So with a 4 am wake up and no functioning coffee maker we had laid in a supply of Starbucks Frappacinos for this morning. We'd driven 1.5 hrs back to the cabin the night before but still wanted to get started by 6:30 so that meant leaving at 5am, we also had to back up the rental cabin as Magic Man and Redshirt were relocating to Idyllwild,CA for Weds and Thurs night.
Once underway we reviewed the plan to get Decaf his hiking poles. Magic Man would call the WS Community Center as soon as they opened and tell them he was going to be picking up the poles ASAP. He would then deliver them to us at the end of the day. In the meantime we figured that BooBoo and I would overtake Decaf and Gumby as we were once again slackpacking and they were now hauling their full packs. We'd arrange a place to leave the poles when we met up with them.
BooBoo and I had hiked for about an hour (3 miles or so) when we came across Decaf, Gumby and Reimer just breaking camp from the night before. There was brief chorus of "we were jut talking about you" from both sides and then we set off. Reimer, who we've leapfrogged over since day one (he's the one on top of the monument at the start) is a German who has just finished his law degree and is hiking the PCT before starting his 2 year residency. Why the PCT? He saw an interesting documentary last semester. He's a very knowledgeable and interesting guy.
We were all in good spirits as we hiked along a stream, a first, for most of the morning. About 10 am BooBoo and I were out front of the group a bit (see slackpacking) when we noticed a couple of vans off in the distance. As we got closer there was also a black car that looked pretty familiar. Sure enough as we crested the ridge above the unpaved parking lot Redshirt emerged from the car. We hollered and waved to get her attention. After a brief shouting conversation we met them a little further up the PCT were a side trail merged with it. They brought us a Gatorade and Decaf's hiking poles. Since Decaf, Gumby and Reimer were shortly behind us they decided to wait and say "Hi". Once Decaf was reunited with his hiking poles we all set off for a spring where we planned to take a meal break together.
Along the way we passed two teams of AmeriCorps workers doing trail maintenance (the vans belonged to them). The 12 of them were doing great work in fixing some trail erosion and installing erosion control measures to prevent future problems. Each hiker thanked each worker was we went by. Without them, and countless others, the trail wouldn't be there for us to enjoy.
At the spring we offered a ride to Idyllwild to all 3 of the other hikers. Decaf and Gumby demurred but the thought of being able to shower, do laundry and get a beer had Autobahn (formerly Reimer) hooked. We explained that we planned on hiking through the heat of the day to meet Magic Man, we knew Autobahn was NOT a fan of the heat and usually took a few hours of break during the middle of the day. As it meant beer he was good with that. So the 3 of us set off to try and keep our 2-2:30pm appointment with Magic Man at the next road crossing.
The day took us through a wide variety of terrain including some huge bolder fields. Autobahn is apparently a natural born climber, he saw one outcrop, declared it "a good rock", dropped his pack and scrambled to the top.
*DISCLAIMER - Neither BooBoo nor I climbed up on to any large outcroppings*
The trail dropped us down on to Lost Valley Rd at about 2:10pm. Magic Man was nowhere in sight, so we decided to relax by the side of the road and wait. After about 20 minutes BooBoo and Autobahn decided to go up the road about 2/10ths of a mile to a Trail Angel's 2nd home. He is kind enough to allow hikers to use his water tank to replenish from regardless if he is home or not. We thought Magic Man might have gone to visit with a fellow Angel while he waited for us. I waited in case Magic Man showed up while they were gone. BooBoo returned about a half hour later, no joy. Magic Man still hadn't shown up. But there were several hikers hanging out and having a party. Autobahn decided to stay there rather than get off the trail.
After starting to get worried about Magic Man, he came around a corner. The road (Lost Valley Rd) lived up to its' name. He had missed a turn off and needed to stop and get directions from a local. Then it took him 40 minutes to get the 4 miles from the turn off to the trail crossing. Not only is it Lost Valley Rd but it is also the road the DOT forgot. I have been on a lot of roads and only a couple of logging roads were worse. It was worse even than the forest road leading to the Southern Terminus of the AT.
On our way into Idyllwild BooBoo and I decided that we would take our first Zero Day (hiking no trail miles). Even though we'd been slackpacking our bodies needed a little more recuperation as we didn't do any pre-trail conditioning. I also have picked up BooBoo's cold so the hope was a Zero Day + time off to go to the Kick-Off would get me back into hiking shape quickly.
More on Kick-Off tomorrow.