Water: 2L from the Cafe
The wind gusts down Nance canyon where we have camped on beach-like area of loose sand. Two out of three tarptents (which use trekking poles for support and need to be staked to stand up) fell down in the night. Mine is still upright, possibly because of my experience enduring Sierra storms last summer, or maybe just because I stole all the big rocks.
We know another storm is coming, but wake to blue sky above. But as I hike out of the canyon I see dark clouds closing in from all directions. It is 13 miles to the Paradise Cafe, in the running for best burgers on the trail, and the race against the weather is on. I am also eager to leave the canyon because a lot of people seemed to have used the sand as a human litter box. This is not the first time I have seen people or traces of people pooping in dry creeks. It is still ‘water’ people, just seasonal.
We reach the cafe before the rain. It is all warm and balmy inside, truly Paradise (though a door is propped open in what I am assuming is a defense against our hiker stink). Just as we are finishing burgers a kind local woman comes over and offers rides straight to Idyllwild, an offer that almost everyone jumps to take. The trial just ahead is closed due to fire, and the alternate involves road walking. I am uncomfortable skipping so many miles this soon, and luckily Shenanigans is game for the adventure. We send the others ahead with instructions to rent a cabin.
At first road walking is novel. But after a few hours, begins to drizzle and then pour. And the wind is back and we pull our buffs over our faces, rain dripping from everywhere, soaking through gloves and filling our breathable mesh shoes until each step goes sploosh sploosh as if walking through a stream.
Finally, we see the Lake Hemet store, our goal for the day up ahead. But it never seems to get bigger until somehow I am there, dripping on the door mat, asking if it is ok to come in. We are warmly invited to sit by the heater, despite our dripping condition and days since last shower. When we are ready to leave, another incredibly kind soul, Mary, offers us a ride “There weren’t any hikers at the cafe” she says, adding that she always gives rides.
Our arrival at the cabin comes with cheers, and laundry. And vegan pizza and good beer and a fireplace. What is supposed to be rain has already turned to snow and is sticking.