Day 10: Welcome to Paradise

Day 10: Tule Creek to Paradise Valley Café (mi 137-151.9), 14.9 miles.


I am still unsure if it rained on me last night or not. It had snowed in Idyllwild and we had a chance of rain where I was camped. Though, I was half under a tree, and don’t know if the water on my tent was from rain or the tree. I never woke up to the sound of rain drops. I did meet a few guys at the water cache who had been cowboy camping about 5 miles back, who did get rained on. I was dry and that is all that matters.20160426_074123.jpg

When packing up camp it was only 35 degrees. I hiked up the “road” from the creek to the water cache and hit trail by 7:10 am. I was not expecting the grueling up hill that was to come. It really wasn’t terrible, but my knee and legs had not had enough time to warm up before hitting that stretch of the steepest uphill switchbacks I had seen on trail yet. Nonetheless, there were amazing views.

I got to another water cache at mile 143 among the pot farms. I saw posts earlier that the cache was empty, so I didn’t need any water when I arrived, even though there was water. I still did take a quick break to enjoy my second breakfast after the climb. From there it was an easy walk again, weaving in and out from the hillside. I was making good time and would indeed make it to Paradise Café before they closed at 3.



20160426_120940.jpgI started to go downhill again, which only meant I would have to go up again on the other side. Thankfully this stretch wasn’t as bad as the climb earlier in the morning. Once again, once I hiked back up, I was greeted with great panoramic views from the ridge. I then made it to the Hwy by 12:30 for my one mile road walk to the Paradise Café where I would meet my mom and enjoy the Jose Burger!


On our way into town, we stopped at Living Free to meet Evan. Thankfully, Randall (LF President) was there and gave us a big welcome and grand tour. It is such an amazing facility that seemed to just keep going and going and offering more than I ever imagined! Getting to meet Evan was great, and he was so chill! He will be a great hiking partner and cuddle buddy.

We then got to also go meet the LF burros and Mustangs. Turns out LF is working on implementing a Equine Therapy program for vets. Randall should have never told me. Now I have it working in my head that moving to Idyllwild may be in my future! I guess I have lots to think about over the next 5 months! Just down the road there is a gym that also has a heavy bag I saw outside….Potential, I must say!


For now, I will rest up in Idyllwild, explore the town and plan my route with Evan as there are many obstacles in the way – Mountain Fire Closure, no dogs allowed in the state park, and the Lake Fire Closure.

This weekend, I will be taking Evan on a short practice hike on the alternate between Hurkey Campground and Idyllwild. I will help out when I can at both ARF and Living Free. Then I will also be up at the Idyllwild Post Office with Evan and ARF to meet all the hikers getting their boxes and inviting them to come walk and eat free food at our Event on Sunday!

Also, check out this neat article they did for me in the Idyllwild Town Crier (dates are wrong).



Day 9: Good News, Bad News

Day 9: Agua Caliente Creek (mi 115) to Tule Spring (mi 137), 22 miles.


Today I was up early and left camp by 6:50. And the morning was full of Good News and Bad News.

  • Good: I was out of my tent early enough to see the sunrise.
  • Bad: Too cloudy to see anything
  • Good: Cloudy weather means a colder day. A nice break from the heat and easier hiking
  • Bad: Too cold, windy, foggy, and misty. I couldn’t feel my hands by the time I got to the next water source.
  • Good: Added layers to keep warm, which also provided extra padding to my pack.
  • Good: The sun started to peak out around 10:45.
  • Bad: It was too warm for my rain jacket, but too cold with the wind gusts to take it off.
  • Good: Arrived to Mike’s Place around noon for a nice break, conversation, water, Root Beer and a taco!
  • Bad: I was enjoying what the trail angel’s had to offer and the company that I forgot to switch my socks out. Later that evening, I would get my first blister 😦
  • Good: The water report said that the next water source after Mike’s (Tule Spring) was dry. The fellows at Mike’s said that info was wrong and there would be water in the creek.
  • Bad: Yogi’s book and Halfmile App said the Paradise Café was closed on Tuesdays- the day I’d be arriving.
  • Good: A fellow hiker gave them a call, and they would be open until 3!
  • Bad: That afternoon, after leaving Mike’s was a heck of a windy day. I literally nearly got blown up/down/off the mountains a few times.
  • Good: After getting around a couple more hills after Mike’s, it was all down hill for the most part to Tule Spring.
  • Bad: Down hill still aches my knee.
  • Good: The Tule Creek did indeed have water. But even better, there was a water cache!

