The rest of my hiking partners had already headed out from the Mountain Valley Retreat hours ago while I enjoyed a long lunch with a friend from San Diego. Leaving in the mid-afternoon, I hiked the trail into Warner Springs, passing by the wonderfully dramatic Eagle Rock, rolling plains, and a park-like oak forest. After refilling my water at Warner Springs I hiked on to a campsite six miles on where Mike had stopped for the night.
The next day the forecast was for 100 degrees at Warner Springs, so we got on trail early to climb up into the cooler mountain air. Arriving at Mike Herrera's in the early afternoon we reunited with Laura and Patrick along with several other hikers in our "bubble." Off-trail cooked up some wood-fired pizza, giving us all a treat. After learning that there was a high wind warning Mike, Laura, Patrick and I hunkered down in an "older" RV, getting a great night's sleep.
The next day we hiked all-day in the high desert, with Mike and I stopping just a few miles after the unusual Muir Wood/s stop, set up by a trail angel named Mary.
When Mike and I made it to the paved road around nine the next morning Lori (with new boots) and her husband Bill picked us up and we all enjoyed breakfast at the Paradise Valley Cafe.
Lori, Mike and I got back on trail, climbing up into fields of huge boulders until we stopped at a perfect campsite protected by the wind. We had to get off trail soon because of a PCT closure up ahead due to the Mountain Fire of a few years ago. Lori and I went on to Fobes Ranch Trail then hiked down to highway 74. Mike hiked two miles further to the closure and hiked down Spitler Peak Trail. From there we all hitched into Idyllwild and enjoyed a cooked meal.
Patrick and Laura were already set up at the State Park Campground, having hitched into Idyllwild from the Paradise Valley Cafe to take care of blisters. About twenty thru-hikers were at the campground -- read it was a party. Giggles and Mike bought hot dogs and beer showed up from somewhere, so everyone had fun until late, meaning about 7:30 PM.
The next morning Lori, Patrick, Laura and I went up the Deer Springs Trail while Mike went up the Devil's Slide Trail to get back to the PCT. This is a huge climb so early in the hike, and even the main trail hits 9,000 feet, adding altitude to the mix. Lori and I hiked past Fuller Ridge to a slightly sheltered campsite. Mike, Laura, and Patrick summited Mt. San Jacinto so they all pitched up on Fuller Ridge.
The following day we all stumped down the north side of the mountain until reaching I-10, where Lori's sister-in-law Diane was waiting to whisk all five of us to her family's house. As the hikers cleaned up, Diane whipped up spaghetti and meatballs with a huge salad. We all felt luxuriously satisfied, drifting off inside an actual building. We will take a zero day here and hike on to Big Bear next.
Here's a link to the photos for this section: