Total: Parallel to closed PCT mile 176ish
Water: Falling from the sky
So today I had planned to take a ‘zero’ – a day without hiking any trail miles. But I was still a bit uncomfortable with breaking my continuous line of walking from the border. I rush through town chores in the morning, buying food, and new shoes. Fingers crossed they don’t destroy my happy feet.
After lunch I set out with Shenanigans to fill the gap in the fire detour. The plan is to slackpack (only bring day supplies, not full gear) backwards, which means downhill, back to the store. I have maps, so this shouldn’t be too complicated, right?
That I have to to ask man at front desk to repeat instructions to the start of the fire detour three times should have been a sign. Or that yet another kind local stops to tell us we are going the wrong way. But we find Cowbell lane and start walking the dirt backroads, content that when we pass the fire tank marked on the map we are going the right way.
We have the view of snowy peaks, where the PCT used to run before the fire in 2013, all to ourselves. Not a soul is out here walking a detour in a break from the storm. Even these roads pass through the burn area, with charred trunks and stumps and barren twisted skeletons of manzanita that are not longer.
The dirt roads however, are unmarked, local names and google maps not in agreement. Despite detailed instructions we are tangled in a confusing web, not sure signs mentioned still exist – though there seem to be a few charred posts. It beings to rain as we wander a few extra miles around one complicated intersection, before finally locating the correct unmarred bike trail turnoff. It is barely a path, washed clear of footprints by the rain. And it starts right behind a sign that reads “Forest Closed behind this sign.” Luckily there is no panicking, just relief we are back on our way.
Once again we reach the Lake Hemet store, laughing as we see Mary, who gave us a ride yesterday is working. “What are you doing here?” she laughs, “I’ve never had hikers come back down before.” And in Idyllwild style, she offers to call someone to give us a ride, if we have trouble hitching before dark.
Back at the cabin, there are again cheers for our arrival. Possibly because were waiting for us to start dinner. With Nic in the lead, the others have cooked spaghetti enough for 12 hungary hikers and there is even a little pot of veggie sauce just for me.