Day 16: Mile 201.7 to Ziggy and The Bear

Today was a short day of hiking to trail angel Ziggy and the Bear’s place just outside of Cabazon, CA.

We had camped about four miles south of the Desert Water Agency water fountain placed in the desert for Pacific Crest Trail hikers. Excellent water, and the first water source in 20 miles. The security guard even drove down the hill (a camera guards the fountain) to give us a history lesson about the pristine water source – it supplies the Palm Springs area. He also warned us about 2 diamondback rattlesnakes stretched across the road we were about to descend – we haven’t seen any yet but thought we saw the tail end of one today.

Now we are at Ziggy and The Bear’s. We enjoyed Epson Salt foot baths, showers, food, music, and lots of Hiker (and trail angel) companionship. We were hiker number 150 and 151 to check in this year.

Tomorrow morning we start the long climb to Big Bear.

Photo: Jimson weed blooming along the Pacific Crest Trail.

Trail Date: Friday , April 18th

Mileage: 9.1 miles

Day 15: Mile 182.7 to Mile 201.7

Today’s hike took us across Fuller Ridge and then the very steep descent down the north side of Mount San Jacinto.

Fuller Ridge is notorious among Pacific Crest Trail hikers for being covered with dangerous snow and ice, but with the dry year we have had, Fuller Ridge was virtually snow free and easy to hike without any special equipment.

After Fuller Ridge the PCT descends about 6,000 feet and down down down we hiked. We passed the 200 mile mark in our hike today.

Tomorrow we will hike nine miles to trail angels Ziggy and the Bear where we will pick up a resupply package.

Photo: Fuller Ridge and San Gorgonio Mountain in the distance.

Trail Date: Thursday , April 17th

Mileage: 19 miles

Day 14: Idyllwild to Mile 182.7

We had pleasant stay at the Idyllwild Inn and this morning they gave us a ride back to Saunders Meadow Road where we stopped hiking yesterday, so we could resume our hike around the Mountain Forest Fire closure.

We walked to the South Ridge Trail which rejoins the Pacific Crest Trail after climbing Tahquitz Peak.

The roads in this part of Idyllwild are pretty confusing. Here are detailed directions:

1) From Pine Ave and Saunders Meadow Road follow Pine Ave to Tahquitz View Drive.

2) Turn right on Tahquitz View Drive and follow it to an unpaved road with a sign to the South Ridge Trail.

3) Follow the unpaved road (go left when it forks) to the South Ridge Trailhead.

4) Follow the South Ridge Trail to Tahquitz Peak (and fire lookout tower) and then to the PCT.

It’s about 5.4 miles from Saunders Meadow Road to the PCT and it’s a pretty steep climb. The elevation gain about 3,300 feet which is roughly twice the gain of Humber Park to Saddle Junction. The views are spectacular.

A Google Earth track of our route is here or a .GPX format version is here.

Rejoining the PCT completed our alternate route around the Mountain Forest Fire closure (see previous two days posts). The alternate route ended up being about 24.8 miles bypassing about 19.6 miles of the PCT.

The trail reached 9,000 feet today, the highest elevations so far. We are feeling the effects of the elevation a bit today.

Photo: Spectacular views from the fire lookout tower on Tahquitz Peak.

Trail Date: Wednesday , April 16th

Mileage: 10.1 miles

Day 13: Hurkey Creek CG to Idyllwild

After a surprising restful night at a nearly empty Hurkey Creek Campground we continued our adventure in search of a route to Idyllwild.

We found a mountain bike trail running north of the campground that parallels Highway 74 just to the east. We followed it until it began to veer away from the highway, so we joined the highway at a convenient gate.

We continued 4/10 mile past Highway 243 to McCall Park Road which we followed until it ended at a trail going to Idyllwild. The trail follows a powerline and if you keep following the powerline you cross Highway 243, skirt to the left of a tree grinding dump and eventually meet Saunders Meadow Road.

We hiked Saunders Meadow Road to Pine Ave where JJ gave us a ride into downtown Idyllwild. Tomorrow we will continue on Pine Ave to the South Ridge Trail and rejoin the Pacific Crest Trail at the first spot north of the fire closure.

Overall we are happy with the route we took into Idyllwild. It allowed us to hike as much of the PCT as possible, and the views were quite spectacular. We were able to avoid most of the highway road walking, although we did walk probably two or three miles of Highway 74.

