Installment #6 - April 26, 1999 - Idyllwild!
The last call was from the restaurant on Route 74, and then I got delivered back to the trail. I made it about 6 miles up the trail - it was very windy, blowing fog, very moist air. Late in the day, I came upon a locked gate across the trail that I couldn't quickly figure out how to get past, and I was cold, so I found a spot and camped for the night.
The next day, though, was beautiful and sunny, and I got through most of the San Jacinto Mountains, and they're really beautiful! You're getting up high enough that you're getting into pines and so forth - it could be the White Mountains or the Sierras. There are a lot of places where the trail is cut into the side of the mountain, with narrow ledges, great big drop-offs - it's really great! But at the end of the day when I went to figure it out, I'd only hiked 15 miles, from 7AM to 7PM. The difference is: When the weather is miserable, when it's cold, there's a penalty for stopping - you stop and you get cold. But on a beautiful day, there's a REWARD for stopping - you get to cool off, look at the view. [Well, then let's hope for more lousy weather!] I stopped a lot more yesterday, took a lot more pictures.
Last night I camped right on the trail, at 7200 feet. The trail was narrow, with a drop-off to the east, and my tent barely fit. This morning, when it started getting light, I hopped out of my tent [not too far, I trust] and took a picture of the sunrise.
Idyllwild is down off the PCT by quite a ways. I actually left the trail at 8200 feet and had to hike 2.5 miles down "Devil's Slide Trail" and then another 2 miles down a road to get to the outskirts of town. There was an elevation drop of 2500 feet and 4.5 miles to get to the edge of town. Then I went to the post office and the drug store, and started looking for a place to stay. I'm staying in the Tahquitz Motel.
I've been tending to things in priority here. First of all, I took a shower. Then I took a bath. Then I tended to my feet for a while. Then I went to the mountaineering store, where I bought a new stove - a little heavier than my first one, but at least I won't be eating cold food any more. I wasn't able to find a flashlight, though. [He's looking for a super-lightweight one.] Then I went to get some reading material, so tomorrow I won't have to come out of my room except to do my laundry. And then I went and got a meal. [I'd have though that would have been a little higher priority.] I'm planning on staying two nights here and heading out Wednesday morning.
[Any other anecdotes for us?] Well, I met a guy from Los Angeles who came up from behind me while I was drying some of my wet stuff (sleeping bag, socks) out in the sun. He had something bothering him on his rear end, so he dropped his pants and had me check out a spot for him - didn't look serious. [You don't suppose he was...] Shortly after that, I sat on a cactus, and had to drop MY pants to pull out some quills.
Another anecdote, although I don't know whether you want to publish it: A problem that I discovered early on, especially down in the desert area in the 90-degree heat, was that I found that my crotch sweats - profusely! I ended up with the liner of my pants absolutely soaked and I came up with diaper rash. So you'd find me occasionally getting off the trail, dropping my pants, and holding the liner up to the sun to dry for a while. [You're right, Allen, I probably shouldn't publish it.]
Other than my blisters, I'm doing pretty well! I'll give another call before I head out.
Today, a bunch of photos arrived from Rita in the mail, taken at the Mexican border and at the party Saturday night at Lake Morena. This raised a dilemma: Do I present them in today's installment, or go back and insert them in the installment that they depict? I decided on the latter since, in the end, all of the photos and text will match up. So go back to Installment #2 to see the newly posted photos. This will be the way we'll always do it - I'll let you know whenever there are some pictures (or whatever) to go back and take a look at, and where they are.
I've also updated the elevation map for the first 200 miles to show Allen's progress in color on an installment-by-installment basis, as I'd been doing with the maps.
In case you're feeling too sorry for our friend Allen, keep in mind that Idyllwild is just a few miles outside of Palm Springs, one of the most glamorous and luxurious resort areas in the country, full of posh hotels, elegant restaurants, Rolls Royces, palm trees, Hollywood starlets - Allen could hop a cab and be there in a few minutes...
Added from scans of Allen's slides on June 3:
Looking Northeast from beyond Apache Creek
To the west from near Ansell Rock showing approaching clouds
My tent on the trail
My feet in therapy