Trail Angel Dirtwolf (aka Ian) stayed the night with us allowing for our morning break to include Ruth (Ian's Ford Freestyle and occasional weekend home), beer, and snacks.
Dirtwolf and I met in 2014 amidst his thru-hike of the PCT (that's another story for another time). Since then he has added several impressive trail adventures to his resume, including his most recent thru hike of the Continential Divide Trail. It was nice to have an expert around to offer advice and pro tips. It was also nice to see him happy and in his element -- in the woods on a long mountainous scenic trail.
Once our bellies were full (as if that were actually possible) we hiked on, eventually finding Mike's Place.
Mike is a Los Angeles native with a weekend mountain home that he uses for rest, relaxation, and trail angeling. He made pizza for the hikers and cut up a delicious FRESH tomato for me. We hung out, ate food, and caught up with other hikers before setting back out into the heat of the day.
After a photo shoot on a tractor (because, why not?) we sadly sad goodbye to Dirtwolf.
Our evening hike found Cosmo (Cosmic Charlie) and I bonding over shared music taste, singing songs out loud, and comfortably crushing towards camp.
Hot hot heat! Dirtwolf once described the weather on the PCT as being freezing hot. Today was the latter.
We climbed up and down mountains along beautiful revealed ridges. No clouds in the sky, flowers bursting with fresh scents, and a horizon lined with mountain tops. Amidst all this beauty we also found calf crushing switchbacks, no relief from the heat, and sweat staining through our shirts.
They say that when you need it most, the trail provides. Apparently so do friends. As one angel leaves, another one arrives.
Magic hour brought a break from the heat. I was hiking along, alone, singing songs out loud and feeling completely in the zone when Aaron came running around the canyon.
"Ahhhhhhhh!!!!!" I screamed with excitement.
Seeing Aaron was a great surprise. And being handed chocolate coconut water and ice cold grapefruit sculpin was a dreamlike bonus.
At the end of this trail section we were greeted by a classic crazy Californian who insisted that we join her in "the movement" and help with the "resistance". She also insisted that Cosmo was actually Brad Pitt and wondered what he was doing with Angelina.
As soon as Aaron opened his trunk it was like zombie walkers at the smell of flesh. My crew smelled the food and did a hurried hiker hobble over. At Aaron's car the treats continued with sugar snap peas, tahini, avocado, and hummus. We indulged and then we indulged some more. Aaron gave us a lift to Paradise Cafe where we ate veggie burgers, French fries, and had a round of beer courtesy of a section hiker who we dubbed "Name Tag".
I got word from my buddy Alex (who is out to finish a section of trail he missed last year due to a closure) that he had completed 32 miles in his first day back on trail! Looking forward to a reunion soon, maybe Idyllwild!
Aaron followed us out to film the four mile hike to camp. We took sunset photos On granite rocks. Found a cozy camp covered by a canopy of trees. And Charlie and I celebrated the quiet nature experience by watching Netflix in my tent (aka The Fart Palace).
Heat continues and so do the climbs as we inch closer to Mt. San Jacinto.
Cosmo and I kept seeing a big lake in the distance, taunting us. Little did we know that after a few hot hours we would be jumping into that refreshing blue oasis.
Aaron found us at the road and filmed our painful road walk to the Lake Hemet campground. Once we got our site, we washed ourselves -- and our clothes. We set up our tents and Cosmo started a campfire.
We ate dinner, we lounged by the fire, and we talked till the stars came out.
When Alex was hiking the trail he told me everyday was like the best day of his life. Now I understand. I keep feeling like I'm having the best day ever, and then the best day ever again.
Today we hiked 8 miles into Idyllwild.
Checked in with civilization, checked in with loved ones, and took care of "adult" responsibilities.
We even had a meeting with the mayor!
We picked up our resupply boxes and I was surprised by a postcard from home! Holly, one of my dear friends and fellow yoga instructors sent me a postcard with words of encouragement. I am filled with gratitude.
We packed up for the next leg of our journey and hit the road for a few evening miles out of town.
Still no word from Alex, but fingers crossed!