A Google Earth track of our route is here or a .GPX format version is here.

We bought 2.5 of food in Idyllwild and Deb finds town stops a little stressful.

Photo: A horned lizard along our alternate south of Idyllwild.

Trail Date: Tuesday, April 15th

Mileage: 8.1 miles

Day 12: Mile 144 to Hurkey Creek Campground

We reached the closure of the Pacific Crest Trail at mile 162.6 this morning and began our little adventure of finding a way around the Mountain Forest Fire closure area. So far, it has gone pretty well.

In case anyone is interested, this is the route we took:

At the PCT closure signs we took the unsigned trail fork (opposite direction from Cedar Springs) that switchbacks down the west side of the mountain and eventually ends at paved Morris Ranch Road.

We followed Morris Ranch Road south (left) until we found a gate for an unpaved road near a powerline. The signs at the gate say “Fobes Trail 4E04″ and “Road 6S05 1 1/2.”

Enter the gate and follow the unpaved road (and powerline) to a dry creekbed just east of Hwy 74.

We continued following the powerline to Hwy 74, through the gates on both sides of the highway and continuing west to a larger powerline.

We followed the unpaved road under the larger powerline north as it parallels Hwy 74.

When we reached Thomas Mountain Road (6S13) we road walked a little over a mile on Hwy 74 to the Hurkey Creek Campground, where we are spending the night before continuing part two of the adventure tomorrow.

This alternate route was about 11.3 miles after we departed the PCT. We did not see any water on this route except for the Lake Hemet Store near the end.

A Google Earth track of our route is here or a .GPX format here.

Photo: The Pacific Crest Trail is closed at mile 162.6 due a wildfire last year.

Trail Date: Monday, April 14th

Mileage: 15.5 miles

Day 11: Mile 144 to Mile 158.4

Ever since the fourth day of our Pacific Crest Trail hike, when we left Mount Laguna, we have been watching Mount San Jacinto grow a little larger on the horizon each day as we hike closer.

Well, it’s gotten really large now, as it’s a big mountain and we are camped just 14.8 miles as the crow flies from the summit.

Sadly, the PCT is closed 4.3 miles ahead due to a wildfire last year, so we will be exiting the PCT on a side trail and finding an alternate route into the town of Idyllwild. Usually the Forest Service creates alternate routes in situations like this, but none have been created so far. We are on our own to find a way around the closure. I have researched several options, and don’t expect this to be too big of an issue.

We are camped not far from Tunnel Spring, where we planned on getting water this evening. It turned out to be flowing much slower than we expected. It took about 7 minutes to fill a liters container and between Deb, myself and another hiker we needed quite a few liters.

Photo: Hiker “All Day Long” collects water from the trickle flowing into the algae filled trough at Tunnel Spring.

Trail Date: Sunday, April 13th

Mileage: 14.4 miles

Day 10: Chihuahua Valley Road to mile 144

Another 8:30 start time (again), we need to improve on that. It was day two of pain free hiking for Deb thanks to borrowing Lon’s knee strap. She’s turning into a very happy camper.

We took a pleasant long lunch break at Tule Spring.

A pretty day of hiking, especially around the Nance Canyon area.

We are cowboy camping again, having only used our tent twice. We are with about a dozen other hikers, all of us departed Trail Angel Mike’s this morning.

Photo: Cowboy camping in a field of boulders.

Trail Date: Saturday , April 12th

Mileage: 16.8 miles

Day Nine: Highway 79 (2nd Crossing) to Chihuahua Valley Road

We woke up well fed and rested. Monty dropped us off at the trailhead and we began our hike.

Deb bounded up the trail full of energy. She wants to know what the magic ingredient is that Monty served in the meals, because she was full of energy all day.

We arrived at Trail Angel Mike’s place, expecting only water and a place to camp, but found trail magic. Tom from Kennedy Meadows was helping Kushy, and they served an excellent dinner and breakfast the next day.

Photo: Chihuahua Valley Road where Trail Angel Mike’s place is located.

Trail Date: Friday , April 11th

Mileage: 15.9 miles

Hiker Tips: Get a head start on the hike to Chihuahua Valley Road, consider camping North of Warner Springs along Agua Caliente Creek.