Snakebite vs Day 29

Hiker town 517.6 to Tylerhorse canyon 541.5 23.9 miles

We are up in the dark and get all our gear sorted with our headlamps on. My pack is so amazingly light I feel like I can fly πŸ™‚
Once all the heavy stuff is deposited with the van, Ceili Chloe Rodrigo and I set off towards the aquaduct with Yorkie and Alex about 10min ahead.
The light is gorgeous this morning as we walk past the open part – it’s a giant channel of water, that is covered over with concrete quickly and we are walking on it and beside it.
It’s just a long straight road of gravel and concrete. We pass the time telling life stories, discussing ultimate dinner party guests, and generally asking 1000 questions of each other. It’s not often you can walk side by side and easily chat on the trail,Β  so it’s awesome to have 4 of us in a row. We leave messages in the dirt for the others, have speed walking races…and then it gets HOT. The only shade is from Joshua trees which are not the most hospitable trees around.
We take a couple of short breaks where Kyle and Tara catch up, but there is no real respite from the heat so we just keep going. More jokes, stories, cartwheels, random fun things.
The creek we are headed for is inside a wind farm and the giant fans crowd the horizon.
We finally arrive. There’s no creek but a bridge to hide under from the sun, and barrels of water for us.
Our stuff isn’t there. Eeps. We finally find a signal and find out Jae is in the car with it all having a break this morning. The gear was all put into a horse truck that is supporting some PCT horse riders. They are lost. They are in the wind farm somewhere but it takes them a looong time to find the bridge.
It’s still so hot. With our gear back, some food in our bellies, and the wind providing loud white noise, one by one we fall asleep under the bridge.
Best trail nap ever.
I wake about an hour later to find us all sprawled out on the group in different stages of sleep or waking.
We pack up and out slowly. The wind is insane. I keep getting pushed over and can’t step forward. The destination for tonight isn’t too far away but it is hard hard work! I have to adjust my pack because the ends of the straps keep slapping me in the face. Sometime along the way clouds start accumulating and looking pretty mean.
So now we have insane wind and menacing clouds. We go as far as we can to Tylerhorse canyon to fill up on water. Now the rain is spluttering in so our grand plans of 100 mile (well…that was probably a bit ambitious) day with our easy slackpack start are ruined.

We set up camp in the insane wind. My tent does no want to cooperate, then Jae with his giant giant tent offers space for us with dodgy non-wind loving tents (my tent is actually fine in high wind with 2 extra guylines…which I don’t have). So Tara, Jae and I pile into his party tent for a squishy but non-fwapping of tent fly night.

Snakebite vs 500 Miles

Casa de Luna – 500.5 miles.

So I’ve decided to embrace my trail name Snakebite. I wasn’t convinced at first as it didn’t happen on trail, but the trail folk seem to like to story of the crazy Aussie who gets bitten by a snake and goes to eat icecream instead of the hospital. Other names that I’ve attracted are Pouch, Onamahranarinkydink, Burqua… I think there may be others but Snakebite has officially stuck πŸ™‚
It became official when we had to sign a big canvas at Casa de Luna. Every hiker signs, and each new group of hikers has their photo taken in front of it. Someone has our photo so I will hunt it down for you πŸ™‚

I wake…when I wake. It’s still early but not my normal craziness. I’m keen to leave early to avoid the sun. There are pancakes which my vegan belly won’t eat, but I find some friendly bagels and create an amazingly healthy bagels in maple syrup hiker brekkie. All of the healthy things.

But then.

People are still sleeping. There is a closure along the PCT so we have to figure out the logistics of getting to the next section. We’re offered a ride in a few hours.

And I’m offered a beer. At 830am.
When in Rome.


So my early morning start becomes an afternoon start. We walk to the shop for more cold things. There is more music and chatting and corn rowing.
Finally we pile into cars after shot-gunning beers (apparently a pre-trail tradition) and head to… a bar. Holy crap. When do we hike??? This is the place where we can hitch to the start of the next section (so no it’s not all about the beer). We eat late lunches and wait out the sun a little. I’ve had enough and am antsy to get going so I stick my thumb out and a few of us get a ride up the road.
Once there, the rest want to wait for the whole gang (Cookie, Chloe, Ceili, Tara, Sam, Kyle, Rodrigo, Jae, Ratatouille…the gang is big!) to start hiking. It’s hot on the side of the road, and I am impatient so I start the hike. I’m also very slow uphill so I expect they will catch me.

