Desert Dreaming: Idyllwild to Julian


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(Ahead of me I saw a bunch of cows on the trail. As Puff Puff tried to get by them, they started following her. Why?  Normally cows just look at you with their lovely faces as you scoot by, then return to their foraging.  Beautiful creatures, this herd.  When I got to them, I just babbled idle threats about hamburgers to let them know I wouldn’t tolerate any bovine hijinks and they didn’t follow me.)

Off season in Idyllwild is tough on thru hikers. Some restaurants, the Bakery and Nomad Adventures are closed mid-week. On the other hand, this is such a hiker friendly community, that I got a ride to town from the first people I saw at the Devil’s Slide trailhead.  And while eating dinner at the Mexican restaurant, a woman at the next table called to us “Thru hikers?  I’m a trail angel!”  Without missing a beat, Puff Puff said something like, “Awesome, do you give rides?”  And just like that Stacy agreed to pick us up st 7:30 the next morning.

You may not know this, but Puff Puff likes the worst reality shows on Earth.  But good stuff like “The Walking Dead” makes her shudder.  Anyhow Idyllwild Inn was restful with plenty of time for dumb TV shows, shopping for food, resting and eating good restaurant fare.

Water sources again.  Unlike the hike up the squiggles on my birthday, I did not dread hiking from Idyllwild to Highway 78, a 4 day, 3 night section.  The trail is graded beautifully and the desert changes subtly as you gain or lose elevation.  No matter where I roam, I love open country, whether the alpine above tree line in the North Cascades, burn areas in Oregon, or desert in Southern California.  Like being on the ocean, the vastness and ability to see sky and space makes me feel safe and invisible somehow.

We hiked about 19 miles with another 5 to water the next morning, a water tank provided by Mike Herrera.  Day 2 we camped at Warner Springs Resource Center– a shortish day because why push on carrying water if it didn’t save an entire day to the next resupply, just a few miles?-by a chain link fence, a trash can and a running water bathroom.  I used earplugs to block the traffic noise, hey it’s pretty civilized wilderness down here.  We hiked out the next morning wearing all our layers, it was literally freezing!  Of course we start before the sun’s up. There was water in a spring that our water report said was marginal, but it looked fine except for the wasps or bees or whatever that swarmed.  Glad I didn’t need to collect water.  We wound uphill for several hours then down and around and along the hills on perfect trail, collecting camping water at a cache, before camping in a dry wash after 22 miles. A warm night, quiet, with just a gentle tinkle of rain towards morning, just enough to settle the dust on the trail to our last, I think, resupply stop in Julian.

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A storm is predicted for tomorrow so we will decide what to do in the morning.  Rain, high winds.  But we just want to hit the trail and make our way south.

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