Julian, CA – Idyllwild, CA


April 6 – After a great Nero day full of food and relaxation in Julian I was ready to hit the trail again this morning after breakfast. I quickly got a ride and was hiking by around 9:30. From Scissors Crossing, where the trail intersected the highway leading to Julian, I walked through a short section of flat desert before heading up into the San Felipe Hills. My maps warned that this section was extremely exposed with limited camping. From here to Warner Springs, I would cross seven piped gates. At the third gate 14 miles in is a crucial water cache for pct hikers, the only water in between Julian and Barrel Springs which is a 24 mile stretch. The day started off pretty hot, I tried to deploy my umbrella but it was useless due to the winds. A new kind of cactus started popping up today, it’s short and thick with yellow flowers on top. Other than that the scenery was extremely repetitive, we basically followed the highway the entire way to third gate. It was pretty much all uphill and my knee was still killing me despite the day of rest.The water cache was truly incredible. At least 500 gallons of water was waiting for hikers out in the middle of nowhere. I’m so thankful to have trail angels who dedicate so much time and effort for us. I took a much needed break with ninja tortoise, ADL, Judd, and Pippin. I was halfway to Warner Springs and could have made camp for the day, but it was still only four and there was too much light to waste, plus it was overcast so the temperature was perfect to put in some miles. My knee felt much better after the break although there’s definitely still some discomfort. Once I started hiking, I made the decision to push 9 more miles to Barrel Spring, making for a 24 mile day. The PCT really is a great trail to do big miles, the grade is for the most part so gradual that it usually seems flat. Once I loose some weight out of my pack I’ll definitely be able to do some thirties this year. 

I descending down to the spring as the sun was setting. It was cloudy but the afternoon light created a glowing white aura in the sky. I saw my first deer, much healthier looking than the ones on the east coast, and shortly after passed the 100 mile mark. It’s been six days and I’m definitely pushing my body, but this trail just makes me want to keep going so I can see what’s around the next corner. I started today off in the desert and now end it laying in my tent in a lush green forest, surrounded by nothing but the croaking of a million frogs. 8 miles to Warner Springs tomorrow, I’ll probably just push past since I was just in town yesterday. No doubt I’ll stop in for a burger though.
April 7 – The day started with the sounds of water dripping on the roof of my tent. I decided I might as well pack up before it got any worse and quickly went about my morning chores. I was hiking out of Barrel Springs just as the day had become light and instantly the trail left the woods and winded it’s way through an open and green meadow. I had 8 miles to get to Warner Springs, where a community center offered hiker camping, showers, and resupply. The light and sporadic rain actually felt great for a change but my knee was killing me the entire hike to town. Along the way I met a cool guy from Wales named Jukebox at a rock shaped exactly like an Eagle. We hiked together the last three miles into Warner Springs through a forest following a stream which was so nice after 100 miles through the desert. 

Warner Springs was packed with hikers, but most were heading out as we arrived. A lot more people have showed up throughout the day and the early April bubble finally seems to be forming. The volunteers at the community center were so hospitable, they fed us, gave us Epsom salt foot baths, and basically just treated us all with motherly love. I got a great bacon cheeseburger and did some stretches for my knee. After the rest today hopefully I’ll be good to go tomorrow. 
April 8 – zero day in Warner Springs
April 9 – I rose with the sun again today ready to be back on trail. There was a short window of time before the next rainfall was predicted and I intended to take advantage of it. Immediately leaving Warner Springs I walked through a grassy meadow with the sun rising above the surrounding mountains. I was so happy to see blue in the sky again that even my bum knee didn’t stop me from dancing down the trail. I soon entered the forest where I caught up with Rebo, Kodiak, Cookie, and a few others camped out by a river. They were investigating the footprints that indicated a surprise visitor overnight, likely a coyote. 