Mike’s from afar


There’s the gist of my day in format of good news/bad news. For a good portion of the day I “hiked with” two other guys (Badger and Shay). We never really hiked together per say, but pretty much had the same pace and happened to be at the same places at the same time. We were always right behind or right in front of each other. I was glad to have a little company at some of the places we stopped. For example, I knew I was coming up to a creek water source. Before I got there, I saw a sign the said water and shade leading up to where Halfmile indicated Mike’s Place. I had not heard much about this hiker spot, and if I hadn’t crossed paths with the guys at the spur trail, I probably would have passed it up and continued to the creek. But we decided to check it out as a group- a good decision. We passed each other and walked together on and off the rest of the afternoon and ended up camping together near Tule Creek. After dinner, I was in my tent by 6:45. It was both my longest day so far, and the earliest I’d been in bed. That evening it was snowing in Idylwlild, and we were to get rain. I am not sure if it did ever rain that night where we were.

Day 8: All Before Noon

Day 8: mi 98 to mi 115, 17 miles.

Today was a bit of a shorter day, but one of the best yet!

I woke up with a layer of water on my sleeping bad. I guess the grass around me frosted overnight, as well as my sleeping bag. I left my campsite at around 7:40 and headed towards the next water source at Barrel Springs. On my way there, I past my first big milestone – the 100 mile marker! So awesome, there was two. Lol. I guess that’s what you get when they update the mileage on Halfmile.



I continued on and accomplished mg second milestone – eating my first poptart on trail. Arriving to Barrel Springs at about 8:40, I came came across my 3rd milestone-an on trail Angel! I came around the corner, and saw what I thought was someone having a picnic. Nope! It was past hiker, Red Bass, with goodies for us hikers. He had bottled water (yay for not having to filter, cold soda, candy, and fruit! I had to keep myself to one slice of watermelon or else I would have eaten the whole platter.



After enjoying myself and chatting, I headed towards Warner Springs where I would meet my mom for my resupply and spend some time at the resource center. The hike was really pleasant, fairly flat and went through some new terrain, like a meadow.




On my way, I stopped by for my fourth big milestone, all before noon! Eagle Rock was quite a cool site, and of course a cool photo opportunity.


Onward I went. I reached the Warner Springs Resource Center by 12:30. I made it just in time for lunch. Then I went out to lunch with my mom and step dad to the local golf course. Definitely one of the best pizzas I’ve had! I stocked up my resupply and said see ya later. I stayed at the center a couple more hours then hit the trail again around 4:20.



I hiked another 5 or so miles until I found camp near a creek. It was quite windy going through the meadows again, but no where near what I’d experience the next day!



Day 7: Rock, Paper, Scissors…Water

Day 7: Scissors Crossing (77.32) to mi 98, 20.68 miles.

I thought my first day back on trail after 2 days off would be a slow one, but I got back into the groove quick.

My mom dropped me off back to the trail at 7:40. My knee felt fairly good considering the circumstances. My hips weren’t too happy with me and now the sole of right foot isn’t too happy either, but all manageable.

As for the day and scenery it was pretty uneventful. I did see my mom pulling the rv about 4 hours in to my hike. Perfect timing as I was just popping back out on the side of the mountain where the highway was visible. It was pretty cool to witness how great some people are too. I mention this in regard to the 3rd gate water cache and all the time and effort they put into hauling so much water out for us dehydrated hikers! Every ounce counts for every mile…Especially when it’s 6+ lbs of water!

Many people camped at the water cache, but I wasn’t ready to stop so soon and early. After my 2 hour rest and “icing” my knee I continued on. It was another 5 miles or so until I found a decent place to camp just before 6pm…If you can call it that. It was just a sandy spot just big enough for me to lay.

Despite not sleeping well at night, I still can’t seem to fall asleep during my mid day siestas…

Day 5 & 6: Zeros

Day 5 & 6:

I stayed at the Stagecoach Trails RV Park 4 miles from Scissors Crossings.My mom was to arrive to town today, though with some unexpected delays, she wouldn’t arrive until after 5.

