Tenting at Fobes Ranch Trail spring (166.5), a 13.6 mile day
Slept okay on the floor, there were four hikers total in that room last night. No breakfast in town, Alex and I planned to get it next to the trail at the Paradise Cafe. Hitching out of town was a surprisingly slow process for someplace as earthy as Idyllwild. First ride took 15 minutes to get, it was in the bed of a pickup, they dropped us off halfway. Second ride also took about 15 minutes waiting, during which time I chatted with two utilities workers who were completely incredulous about the trail and someone hiking it for five months. "What about all them wildcats and shit? I know you at least packin heat, right?" was the best question I got. They also said Alex looked like he was from The Hangover (Zack Galifiniakis specifically), to which Alex said, "Well, I am hungover right now." They really liked that. After awhile we got picked up by an old lady driving by herself in a nice new CR-V. She was the complete opposite, she knew _everything_ about the PCT already, even though she and her retired husband had never hiked any part of it, no one in her family either. She was just a super-informed citizen ... don't think I've ever talked to someone with no personal connection to hiking who knew so much about it.
Had a Denver omelette at Paradise, ran into other hikers there including Sam and her mom Karen from the Barrel Spring incident, then with wandering steps and slow set out hiking at 11:30. Day flew by ... I was feeling good and rested, hardly noticed that the trail was definitely the hardest it's been so far. Some AT-style up-and-down ridge walking for a few miles. All spectacular, of course. Got a good look later in the day at Mt. San Jacinto, which we will probably climb tomorrow, weather/trail conditions permitting. The PCT comes close to the summit (gets to 9,000 of the 10,800 feet) but there's a side trail loop to take if you want to get to the top. The summit side trip comes highly recommended in the Yogi book so we'll almost certainly try it. The trail started at 5,000ft and scraped 7,000 feet today, then we lost nearly all of that descending to a saddle, then down below the saddle for water (almost all the water in this section is around a mile off trail, which is another reason people bitch about this part). So I'm looking at a potential 5,000+ feet of climbing tomorrow. Weather is milder now to the point that it might actually be cold tonight.