I say almost, because I’m not exactly at that mile marker today, I’m still officially on the reroute. The fire closure was still in effect so I took the option to road walk to the Paradise Cafe, and then continue to road walk to Idyllwild. [Post hike: it turns out the section HAD been open, but I did not know it at the time.]
I camped close enough to the highway to be able to make the café by lunch and timed it perfectly. The one mile walk was not bad, there was a well worn path on the left side of the road because nearly every hiker stops here. I got there at 10:50 and they start serving lunch at 11. But when I got there, the power was off so they could not serve yet or charge phones. But the power came on at exactly 11:00 so after a quick sit (and a beer, because you don’t need power to serve beer) I was ready to order.
I had a Sterling burger (grilled onions, pepper jack cheese and mango chutney) with potato salad, a Stiegel radler, and a coffee milkshake for dessert. Heaven.
The radler was the perfect beer for the 109 degree temps that were about to hit. Its half beer, half grapefruit soda. It was about 102 at the time. The morning walk all the way there seemed cool because there was a nice breeze.
The walk to the café was an interesting experience in itself. Apparently what I thought was a kind of mobile home park among the pot growers were ALL pot growers. There must have been over a hundred of them. Some had houses, some had trailers, some had travel trailers, and some had RVs. The area had several unofficial water caches which I did not need, but one had a register so I signed in. There was one right after I camped and there was a sign for it right at my turnoff to my campsite that I did not see in the dark.
As I finished my lunch and prepared to head off, more hikers that I knew kept showing up. Robin from Switzerland showed up. I had not seen him since the first night when I stopped to camp and he and Craigon went further. They were the two hikers on the bus to Campo that I rode with and hiked the first night with. Apparently Craigon had developed some knee pain and is a few days back now. I’m not sure how, but I must have passed them 3 or 4 days back. Robin was planning on camping half way to Idyllwild. Just as I was leaving, the couple from Oregon that told me about the beer festival showed up. There were about ten other hikers I did not know.
The road walk out was not too bad. The shoulder was decent in most spots and the annoying goat grass seeds were the only problem. Had to stop a few times to dig seeds out. I ended up walking on the road as much as possible and not the shoulder because the asphalt reflected less heat than bare dirt (which most of the shoulder was, being freshly graded). Who would have thought walking on asphalt was cooler than walking on dirt. I could see the range the closure affected off to my right the whole time (see the picture at the top).
The first five or six miles of the road walk was horse country, and they had horse communities and trails all over it. In the middle it was just open fields. The campground that was ten miles out could not come soon enough. I was thirsty and had to take my shoes and socks off to clean out seeds. I got a lime soda and spent ten minutes picking out seeds. I was also finally able to get ahold of the Idyllwild Inn and book a room for two nights. Now all I needed to do was get there. I told them I would be there at six, but shortly thereafter realized it would be seven or seven thirty. Time to pick up the pace. I dumped a liter of water I would not need and headed on.
The road got a little narrower and started getting steeper. I was also getting more tired and was running out of time to get to the hotel. After a half hour when the road got really narrow, I stuck my thumb out and started hiking on the right side of the road to try to catch a ride. About ten minutes and twenty cars later, a Subaru pulled over.
It was a couple who lived in Idyllwild, so I got the rundown as we went into town. We passed through a smaller town on the way and she asked if I needed a post office because the one in Idyllwild was closed on Saturdays. As it turned out, I did need to mail a few things back to Karen and it was 4:52 so she pulled in and I dragged my pack to the window so the clerk knew I needed to mail something out and not to close early. Turns out they close at 4:45 but someone had called and she was staying open til 5. She was very nice and I enjoyed chatting with her. Three minutes later another person called right as the first one showed up. Busy lady.
Once we got into town, she drove all around it (four blocks) just to show me where everything was and which markets and restaurants to avoid. Talk about service! She dropped me off right in front of the hotel and I checked in.
The Inn is pretty neat. They have cabins and theme rooms, and I’m in the fall theme room. It has a fridge, fireplace, table, chairs, and a shower. I spent fifteen minutes washing just my feet before even getting the shower going. But I feel like a new person now. And I can finally see the blister situation. I have one on the ball of my left foot and the one on the toe on my right foot. The left one can’t really be remedied, but the right foot can.
The Inn requires a two night stay, which I really wasn’t wanting, but since I plan on being at the beer festival most of the day tomorrow, it might only count as a nearo and not a zero. The hotel does laundry for hikers, and that is a welcome investment. Only one week, and I can see now how I got the name Dirty Gil. This shirt was brand new a week ago.
After showering, I walked up the road to the Mexican restaurant which was excellent, then walked down to the market to check it out before buying resupply food for tomorrow. It reminds me of Hitchcock’s in Florida.
I also studied the maps and reroute info when I got back to my room, because I’m still five miles away from the trail and need to get back. After looking at the unofficial reroute map (half mile made his own reroute map) I found out his route would have been better, as only a mile or two were on the highway I walked. He also had an option that took you right through the center of town which is exactly what I wanted. His maps are so hard to read and nothing makes sense until you actually see it, but his plan B route is exactly what every hiker probably wants to take. At least now I have the best route out of town to get back to the trail. Oh well, at least I made good time on the road, and I needed to get to town in time to check into the hotel.