I was able to get a nice shower and do my laundry. I got back to my tent just in time. Not too much earlier, a tractor barely touched a spigot at a nearby site. I looked over to see the ground full of water and the pipe flowing, and the new stream of water was headed right to my tent. Not 20 seconds after rescuing my stuff to the nearby picnic table, the spot where my went and belongings were had been flooded.


At noon, I went to the RV store and waited out front to hitch a ride. At about 12:30, I got a ride to Scissors Crossings from a couple. About 15 minutes later, I got another ride to Julian from a shirtless man in an old beat up van, I was sketched out for sure, but he was nice. What else would you expect in these little towns.

I had been hearing so much about Julian and their apple pies (apples not grown locally). There was one place in town that gave PCT hikers free pie. However, there are about 8 pie shops in town. I took a guess and went to The Julian Pie company, tucked away at the far end of town. Not free, but I got a delicious lunch special – I wouldn’t call that half a sandwich!




After lunch, I limped my way to the post office. I was to get a package with a knee brace and insoles delivered. But earlier that morning, I got an email saying my package was undeliverable. I called Amazon from the payphone and ended up getting connected with UPS. Nope, they would not send it to the PO. I couldn’t get it sent to the RV park either. Finally, I was able to give them the street address to the PO and that would do. However, when I got to the PO, it had not been delivered yet and I’d have to wait until 1 the next day. I had planned to get back on trail in the morning, but changed my plans to spend another zero.

After the PO, I walked over the the library to catch up on my internet required duties. At about 5, I got a ride back to the RV park. Being a woman, does indeed come in handy. On my way to the PO, a guy asked if I need a ride as another male PCT hiker was trying to hitch right next to me. While at the library, a woman came up to me, asking if I was a hiker (it is pretty obvious), and if I’d like a ride when she left. Turns out she was headed right where I was going! I waited out front the RV park for my mom to arrive with her new 5th wheel and rested the remainder of the evening.

The next day, back to Julian for more PIE! This time I found the free spot and enjoyed my free slice at Mom’s. I was able to get my package from the PO then back to the RV poark to rest some more. I am sure glad I had the RV to sleep in tonight as it was a whirl wind outside! Crazy wind = crazy clouds too.



Meet Evan


Evan is the subject of a sad story with what is rapidly becoming a very happy ending.  Here is his story told from Randall, LF President.
We believe Evan is about 1.5 years, a lab/ Newfoundland mix, with possibly some Chow.  He was abandoned in a vacant field in Hemet, CA with a bag of food.  He is very loyal and waited for his owners to return – for over a month.
A neighbor noticed him sitting there day after day, and realized nobody was coming back for him.  He tried to catch him, but Evan always managed to elude him (he is very clever).  The neighbor provided food, but nothing could entice Evan to leave the field where he was abandoned.  He was never unfriendly, just smart, evasive and determined to be there when his people came back.  Mostly he would just sit and wait.  It was heartbreaking.
About this time we heard about Evan through our SM network.  After all he’d been through, we did not want him to be subjected to the risk of a kill shelter, and offered him a place at our Living-Free Sanctuary.  The neighbor finally managed to catch him, and Marsha Hovivian fostered him until we could get there to pick him.  Marsha named him Evan.
We don’t know what lead to his abandonment, but it had nothing to do with him.  He is socialized with people and other dogs, is well-behaved, good-natured, gentle, tolerant and affectionate, and obviously extremely loyal.  Edgar (Kennel Manager) says he is best described as an “old soul”.
I know he will love his adventure with you, and can now look forward to a healthy, happy, safe life ongoing.  Like all rescues, he really deserves this second chance.

Find Evan and I on trail before Idyllwild. I will update our route when it is known as we have to make it around the Fire Closure. On Sunday, May 1, join us, Living Free, ARF of Idyllwild, other hikers, locals and their dogs on a lovely morning hike on the Ernie Maxwell Trail. After the hike, we will join at ARF’s Facility for a tasty BBQ! Please let us know if you are coming on the Facebook Event Page.

Day 3: Pain and Pleasure


Day 3: Mt. Laguna to mi 56.2 (41.5-56.2). 14.7 miles.