The detour is about 2 miles before the PCT officially starts. It’s all up, but foresty and pretty.Β  I make it up and keep going along the PCT proper. I can’t stop. I’m pumped. This is a big day.

IT’SΒ  500 MILE DAY!!!

I hike fast, eating too many midgies on the way. I’m a woman possessed and cant wait to get there.
And then I do.
500 miles. The furthest I’ve ever walked. The hardest I’ve ever hiked. The most challenging but amazing long experience I’ve had.
I’m stupidly proud of myself.

And then I wait. And wait. Where are they all??
I set up my sleep pad next to the rocks, eat some things, take some selfies. It starts getting dark.


Then I hear them. The sound carries from quite far away and I get THE SONG ready on my phone for when they get there. I see their headlamps.

Hooray!!! It’s Jae and Kyle there first. Fist pumps, cheers, singing. We’ve done it.
Then we get ready for the next and the next to arrive. We sing Proclaimers a million times. We make an arch with our hands for the next ones who come in. We set up our headlamps on flash mode so it becomes a strobe light party around the 500 mile mark.


Someone has packed in drinks which get passed around. We dance for a long time right there on the trail. Then somehow it turns into a talent show. Fueled by liquid courage, one by one we all get up in front of the group and sing a song. Some funny, some clever, one original, some serious. All amazing.
Who are these people that get excited by the crazy things, jump at the opportunities, take the risks?? Where have they been hiding? The PCT is a perfect magnet.


Finally we are sleepy. There is a dirt road about 1/2 mile away. We march out, get to the road and all line up next to each other on our pads in our bags and cowboy camp under the stars.
The stars are moving a little circle-like above my head…what was in that bottle?Β  It’s beautiful. My absolute favourite day so far.

Snakebite vs Day 26

463.5 – 478.6 15.1 miles (+ 2 extra long extra ones)

Although every hiker lives and hikes by the HYOH tenet (Hike Your own Hike), there are a few places along the PCT at which one really should stop. One of these is Casa de Luna. It is the home of the Andersons, where you are greeted with beers and hawaiian shirts, you eat giant taco salad at night, you camp in a manzanita forest, you bond and make friends and you inevitably stay longer than you ever intended.

Today is Casa de luna day! I’m up and out before the rest of the gang. I was given strict instructions to wake a few as they are seeing the wisdom of my hike early, rest in the heat of the day, hike late daily routine. Seeing the wisdom and actually getting out of bed are two very different things and I can tell they won’t be getting up anytime soon!!
It’s already hot before the sun peeks it’s head over the mountain. I have “here comes the sun….it’s alright” in my head as I see it coming. I can handle a little heat, right? – it’s in my Perth blood πŸ˜‰ I have to walk waving my poles in front of me as there are a tonne of spiderwebs criss-crossing the path between the bushes. You are welcome late getter-upperers!

Oohf it’s hot. And up. And dusty and red. It’s lovely hiking. Just a little less heat please. I dream again of cold things. Cold drinks. Cold anythings. I listen to TED talks to distract me. At the top of one of the climbs is a great little shaded cave created by curved over trees. The Andersons used to maintain a cache here for hikers for years, but some local snot-face made a complaint so they had to clear it out just a couple of weeks ago. Boo.

I rest as long as I can stand the bugs. I want to get to Casa de luna by lunch so I can chill out for the rest of the day. I’m not sure if I will stay the night – I might night hike out depending on the vibe and the crew hanging there.

Now I’m getting heat -grumpy as it nears midday. The trail is being deliberately long. It’s somehow extending itself just to annoy me. Finally finally finally I can see a road in the distance. I start running down the parts of the hill that are runnable, sign a register that is along the path and eventually make it to the road.