After getting water I was back in the high desert. The sun beat down on me again for the first time in days, it felt great to have my body warmed again. Condensation rose from the ground and drops of dew beaded up on the desert plants. It was a day full of climbing, I seemed to go up and up before topping out at around 6000 feet and entering a boulder field that stretched for miles. By noon I could see the sky slowly getting darker so I tried to boogie my way down to shelter at a trail angels house who has asked their name and location to be left off blogs. The house is in the middle of nowhere on top of a mountain at 5000 feet, completely off grid. Ninja Tortoise had already arrived and before long the rest of the crew had shown up as well. We were fed extremely well and had yet another great night full of laughs. The community out here is growing stronger and stronger every day, it’s truly a beautiful thing. I love the trail, I love this life.
April 10 – I woke up around five excited to not hear rain outside and optimistic that maybe it would turn out to be a sunny day. I decided to sleep for thirty more minutes and when I opened my eyes again it was raining so hard I couldn’t even go out to pee. My umbrella came in handy there. We all huddled under the cover of the porch and lit a fire in the small wood stove. Soon pancakes, sausage, and hash browns were being forced upon us and despite the rain the mood was just as lively as the previous night. Around ten the sky seemed to be somewhat clearing, although barely, and I decided it was time to make my move. I packed up and headed back into the high desert, ascending high above the house. 

After so much down time the past few days it felt great to be hiking again. I spent the first few miles reminiscing on the great times I’ve had in the past two nights and all the awesome people I’ve met. There’s Wonder Woman, Rebo, Ninja Tortoise, Tent Girl and Central Booking, Cookie, Kodiak, Butterscotch, The Great White Turtle.. Just to name a few. I again begin to compare the PCT to the AT. The social scene on this trail is kinda kicking butt for me.. Rather than having a lot of different groups like on the Appalachian Trail everyone is really kind of in it together out here. Not that they aren’t on the AT, this trail is just such a bigger melting pot. I’ve met people from Britain, the Netherlands, Switzerland, Canada, you name it. This trail has truly been something extremely special so far. 

It started to drizzle as I climbed up, and would remain patchy for the rest of the day. It was typical desert scenario today, with most of the views blocked by the clouds. It felt great to hike in the cooler weather though, and it was nice not to have to carry so much water. Ten miles in I went down to Tule Spring and made lunch with the yellow water that flowed from it. Rocko and Ella where there and soon Boaty and Pouch arrived as well. It was starting to look dark but Rocko, Ella, and I set off seven more miles to a campsite in a Boulder field. The trail dropped 1000 foot only to come right back up much steeper than before. Around the next corner though the sky was blue and views of the San Jacinto Mountains spread wide beyond the cacti and chaparral filled land I was walking through. It was a moment deserving of a break and after the last few days of wet weather I was very appreciative of the sun. In the opposite direction the sky was completely black so I kept pushing to the campsite. It sits on a high knob, which makes for a pretty windy night. Rebo, Tent Girl, Central Booking, Javi, and a few other are here too so it’s pretty packed. We got service up here though and it looks like it’s going to remain clear until noon tomorrow and then Tuesday were back to sunny and hot temperatures for the foreseeable future. As the sun sets we are looking at a rainbow over the silver glimmer of the sun on the mountains. It’s been 140 miles and ten days but already life in LA seems like a distant memory, life in Richmond even more so. The AT is a fond memory which often gives me feelings of remarkable deja vu, but I’m here now, on the pacific crest trail. This is where I want to be, this is where I’m meant to be, this is what I’ll be doing for the next six months.


5 thoughts on “Julian, CA – Idyllwild, CA

  1. Emmanuel Dubois

    Fantastic read! Loving the detailed and passionate narrative and your enthusiasm! Hoping that your knee will fully recover soon.


  2. Shamus

    Good stuff! I am enjoying the PCT with you, via your blog. I usually read a couple different ones every season and follow along, somehow I stumbled upon yours. Looking forward to what’s around the next bend!


  3. Denise O'Grady

    Loving your description of the PCT and how it visualizes for me what it is like to actually do this wonderful experience. Thank you for the opportunity of doing the hike with you as my guide. Take care of your knee and don’t push it too far. All the best. Denise Tobin O’Grady


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