This was to be my lazy morning/day. I slowly did my morning routines and sat around. Mt. Laguna didn’t open until 9am. I left the Burnt Rancheria Campground at 8:42 am and made it to the Pine House Tavern/Café about 5 minutes later. Me and 3 other hikers waited patiently for the café to open. There is where I would enjoy a Carmel Latte and fill up my water for the day. It’s always nice to not have to filter when you don’t have to! I then made way to the Mt. Laguna Store for some more cold medicine and was back on trail shortly after 10. Today was also the first day I saw clouds in the sky.





Good news! The cortisone injection I got in my right hip before the trip really has seemed to make a big difference. Knock on wood, but no pain! Bad news: my left knee and hip has been killing me. As I hiked this morning, I played with my gait. I found that I was walking a bit pigeon toed, so if I purposely jetted my left foot out or at least straight it made a difference. After a few miles, my hip stopped hurting all together. The knee still proved to be a problem. At my first break, I happened to have cell reception and ordered a knee brace and better insoles to be delivered to the next town.







The first 2 days, I didn’t bring out my mp3 player. I was focused on listening for snakes. Today I brought out the music to distract me from pain. Early afternoon, the most ironic song came on – called 25 miles. Most of the song is completely irrelevant, but here are some of the lyrics:

Twenty-five miles from home, girl
My feet are hurtin’ mighty bad
Now I’ve been walkin’ for three days
And two lonely nights
You know that I’m mighty mad
But I got a woman waitin’ for me
That’s gonna make this trip worthwhile

I had in fact been hiking for 3 days. And I was 25 miles from where I would be meeting my mom and taking a day off in her rv.



Today there were 2 spots where I would fill up for water. The first at a trailhead right near a road. There I stopped for a while when a day hiker wanted to chat.  A nice fellow who tried to give me his Half Dome Permit. A few miles later, I stopped at a picnic area where I would eat lunch and rest for a bout an hour. I then pressed on a dew more miles to camp. The designated camp site was in a boulder field, and though it had a great view, it was small and very exposed to the wind. I pressed my luck and continued down the trail and found the perfect spot .15 miles down. Here I recruited two others  thinking about trying to find a spot in the boulder field to share the site with (Richard and Woodchuck). A beautiful sunset tonight with the clouds, I opted to camp without my rainfly tonight.


Day 4: Mi 56.2 – Scissors Crossing (56.2-77). 20.8 miles.



When you go up, you must come down. I left camp around 7:16 am. Today was a lot of steep descent and my knee hated me for it. At some points I had to walk backwards down the hills just to relieve the pressure. I also hate rocks on the trail – they really mess with my step! The trail lost about 1000 feet in just a mile ad late morning was bring in in the afternoon sun and heat. I was for once happy to see the trail going up on the other side. The uphill felt just fine for my knee now.

I made it to the Rodriguez Rd water tank about 1:10. There was about 10 or so other stopped there to fill up and hide in the hard to find shade. I left about and hour a half later. I was fairly discouraged from my knee and the downhill, but I felt rejuvenated after my lunch break and felt much better. The walk into Scissors Crossings was quite nice and gave great views. Even though it was more descent, it was not as steep. Halfway through, I walked with Jangles for awhile which helped pass time. Though about 5 pm I saw my second rattlesnake! This one was coiled and ready to strike at me. I backed up quick, and he started to slither toward me. I kept backing up and finally he stopped but took his time leaving the trail. There was a bush on the other side, and I waited a while before crossing as I could not see where he went. Finally, I skittered past.





I then made it down the mountain and was on flat desert floor until I made it to scissors crossing around 6pm and took my first hitch to the Stagecoach RV Park where I would camp for the night and meet my mom the next day. The past few days I have seen a number of planes and helicopters. On my walk this evening, I had two drones fly right by me. Later that evening, there were fighter jets flying very close overhead. I spent dinner in the laundry room with two other hikers.

Day 4 Stats
20.8 miles

7:15a-6:00p, 10.75 hours.


Too many lizards to count

1 Rattlesnake


Pro bar meal
Mini slim Jim
Rise bar
Power bar
Trail mix
Electrolyte drink
Curried lentils
Breakfast essential

1.5 liters at morning camp

7 liters on trail

1.5 liters at evening camp