Day 20: Arrastre Trail Camp to Big Bear

Today we hiked the eight miles to Big Bear where we will be taking our first zero day* of our hike. We actually will be taking five days off, because we will be catching a ride with friends to Lake Morena and the Pacific Crest Trail kickoff (AKA ADZPCTKO).

We checked into the Big Bear Hostel which is full of hikers we have met along the trail.

*A zero day is a day off from hiking when you hike zero miles.

Photo: We were surprised to see Joshua Trees near Big Bear.

Trail Date: Tuesday, April 22nd

Mileage: 8.1 miles

Day 19: Mission Springs Trail Camp to Arrastre Trail Camp

We woke up to find ice crystals on our sleeping bags and the thermometer read 28 degrees. We have climbed back into the mountains and the pine trees.

Our camp at Mission Springs was the last water source on the Pacific Crest Trail for 16 miles, until tonight’s campsite at Arrastre Trail Camp.

We had lunch at the Coon Creek Jump Off, which gave us our final views of the desert floor we left behind two days ago.

Photo: A snowy San Gorgonio Mountain as seen from the PCT.

Trail Date: Monday, April 21th

Mileage: 16.2 miles

Day 18: Mission Creek to Mission Springs Trail Camp

We awoke to find ants marching around and under our tent. It took a little extra time shaking the ants off everything before we were ready to hike.

Once we started hiking the Pacific Crest Trail it was along the very pretty Mission Creek. The creek was flowing and flowers blooming.

We are regaining most of the elevation we lost descending from the San Jacinto’s a few days ago, and are climbing toward the mountain community of Big Bear. Today we climbed about 5,000 feet.

Photo: PCT the land of lizards.

Trail Date: Sunday , April 20th

Mileage: 13.7 miles

Day 17: Ziggy and The Bear to Mission Creek

Out went the coffee pot at 5 am and up popped 20 Pacific Crest Trail hikers eager to begin their day.

We had a quick breakfast, packed up our gear, said our goodbyes, and headed for the trail.

We soon came upon Whitewater Creek filled with holiday weekend visitors. After a foot soak in the creek (Deb got her first blisters today), we continued to climb out of the canyon and were treated to spectacular views.

We are now camped near Mission Creek. Tomorrow we begin the long climb up Mission Creek on our way to Big Bear.

Photo: Whitewater Creek from above.

Trail Date: Saturday, April 19th

Mileage: 15.4 miles

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