Day 6: Paradise Valley to Fobes Saddle

Trail miles 151.9-166.5

May 8, 2019

After a breakfast of eggs, cereal, and ice cream, I walked to the Idyllwild town center with Carjack and T-Pain to hitchhike back to the trailhead in Paradise Valley. While we waited, I munched on a stalk of broccoli I’d bought at the store with my resupply.

We caught a hitch out of Idyllwild to Mountain Center with a friendly local named Jerry. While we were waiting for a second ride (from there to Paradise Valley), our friends Danish, Chris, Brightside, and Hot Hands waved at us from the car they were hitching in.

After a few minutes stretching our thumbs by the side of the road in the thick fog we were picked up by Donna and Niel, a rock climbing couple who live in the area. We chatted with them about the snow in the Sierra on the way to Paradise Valley.

At the trailhead, we found the whole gang and shouldered our packs for the long climb into the San Jacintos.

Considering most hikers leave camp quite early (6am is not at all unusual) and hike significant numbers of miles before the heat of the day, our 10:15 departure was a late start. As a result, I felt as though I was making up a distance deficit for the rest of the day. I stopped only twice to snack on tortilla chips and cheese, and because I had carried enough water from the valley floor, I didn’t stop at any of the springs just off trail.

To take my mind off the series of aches and pains that worked their way into various parts of my legs throughout the day, I worked on memorizing a few stanzas from Crossing Brooklyn Ferry, the Walt Whitman poem Trail Angel Mary had printed on leaflets at her hiker oasis. The mental work was welcome, and I found I was able to connect more fully with the structure of the poem as I turned the lines over and over in my mind until they began to rise smoothly and easily, one after another, and I could recite the first couple stanzas aloud.

Tomorrow I’ll work on the next few stanzas as I climb up from my camp at Fobes Saddle (~6,000’) to the trail junction with the San Jacinto summit alternate (~9,000’). At that point, the PCT continues around the peak, bypassing the summit. I would like to take the alternate trail, which leads to the summit and then loops down to rejoin the PCT farther north.

At the junction tomorrow, I’ll have to decide whether to continue on with Brightside, Hot Hands, and Carjack to the top (10,833’). Chris and Danish plan to sleep in the hut at the summit, and the others want to join them. But they all have microspikes for an icy descent the following morning. I opted not to buy microspikes. The weather has been mostly good and the reports from the peak have suggested that microspikes are helpful on the descent, but not absolutely necessary. If the descent on the snowy trail is too dangerous without them, I should be able to hike back down to the PCT using the same route we will ascend. This route is reportedly less snowbound and will simply add a few miles to my total distance.

Tonight I am camped with Hot Hands and Brightside in a crowded site on Fobes Saddle. The wind is blowing hard, but my site is sheltered on three sides by manzanita, and there are plenty of big rocks to bolster my tent stakes against strong gusts.

Waiting for a hitch with T-Pain (left) and Carjack

That big snowy one is the goal (Mt. San Jacinto). Tomorrow.

Dodder: a parasitic orange plant that feeds on other plants instead of photosynthesizing. Is it possible to be simultaneously vegetarian and cannibalistic?

Chris and Danish crushing miles and enjoying the view of Mt. San Jacinto to the north

Lucky or unlucky, depending on your perspective.

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