There is a road walk. There is a little hand-drawn map at the trail head showing how to get to Casa de Luna, but I don’t know how far down the road it is. I start walking. And stopping under every tree. And swearing. And basically being a grumpy little turd. And swearing some more. 2 very hot very long miles later I see the store on the corner of the road I need to walk down.

Cold things!!! All the cold things!!!

I choose a coconut water and an icey pole, then explode my giant pack everywhere trying to find money. It’s never in a convenient place because you don’t need money on trail, right? I apologise to the growing line behind me and the cashier. Their words say it’s ok, but their faces want to kick me.
Finally paid and packed up again I get back on the road towards the house. And drop my icey pole.
I consider picking it up and washing it off, but I ran out of water on the descent so I say a tearful goodbye to it and keep going.

Finally. Finally. Finally. I am there!
There are people, but no one I know. I wander about confused – what am I supposed to do? One girl tells me to find a campsite out the back in the forest. “I’m not sure if I’m staying”,Β  I try to explain. She laughs and says “we’ll see”.
I just want water on me and in me. The shower is being used. Then it is impossible to figure out. Why is it all so hard? Finally I’m in there – it’s a strange shower and hard to get clean. I do my best with the strange little bits of soap and shampoo in there. It’s kind of open so my underwear stays on and I do a bad job rinsing my clothes to dry on the line.

Finally kinda cooler, kinda cleaner, I head back out the front and choose a hawaiian shirt- the Casa de Luna uniform. I feel a bit more settled. I’m offered a beer and a hammock to lie in. Magnificent.Β  Now I can function.


There are new friends to be made! I meet Tara and Ceili! They are part of the Rat Water Gang that are friends with the crew I’ve been hanging with. I meet a whole big bunch of other people. Fun times and good people! Yay! Everyone is pretty subdued as it’s so hot. There’s music to listen to, rocks to paint, corn rows to braid into our hair. Tim turns up for a little bit but heads out as he has a package in the next town to pick up. The day fades away and finally Kyle and Rodrigo turn up. Rodrigo is in a grumpy-ass mood as he was hiking in the sun. I think the sun burns out the fun sometimes.

Tara and Ceili



Painted rocks!

Sam and Cookie arrive. Then Chloe the third of the Rat Water Gang arrives having taken a few days off for a family event over east. Chicken fat arrives late.
There’s taco salad. It is goooood. There is more beer and cold drinks and icey poles. There is music, guitars, ukelele, singing, whistle, Irish dancing, laughing.

There are fun fun times. I feel peaceful and happy. I’m right where I belong. This trail attracts some good folk, I tell you.

Beck vs Day 25

444.3 – 463.5 19.2 miles

For the first time (apparently) ever Rodrigo is the first up and out of the campground. There is a soccer game on that he is hoping to watch in Agua Dulce so he is racing the 10 miles there to catch it this morning. It is a hot day and I’m in no rush (except to beat the heat) so I head out a bit later just after Cookie and am passed quickly by Kyle and Sam racing up the hill.


At the end of a tunnel some amazing person has left some gatorade! I’m rottenly sweaty already and after all the beer and sun yesterday I think my body is actually happy for this addition of yummy orange sugar electrolyte drink! It makes me smile that in my new trail life I have no hesitation picking up random food and drink that a stranger has left on the ground, and take it for granted that it was actually intended for me (and other hikers)!
The trail passes through Vasquez Rocks which is a cool place used a lot for Star Trek filming. The rocks are pretty awesome and it attracts a lot of day hikers, and group on horseback who stop me and ask me questions for a while about the trail. Someone calls out my name and I find Tim hiding from the sun and nursing sore feet under a tree. We stumble into Agua Dulce together and I find the others finishing brekkie – so many stops to chat today I missed my coffee opportunity. Not to worry, they are headed across the road to the Mexican restaurant where the soccer will be playing so I eat a burrito for brekkie instead.



We waste a few hours hanging out in the restuaurant, buying our resupply in the shop next door, eating random food, comparing how much food we have bought for this section, and generally just hiding from the sun. Chicken Fat and Lobo are hanging out there waiting for a hockey game to start in the afternoon, and I see Joel and Jill who I haven’t seen since day 1! They are speedy hikers, having hiked the AT last year and have just jumped on trail after taking off a couple of days.



