October 22nd, 2018
Fuller Ridge mm 189 to mm 179.5, then Devils Slide and Ernie Maxwell Trail to Idyllwild due to fire closure.
Distance: 9.5 miles plus 6 miles to town
0610 – 1300
I had to go into town today since the trail is still closed for 11 miles from a 2013 fire. There are many side trails from the north end. To get back on the trail south of the closure, there is a detour on dirt roads. Thus a continuous footpath into and out of town could be achieved. Unfortunately, another fire closed the dirt road route this year. Now the only way to get back to the trail is by traveling along 2 narrow, busy highways that have no shoulder.
Since I have managed to walk a continuous footpath so far, I was considering doing the roadwalk. But numerous sources warned me not to try it and I finally decided it wasn’t worth the risk of getting hit by a car. Instead, I arranged a ride to the trailhead for the following day with a trail angel. I will end up walking more miles on the detour than the actual trail, anyways.
Overnight it was pretty chilly but not near as bad as it’s been in the mountains in past days. There was no wind, thank goodness. I had to quickly shed layers on the first short climb but the ridgeline went up and down a lot, so I had to keep adjusting layers. I wished the sun would just get higher and warm things up.
I finally found a small spring but since I still had water from the day before, I passed it by. I made it all the way to town with just the 3 liters I started with from the spigot the day before. I am a camel. Just before the side trail, I started encountering quite a few day hikers. A few appeared to be collecting pine cones and later I saw them for sale for $4 in town. This was a Monday, so I was surprised to see so many people.
I made it down to the trailhead and a parking lot, from which I could have hitched to town. But there was another connector trail going into town, so I decided just to walk. It had turned into a beautiful day, in the 70s with the fall colors out in force. There were many maples mixed in with the pines. After all this time, I still just enjoy walking. Even when the trail dumped out onto roads, I liked walking past all the mountain cabins on the outskirts of town. The only bother was that the town had zero sidewalks and no shoulder on the roads. Poor city planning.
When I got to the town center, I began working out details of where to stay, eat, and all the other chores. I got a room at the Mile High Country Inn for just $70, a hiker discount. Not bad for such a touristy little town. I had a burger at the Lumber Mill (all the establishments have kitschy mountainy-sounding names) and did my resupply at the Village Market, a cute little grocery with high prices. I decided to save some money by getting stuff to nuke for dinner at the hotel.
On the way back, a couple in an SUV pulled up and were offering snacks. At first I was confused and then they said they were hikers and also trail angels, while pulling out a box of candy, snickers, probars, and cliff bars. They even had a couple ramens and mountain house dinners. I couldn’t believe it, especially since I had just bought $80 worth of food at the store. But I had my receipt and could possibly take stuff back.
At that time, Stellar rolled up and was able to do a bunch of his resupply from the bounty, too. Good old Stellar…I had left him at Big Bear and then he pulled a few massive big days climbing up the mountains to catch up, even walking in the dark for several hours to get into town. At least he was able to profit from the trail magic…it often comes when you most need it. The couple, the Homeboys of the PCT, live near Cajon Pass and had been doing trail magic there, near Mt Baden Powell, and also at I-10. They had done trail magic for some other SOBOs that we knew. They even gave us a ride back to the hotel. Thanks Homeboys, you rock!
After all the chores for the day, I was so happy to crawl into bed. Stellar and I split the room, both sharing the bed. Don’t worry, as I’ve said before, it’s common for thru-hikers to share rooms and even beds. Regardless of our status, we are always so exhausted that we go straight to sleep, no time for anything else. This was the 3rd time Stellar and I had split a room so we have it down to science. His exploded pack on one side, my exploded pack on the other. I know that I didn’t get my 30 mile average done today but I divided the remaining miles by 6 days and I was still around 30. No sweat.