Day 9:
Start: Warner Springs (mile 109.5)

End: Mike’s Place! (Mile 127.5)

This was my longest hike yet (18miles), so we woke up early and headed out from the Warner Springs Community Centre. I was the first one to break camp, and the first few miles were across farm fields. The sun hadn’t risen yet, but the moon was nearly full so I turned off my headlamp and hiked in the dark. It was so peaceful.

The last 3 miles of the day were pretty rough, but we made it to a trail angels place called Mike’s. Upon arriving I was handed a cold beer and soon after there was homemade thin crust pizza being pulled out of a stone oven. Amazing. 

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Rather than set up our tents, we cowboy camped on the porch, laying our mats and sleeping bags close together in a corner with some windbreak. It was warm and dry that night, though we had to listen to GQ (AKA Spencer) snoring. 

Day 10:

Start: Mike’s Place! (Mile 127.5)

End: ~Mile 144

We stopped in a really beautiful valley for lunch, where there was a water source. Usually I don’t see Chris and Mikkel after they pass me until evening, but the whole group stopped and spent several hours there for lunch. It was lovely. 

That day my knee really started to bother me, and as a result I think I started walking funny. That seems to have royally messed with my Achilles tendon – I hobbled into camp hours after the others and practically collapsed into my sleeping bag. There is a chance that this is because of my shoes too – I’m wearing Alra Lone Peak trail runners, which have a zero drop. Apparently that can cause Achilles tendon pain. I really hope it’s not the shoe though – I’ve only had one blister that caused me any pain (and a few smaller painless one), and no other major problems. 

Day 11:

Start: ~Mile 144

End: Idyllwild (mile 179)

I only actually hiked about 8 miles today. Right around mile 145 there is a trail library! It has books, and pictures of Thoreau and Whitman. It had a book journal, and even printed out lightweight literature for hikers to take with them. I grabbed a copy of the poem Ithaca. 

There is a lovely cafe called Paradise Valley Cafe which is renowned for its burgers just off of mile 152. I hiked slowest in the group (my knees and Achilles are killing me) and I still got there by 9:30 a.m. But they weren’t even serving burgers yet! Such stark betrayal! So instead, I had a big plate of French toast with bacon and orange juice and a banana bread beer. And he hiker hunger was sated. 

I feel like I’m starting to talk about food a lot. What can I say? It’s one of my favourite parts of the day.

So the title of this post is much more dramatic than it sounds. I’ve been with a group of six hiking together since day one. There have been a couple times when I thought the group might split due to different hiking paces, but so far we’ve managed to stick together. However, after the Paradise Valley Cafe, there is about 11 more miles of the PCT, then a section that has been closed for several years due to damage from a wildfire. There is not enough vegetation yet for the trail to be repaired as it washes out from the rain. So, there is a detour along a forest road, which then follows a highway into Idyllwild. The same highway that the cafe is on. Mette, ICU, and I didn’t feel like taking the detour, so we got a ride into Idyllwild while the others (Chris, Mikkel, and Spencer) went back to do the full detour. Chris is very serious about doing a true thruhike – hiking every step of the PCT. Spencer and Mikkel were interested in it too, and they seemed to want to crush some miles. I didn’t really want to walk a road/highway, and my knees/Achilles were in rough shape so I felt more like a nearo. There’s a saying about thruhiking – Hike Your Own Hike (or HYOH). Personally, I am not going to be as militant about hiking every inch of the PCT. It’s all about what you’re looking for on trail, what you’re trying to get out of it. 

Also, Mette and I went and watched Guardians of the Galaxy 2 in Idyllwild, which was rpetty fun. We’re also going to hike to the peak of Mt. San Jacinto, which is not technically part of the PCT. Personally, I am excited to get out of the desert for a little while and bag my first peak. 

So the group is broken for a little while, but we plan to reconvene in Big Bear, if we can. Looking forward to seeing them all again somewhere on trail. 

Meanwhile, here is the poem I got at the trail library. Whoever put it there had good taste – it’s very fitting for PCT hikers. 


    As you set out for Ithaka

    hope the voyage is a long one,

    full of adventure, full of discovery.

    Laistrygonians and Cyclops,

    angry Poseidon—don’t be afraid of them:

    you’ll never find things like that on your way

    as long as you keep your thoughts raised high,

    as long as a rare excitement

    stirs your spirit and your body.

    Laistrygonians and Cyclops,

    wild Poseidon—you won’t encounter them

    unless you bring them along inside your soul,

    unless your soul sets them up in front of you.
    Hope the voyage is a long one.

    May there be many a summer morning when,

    with what pleasure, what joy,

    you come into harbors seen for the first time;

    may you stop at Phoenician trading stations

    to buy fine things,

    mother of pearl and coral, amber and ebony,

    sensual perfume of every kind—

    as many sensual perfumes as you can;

    and may you visit many Egyptian cities

    to gather stores of knowledge from their scholars.
    Keep Ithaka always in your mind.

    Arriving there is what you are destined for.

    But do not hurry the journey at all.

    Better if it lasts for years,

    so you are old by the time you reach the island,

    wealthy with all you have gained on the way,

    not expecting Ithaka to make you rich.
    Ithaka gave you the marvelous journey.

    Without her you would not have set out.

    She has nothing left to give you now.
    And if you find her poor, Ithaka won’t have fooled you.

    Wise as you will have become, so full of experience,

    you will have understood by then what these Ithakas mean.

     (C.P. Cavafy, Collected Poems. Translated by Edmund Keeley and Philip Sherrard. Edited by George Savidis. Revised Edition. Princeton University Press, 1992) 

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