Finally when the sun is a tiny bit lower and we’ve filled up our water bottles we start the road walk and then climb out of Agua Dulce. It is late and our destination is at least the next water source in 10 miles. It’s a hot march; Cookie and I walk together for a bit and sign the trail register randomly in the trail in the middle of nowhere. We spy the guys marching in a line off in the distance. They are on a mission amd going fastΒ  – it doesn’t take long before they speed past!


The sun is setting and we are losing light. The trail is confusing at the top and we all catch up together when we somehow take a wrong turn. Finally on the right path with the last skerricks of light we run down the hill fast! I’m entertaining (annoying) the others by singing showtunes at the top of my voice while running. Tim is a musician who has played various instruments at many shows, so he joins in too! Yay showtunes!

We finally make it to the water, but there isn’t really any where to camp πŸ™ We end up in a field downhill , with tents set up on top of long long grass and all squished together. Dinner of hummus and carrots that I bought at the shop is devoured in tent hiding from bugs and chatting to everyone through the flywire. A solid 19 miles done despite the long long break in the middle of the day!
The hills are alive with the sound of hikers πŸ™‚

Beck vs Day 20

Day 20 – 335.4 to I-15 (Maccas) and Wrightwood

My alarm goes off bright and early at 4:45am but today I’m not interested in that. I snooze for another hour and finally get on the trail at a late 6:30am.

Chicken fat and Rideordieh are camped a little ways down the trail, also having slow lazy mornings. Theirs is because they want to arrive at Maccas in time for lunch, not breakfast.

It’s a lovely brisk morning, climbing up for about 3 miles before the descent into the valley where the PCT crosses I-15. I don’t stop for the 6.8ish miles amd make good time- feeling good about the possibility of these bigger miles becoming normal for me!

Another PCT institution today – McDonalds. I’m not really interested as there’s not much for me to eat there, but they do have power to charge my phone (yay!!) And flushing toilets (woohoo!!) And rubbish bins (yeehah!!) All in a lovely airconditioned box containing tables and chairs (yeeeow!!). So for that I am excited and walk the extra .4miles πŸ™‚
There are no other hikers there yet when I arrive as a lot time their arrival for the end of the breakfast menu and start of lunch so they can order from both!
A group arrives that look way too clean to be hikers; they stayed at the Best Western Hotel across the hwy. This seems to be a bit of a crossroads for hikers as some choose to hitch ahead or take off for nearby homes for some r&r. The clean group are off to Santa Monica for a couple of zeros! Lucky buggers.
I get caught up chatting to hikers coming and going as I sip my iced tea. I wander to the Chevron and buy some random food things for extra snacks. Wamder back and chat to more hikers. Hiking royalty in the form of Tuna Helper arrives – he is on course for the PCT speed record! I can’t believe how fresh and clean he looks. He is on day 7 to my 20… eeps! I need to hike faster!

I’m procrastinating because this section looks terrible. There is a horrible plant called the Poodle Dog Bush that leaves you with a terrible rash if you come in contact. It flourishes atter any bushfire, and the next 19 miles ahead are choked with it. It is also a 22 mile dry stretch, on a hot day with a questionable water source at the end. A couple borrowy sharpie to make a sign to hitch into Wrightwood – the next little town which would bypass some of the Poodle Dog. I load my pack with 5L of water, finally extract myself from the golden arches of doom and wander up the hill towards the Best Western to check out the hiker box as I’ve lost my beanie and broken my spork. Just as I’m crossing the hwy the couple gets a hitch in front of me. A mini mental battle ensues as I weigh up the pros of the mental fortitude I could gain from this section vs the danger of no water and the stupid PDB. I’m still a week behind my schedule so ultimately time wins and I jump in. If I have to skip anything on the PCT I want it to be desert, and not any of the gorgeous counrey further north.

Our fabulous driver Joanne lives in Wrightwood and is a hiker and all round awesome lady for collecting us! We’re dropped off at the hardware store where I pick up my stikpic, a new spork, a new beanie and a headnet as the bugs are driving me crazaaazy.
Out the back of the store Jordon and Chris (the couple whose hitch I hitched in on) are sorting out their packages they just collected and I show off my latest purchases. I explainy new beanie as I lost mine. “What colour was it” they ask “blue” I reply “Northface?” Yep. It’s in Chris’ pack! They found it on the bushes near the lake yesterday! I’ve already bought the new one so I donate the other to Chris’ cold head πŸ™‚

The hardware store has amazing directory with local trail angels you can stay with. One has dogs!! I take down the number and wander up the street to buy food for the next section. I get stopped twice on the 50m walk – once to ask if I need a ride to the trail, and another to ask about a particular section of the trail. I can’t get over how awesome locals are to hikers! It’s an amazing display of community that is so very very appreciated. Outside the grocery store I get stopped by a young boy Luke and his mum. Luke (trail name Atlas!) presents me with an atlas and asks me to sign my name over the appropriate city. He’s very excited to collect a signature from another Australian (there are 2 others in his book). The book is covered with signatures and am astonished to find out he’s only been collecting for a couple of weeks.

I hitch on Little foot and Ravens hitch again as they’ve called a trail angel with a dog! YAY doggies! We arrive and  there are 2 dogs, 2 cats and a bunny! Yay all the animals!
It’s a nice chill night playing with animals, and drinking a magnificent fortified dessert wine that our angel Kathy has made. I introduce them to the magic of icecream with dessert wine (I found some choc vegan icecream at the market ). Yuuuuum!

I head back to the market and buy a whole bunch of kale, spinach, blueberries, bananas to make smoothies with in the morning. She has a vitamix and a dehydrator so we bond over food chat πŸ™‚ She has chia and coconut oil too so I’m sooo excited about brekkie. Ridiculous. But yay πŸ™‚

The night is polished off with a little more wine and to kill a mockingbird. Beautiful.

Beck vs Day 14

Day 14 19.2 miles – PCT mile 229.1 to 248.3

I’m slowly getting into the groove of these early starts and am out of camp by 545am.
Mornings are my favourite time – eveything is crisp and cool, my legs and feet are well rested and I can push out miles without thinking about it.
The trail crosses mission creek a bunch of times (this means rock / log hopping or getting wet!) and I find a cool place in the shade to stop for brekkie and collect my water. Except by the time I’ve filled my water bladder it’s not in the shade anymore! Sun moves fast in these canyons.


The climbs get hard and I push up and up, putting in my earbud (always only 1! Need to hear those rattlers) when it gets tough to try and distract me.

I make it to the top to the next water source. This one is slow flowing and it takes a long time to fill all my water – 4 heavy litres as it’s another 20 miles to the next spot.
There are a couple of new hikers I haven’t met at the top. I’m very excited to find out I’m not the only vegan in the village!! (A reference lost on the locals).

I enter a time warp after eating some things, putting my feet up and rinsing my socks and suddenly it’s nearly 1h30 later. I’ve been passed by OKTuna, Lobo, and Chicken Fat & Rideordieh are getting water now. So many people after such a quiet morning; It’s going to be a slooow afternoon!

I tackle three hills and stop in to check out the “Coon Creek Cabin” because it has a toilet (yay!!) And a rubbish bin (woohoo!). You can book it out to stay there, some PCTers stealth camp there if there is no one with a booking but the place is creepy and I march on quickly!


3 more quick miles and I am done. It’s a lovely night and chef (me) creates an amazing black bean soup with sundried tomatoes for dinner! Full belly, on my back with my feet up on my pack I’m off to dreamland.


Beck vs The Sun (Day 13)

18.2 miles – Ziggy and The Bear to PCT mile 229.1

The little hiker slugs start making noise early so I’m up at 5:30am but not out until 7:30am. There are new people to chat to and be distractes by and faffing about to be done!

My poor sore knee is quite sore this morning and upon inspection it appears I have a double knee! Normal sized knee and double sized knee. Hmm.

It’s a cool morning but by 8 the sun has a bite. I pass the mesa wind farm which has an army of giant wind power generators all over the hills, and enter into section C!



