I hiked down to Highway 18 at about noon today, and it took only about 15 minutes to get a ride down to Big Bear City. The lady delivered me right to the door of Nature's Inn, where I'm staying.
The hike is continuing to go very well. My knees and feet are doing great. I really like my shoes, they are a perfect fit for me. My equipment has been peforming well too with one exception.
I hiked out of Idyllwild and was soon back into the deep snow. I found a bare place to camp and when I was chopping snow to use for cooking my ULA Ice Axe broke!! I couldn't believe it. I had stopped early in the afternoon so I spent a couple of hours making a very servicable repair. The next day was a long one of traversing the famously steep Fuller Ridge. I'd bought micro-spikes for traction and by using caution and by doing lots of map reading and floundering around by the end of the day the Saddle Junction to Fuller Ridge traverse was completed. And I was glad.
I camped by a giant boulder and had an excellent sleep. The next day could hardly have been more different. For hours there was an "endless" descent with a series of countless switchbacks. From the deep snows to baking heat. From big trees to cactus. Half way down I ran across a wildfire. It had been started by a PCT hiker, as I had feared, a fellow I had met many times along the trail. He was using a cook stove, and the high winds just blew the flames into nearby grass and the wildfire raced up the hill. He reported it and identified himself, an honorable man. For me it was a "collision of worlds" when I came through the smoking fire as both a PCT hiker and a recently retired firefighter. The sound of aircraft and the smell of smoke and the crews were all very familiar.
The trail goes through the underpass at Interstate 10. There, a hiker from the 2006 Class of PCT Thru-hikers, trail name "Chai Man," had a keg of beer! The hikers acted with remarkable constraint. ANOTHER Trail Angel, Dave, also showed up, and drove four of us to the A&W a few miles away, where we all bought ourselves a huge meal. The icy rootbeers in that heat were awesome. That eveing, I hiked to the Mesa Wind Farm, where they kindly allow hikers to get drinking water. I could see desert, dozens of wind turbines, and snowy mountains from my sleeping bag. Nearly every night I just roll out my sleeping pad and bag in a nice looking spot so camping is easy!
There was another day of very scenic desert hiking, then I climbed thousands of feet back up into the snowy mountains. There was some more easily crossed snow patches. The afternoon became windy, and I actually moved camp after it became intense. I found a place in thick scrub oak on the lee side of the ridge. It froze last night and that with the wind called for my down jacket, balaclava and long underwear in my sleeping bag.
This is a nice place to stay. I'm splitting a room with two fellow hikers, Old Scout and Danny. I got a giant burger, did my laundry, got partially caught up on email, and still have shopping and other chores to do.
I'm still ahead of schedule. There's big snow ahead in the Sierras so I don't want to go any faster, but want to give it plenty of time to melt.