PCT Day 18

April 30, 2019

Mile 179.4 to mile 190.5, 11.1 miles + 2.5 miles off trail to return to trail, 13.6 miles total
Running total mileage: 205.4
We woke up to another cloudy day, but since we had booked a shuttle back to the trailhead AND paid a whopping $2 each for it, we had to get up and moving. We quickly packed up and headed out to get coffee and pastries on our way to the shuttle.

As we drove up to the trailhead, we had gained enough elevation already that we were above the dreary clouds covering Idyllwild- it was beautiful where we were and super neat to be above the clouds all day.

A few miles in and still in awe of being above the clouds
I was dreading the first 2.5 miles of the day- we had to gain nearly 2000 feet in elevation over 2.5 miles, and this wasn’t even part of the PCT!! With the first few steps I took my legs started to burn- I thought, “shit, this is gonna be a LONG day!” but thankfully after a while my body was back in gear and the rest of the climb wasn’t terrible. Our packs were so heavy with a fresh food resupply, but since water was abundant in this section, we only needed to carry about 2L each, so only about 4.4 pounds worth!

Once we got back to the PCT, we took a quick water break. Other hikers from the shuttle started to gather at the junction, and we got word that there was a rescue going on for a kid named Dylan who was apparently injured somewhere around 9000 feet. We had heard the helicopters and saw a paramedic in the parking lot, so we knew something was up- but damn! We were headed up to 9000 feet, where we had heard conditions have been sketchy- was Fuller Ridge really that bad? And omg Dylan! Is he okay? I raked through my brain to try to remember meeting a Dylan- I couldn’t recall any, so was happy for that, but said a prayer for Dylan’s safety!

Small world moment!! Before setting out on the PCT, my friend Daria had mentioned that she had a friend doing the PCT this year as well. About a week ago I had met a man from NJ, and he had known two other NJ hikers, one of which was the gal Daria had told me about- her trail name was Short Stix. Twice in Idyllwild I had gone to sign a trail book and the name Short Stix was right above mine! While waiting at the junction, a little but badass girl showed up and I had a strong feeling it was Short Stix- turned out I was right! We snapped a pic together before carrying on.
Shortly after continuing our hike up, we came across a bunch of PCT hikers sitting in a circle- with the active helicopter search so near, they said it was super windy and best to wait it out. We took advantage of this break to have a snack, sunscreen up, and chat with Preston and Corey, who were planning on summiting Mt. San Jacinto. Matthew and I have done it twice already (one of the times was that crazy Cactus to Clouds hike!) so we were not taking that side trip today.

After the helicopters left, we started up again, after taking another quick break the throw our on microspikes– it got so snowy!!

We soon came to a tent site with Yaara (now maybe going by Tortilla, since she carries about 5 lbs worth of tortillas!), Raspberry, 12-Pack, and Coach (guys we had heard of but never officially met!) TURNS OUT, Joelle, a gal we have camped with a few times, had twisted her ankle the evening before and was unable to walk on it that morning. 12-Pack (aka Dylan!) was the one who had called for help. Joelle was airlifted out and on her way to a hospital at that moment, and while that sucked, we were happy there was no serious injury or a missing hiker named Dylan.

The day was slow-going. In addition to areas of ascent and descent, we had quite a few breaks to put on and take off our microspikes- depending on which side of the mountain we were on, we were either in a winter forest or on a desert ridge.

Eventually we came to mile 187, which we were told starts a really sketchy 3 mile stretch. It wasn’t terrible until around 188.5, where we started walking in straight up snow. It was fun and exciting at first, but got really old really quickly! Around mile 189.5, it straight out sucked! When the trail was blazed in the snow this year, it apparently crossed through thick, tall bushes, so we were forced to climb over, under, and through them. We were sliding (I slipped twice, casually landing on my butt both times!) and postholing (where your foot suddenly falls through the snow- so scary and annoying!) and growing more tired and sore.

FINALLY we came to mile 190.5, where the snow finally stopped and a large campground lived. We quickly set up our tent and prepared dinner, while we chatted with those that had arrived earlier than us. (We ended up meeting the Medicine Man, who had considered joining Matthew & I on our Mt. Whitney adventure last year- I had posted on the PCT site that we had extra permits and this random man from AZ replied! So wild that we randomly met him!) Not too long after dinner, our friends arrived! Tortilla, Raspberry, Emma, and Christina all joined us, but since it was super chilly, we all sought shelter in our tents.

We FINALLY made the beans I have been carrying since day 1!

Happiness is: being prepared. We had originally planned to send our microspikes further north, but in doing research in Julian we had realized that we would probably need them sooner. We had them sent to Idyllwild and definitely put them to good use! We met a few people who tried going this stretch without them, and they surely struggled! One guy fell and broke both of his trekking poles, which was a HUGE bummer, since like our tent, his tent needs the poles to stand up!! He ended up MacGyvering poles out of large sticks he had found and it seemed to do the trick!

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