There is a steeeep climb and I’m not doing well. My poor double knee doesn’t like moving, so I relent and take some “vitamin i” to help with the pain and swelling. I’m not a pill popping fan and hikers seem to take ibuprofen like it is a lolly, so I really hope this doesn’t become habit!!


As always, there is now a big big down, which is where my knee will really be tested! I take it slow and the drugs work their miracle and get me to the bottom.



I make the dumb choice to head into whitewater preserve for water-Β  it’s a holiday and there are a bunch of tourists about, plus the extra mile walking really annoys me! I was hoping there would be some kind of cool drink for sale, but alas no food or drink available πŸ™

I head out and come across a chicken fat sitting in the water with his sunbrella, with ride or die doing yoga next to him. Brilliant. In stick my feet in for a while and it is heavenly.


The trail follows the water and soon I’m heading up up up again. Today absolutely owns me. It is bloody hot and saps all my energy. Moving sooooo slowly and everyone passes me.
I arrive at a big campspot next to the creek where a bunch of people are going to stay put. I rinse my shirt and buff in the water, fill up my water bladders and head out for 2.8 more miles. It’s a big climbing day tomorrow so I want to get started on the hill.

It’s cooler now as there is some greenery surrounding the creek, and the trail criss-crosses it all the way up the canyon.

I am soooo sleepy I start hearing the wicked witch of the west “Poppies. Poppies will put them to sleep. Sleeeeeeeeeepppppp!” But there are no poppies, only trail.

Somehow I sleepwalk into camp where HowBeard (who is now OKTuna after an funny tuna incident, which does not seem to translate in the retelling), Pie and Jugger (I think that’s his name) are all set up. I up my tent, shovel in some food, and then yes Wicked Witch, I get to Sleeeeeeeeeepppppp.

Thought of the day: always ride, never die

Beck vs The Down and The Wind (Day 12)

20.4 miles – 190.5 to Ziggy and The Bear at PCT mile 210.9

Oooh it’s still brrr when I wake up, but there is a gorgeous sunrise and some fog rolling around the pines making the early start worth it.



The trail today goes dooooooown.Β  17 miles of circling a canyon and giving the poor knees a workout. I relish the last moments in the clouds with the pine trees, and when the trail turns a corner suddenly the terrain is red and dusty and snake-looking.
I’ve got surprising energy today and am going pretty fast… well fast for me πŸ™‚

I get run down by two guys flying down the hill. Turns out they like to fly and take lots of breaks because I catch up to them (and meet them – Risky Business and Sprint) later.


Today marks another milestone – 200!!!!!!! I do a little dance at the little marker. About .4 miles later there is another 200 marker…this one is actually closer to the real 200 according to halfmile (the guru of PCT data points. He creates the maps and app that most PCT hikers use) so I do another little whoop. Then another .3 later there is a big bloody post marking 200. That one is clearly wrong so it gets no dances. No dance for you!


I take a break because my right knee is not happy, and elevate my legs for a good 30 minutes while a bunch of people pass me by. It feels good after that so I take off again, circling the drain-like canyon.
It’s hot and getting hotter the lower down I get. I try and use my sunbrella that was so highly recommended but still can’t manage to rig it in a way that gives me enough visibility- kinda important when you are on the lookout for rattlesnakes!
Around a corner and into the place where the wind lives! So much wind I have to walk back so I can put my umbrella away. More bends and the wind fades. I hear a strange loud noise from the canyon below and look to see two big rattlers fighting! They can certainly make noise when they are mad! It’s far enough away I don’t have to be scared but watch them for a little while. It kind of reminds me of giraffes fighting the way they raise up and twist around each other.

Finally finally finally I’m at the bottom and a water fountain greets me. I refill my bottles, eat a smidge and lie down in the sceric of shade I find in front of a rock.

Most of the people I have been Leapfrogging today are heading to Ziggy and The Bears which is my destination too. After about 80 minutes HowBeard arrives and I finally get up and start the final 5 miles.

