because she’s a nut!- and when I told her about the PCT she suggested I start “squirreling away” at the mole skin at the hospital- Wendy, girl! <3!!
Yesterday, while I was struggling up one of our climbs, my mind turned to Wendy. I had a strange feeling that Wendy was going to join me on my hike somewhere- I was going to meet somebody named Wendy who was going to save my butt!
Well, guys. This man that rolled down his window to make fun of how dirty I was- his significant other soon returned to the car, was updated on our situation, and invited Matthew and I to stay in their apartment above their garage. When she introduced herself I almost started to cry: her name is Wendy.
Wendy and Hank generously opened up their apartment to us, giving us the shelter and shower we needed, and invited us over for steak and beer (we ended up passing out on the futon so didn’t join!) and provided us with delicious homemade pastries the next morning. Thank you Wendy!! And thank you Wendy and Hank!

Hahahaha I should be called Worst-Case, because on the trail when we hear about anything terrible that COULD happen, like dying in a sink hole in the Mojave desert, I automatically assume it will happen to me! Glad I found this book at Wendy and Hank’s!!

One thought on “PCT Day 15

  1. Idyllwild seems so close and, yet, it seems that you’re very, very far away by now! Sure hope that snow is melting and not accumulating and that you continue to meet – and be! – trail angels. Love reading everything and the pictures are fabulous!


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