I thought the down was the hard part of the day. Incorrect. To get to Ziggy and The Bears place it is a short road walk, folowed by  death march through the sands of doom with the winds of Neptune trying to blow us to LA. There is no stopping because the wind is relentless and the sun is still biting. Rotten and mean. Not fun. Not even second degree fun.

Hallelujah I somehow stumble into Ziggy and The Bear with a few extra kilos of sand now placed in every crevice of me and my pack.

I go through the sign in process, have a brief rendezvous with some cold water in the shower, and hand wash my stinky clothes.


One of my resupply boxes is here so I spend some time sorting food into piles, then different piles, then rearranging them,  then finally throw a whole bunch into the hiker box.

There is a whole crew of new people! Bushwhack,  Reece Witherspoon, a couple of Nicks…and later Chicken Fat and Dave wander in. Finally Derek stumbles in, clearly in a world of pain – he’s been having foot issues with a bazillion blisters.

There is carpet bolted to the ground covering the backyard and that is where we get to cowboy camp for the night.
There is also, however, a couch! I jump on and claim it… although afterwards think perhaps a few too many sweaty stinky hikers may have spent time on it!
Sleeeeeeepy time!

Song stuck in my head today: Pleasure and pain.

Beck vs The Fog and The Up (Day 11)

Day 11 Idyllwild to Camping spot at PCT mile 190.1
4.8 (Deer Springs Trail) plus 7.1 plus a billion miles wandering town

I have it on good authority (fb) that there is an amazing natural food shop with a cafe that makes magical smoothies in Idyllwild. Smoothies that make all your aches and pains go away, your tummy sing contentedly and rainbows sprout out of your ears. I think I *may* have built them up to be more than they are, but I have been suffering severe green withdrawal and cravings and need to get all the green things in me!
So I wake up excited about my smoothie, go the wrong way in town, eventually discover the magic shop only to find the cafe closed. NOOOOOOO!!! 😣😣 My one chance for good brekkie on the trail and it’s not open. It takes all my willpower not to throw myself on the floor and chuck a tantrum.
Instead I buy a bunch of bars and a coconut coffee thing (not even any green juices!!!) and head towards a coffee shop that is advertising fresh fruit smoothies out the front. It turns out “fresh fruit smoothie” actually means “milky coffee drink with a banana chucked in”. BOO! I sulk my way back up the hill to the hotel. Not happy Jan.

We piece together all our things and stuff them away, load up on water and head out up the hill.
The trail back to the PCT is very up. Lots of up. Steep up. But the air crisp and we have fresh legs so it’s a nice climb. The fog is set in thickly, so at times I only have about 10m visibility. It’s beautiful, a little eerie and quiet and would be a fantastic setting for filming. A group of guys appears out of the fog wearing and carrying go-pros and creating some kind of film. Who’d’ve thunk it?




It’s a thigh burning, heart starting climb but I’m loving it. Stopping too often for the perfect “tree in fog” photo.
Suddenly the fog dissipates and I can see a blue blue sky. I’m on top of the fog, on top of the clouds. In a whole new world with giant trees and stillness and clouds I want to jump on and swim in. I look around for Moon Face and The Saucepan Man and Mr Whatsizname because I’m sure I’ve climbed to the top of the faraway tree. The Land Of The Long Long Smelly Walkers.


There are patches of snow to crunch through and many boulders to sit on. At lunchtime we find a magical view of the ocean of cloud below us with a little island of mountain peaks sneaking through.

Tasty hiker lunch
Staircaae in Narnia
Happy snow

I refill my water from a delicious cold mountain stream and hike until all the up is hiked out of me, and we’ve started on the down.


It gets brrrr cold quickly as the sun disappears and the fog rolls in again. I snuggle down into my tent and let my quilt fluff up around me, pull my beanie over my ears and let sleep do it’s thing.

“It is better to have your head in the clouds, and know where you are… than to breathe the clearer atmosphere below them, and think that you are in paradise.” Thoreau

Beck vs Day 10

Day 10 Nance Canyon to Paradise Valley Cafe / Idyllwild

I’m up early at 5 and on the trail by 6, draaaaaging my feet. It’s a very slow start for me today. I’m all bundled up in wet weather gear as it was raining when I was lying in my tent. By the time I’m out it’s not somI take off my rainpants.
It’s foggy and misty and chilly and I march around the mountains and the rocks getting warmer. So I take off my puffy jacket.
I see Joyce camped in a little corner off the trail and around a bend is a w.ater cache! I have plenty so don’t take any but it’s always a lovely sight, especially after the heat yesterday.


Around another bend and it’s getting windier and chillier so the jacket goes back on. Then another corner and another water cache! This one has tables! And chairs! And a library!!! It’s a leave a book take a book, but I have none to contribute. There’s also a rubbish bin! This is exciting- it is amazing how many little bits of rubbish accumulate in my pack. Every little nook and cranny seems to breed a bit of a wrapper or used ziplock, so I spend a few minutes fishing them all out.



Back on trail for a few more miles and now David and Derek have caught up with my slow slow legs. David has the foresight to call ahead to Idyllwild to reserve a room as it is a long weekend! Good thing he does as it takes a few phone calls to finally find somewhere.

We eventually get to the road and there is a message from the paradise valley cafe for hikers to call if they want a ride! It’s now raining and the thought of a mile road walk isn’t fabulous, so I give them a buzz, but they are too busy πŸ™
Disheartned, I haven’t even shut the gate to the trail when a big van pulls up amd the doors open. “Jump in!” Huh? “We’re headed to the Paradise Valley Cafe”.Β  “I know you are – all you hikers want to go there”. Ridiculously amazing angel luck. Best of all- HE HAS DOGS IN HIS CAAAAAARRR! I’m so excited I steal one from him for the ride. Two fluffy pomeranias called Oggie and Buddy. I miss the happy balls of fluffy white awesome I’ve left at home so Oggie and I bond for the duration (ie I exploit her doggyness and fluffyness to fill my dogless void).

Finally we are at foooood! There are a few food ‘institutions’ along the trail that you hear a lot about, I get excited along with everyone but know there may not be anything for me. At the very least there will be fries, and hot potatoes of any kind are my ultimate comfort food! It’s turned into a bit of a tradition for source some hot chips after a hike at home, so this feels apt.
The cafe is full of hiker trash! (Ie hikers). There’s 6 other stinky people busy stuffing their faces. Not only do they have fries, they have sweer potato fries and a veggie burger!!! TheΒ  burger comes and looks great, but the patty is too much like faux meat (was supposedly made.from beans) and freaks me out so that stays on the plate. Plus a bundy ginger beer to wash it down! Apparently Australian ginger beer is quite the thing here.


There is a section of the trail closed due to a fire thst was there last year, so our next stop is Idyllwild. We manage to score a ride with a late 70s-ish cowboy named Gus driving a giant giant pick up. Gus listens to clasical music when he drives, which makes him extra awesome (I do too). We dhare the tide with two guys from Seattle who get hall passes from their wives for a two week hike every year πŸ™‚

Gus drops us at the Strawberry in, but we got the wrong berry and are actually a mile down then road at the Strawberry Bunkhouse. So we walk in the rain up the hill far far away. It’s fascinating how little amy of us want to walk when not on the trail. 2660miles? No worries. 1 mile extra for the hotel? ARE YOU FREAKIN KIDDING ME???!!

The on duty manager lets us sneak into the hotel laundry to wash away our grime, so I’m captive in the room for a while in a hot ensemble of rain jacket and towel.

Finally clean we venture out into the dark foggy rainy town to dinner. The menu looks amazing -beautiful big quinoa salads amd lots of options for me. Alas we are lazy lazy hikers and that restaurant is about 1.5mules away, so we stop at the first restaurant for a cheap mexican feed.

It gets really really cold and there are a few snow flurries after dinner. We leave donations in the hiker box at the Inn and then shuffle up the road with headlamps on so cars can see us!

Back in the room, cozy, fed and clean, the final amusement for the day is provided by Ivy educated David, who asks us in all seriousness “how do I grow a beard?”. Yep. His trail name is now HowBeard.

Quote of the day: “All good things are wild and free.” Thoreau