Desert Hiking: Early Starts, Long Water Carries, and Paradise at Paradise Valley Cafe

It’s been awhile…

I haven’t posted for months. Nick and I got off of the trail yesterday. I found it difficult to keep up with blogging while hiking. I did, however, take notes on my phone and pictures along the way. I’d like to document my journey through this blog post-hike to share the stories with my friends and family, and also to have a record for myself.

Setting the alarm for 4am

After our brutal hike out of Julian, Nick and I agreed that it would be easier to hike in the morning when the sun wasn’t quite as intense. We had just over 12 miles and 2,600 feet of ascent to our next water source. Waking up early made the climb and the distance so much easier to tackle! We even had extra water to spare when we made it to the next water source, Mike’s place.

In this stretch of the trail there was no water available at streams and we relied completely on trail angels to provide water. Mike had a few large metal drums of water that he put on his property for thru-hikers. I am so, so grateful to Trail Angels like Mike for making the trek possible! It would have been basically impossible for us to complete this section without his help.

We saw Mary and Joey at Mike’s place. We met another thru-hiker there named Kyla. She had started a few days before us, but had some mishaps on the trail that had slowed her down.

Nick and I rested and refilled water at Mike’s place, and then we decided to continue on for another 4 miles. The next viable water source after Mike’s place was 18 miles ahead at another Trail Angel’s home, Mary’s Oasis. We were exhausted during the hike, but it was worth it to get a little closer. We found a nice little spot next to the trail and set up camp for the night. We set our alarm for 4am.

Happy to be hiking in the morning

The next day’s hike was easy in the cool temperature of the morning. However, it heated up pretty quickly and I started to struggle toward the end. We encountered a rattlesnake in the trail just 3 miles short of Mary’s Oasis. The trail was narrow and there was no way around it, so we took a break to let it pass. Once we got going again, I was REALLY slow. It was hot, and I was thirsty. I wasn’t quite out of water, but I was rationing it.

Mary’s Oasis

I was so relieved to get to Mary’s Oasis. Mary had set up a big plastic drum of water on her property, along with some picnic tables and a shaded overhang. She allowed campers to stay there overnight, and we decided that we would stay. We hung out on the picnic tables drinking water under the shade, recovering. We both had hot, tired brain.

A little while later, some familiar hiker faces showed up. Nick brought the game “pigs” to play at camp. It’s a simple game with two pig dice. You roll the pigs, and depending on their orientation, you get points. The first person to get 100 points wins. We got into a rowdy game of pigs with some of our thru hiker buddies.

Paradise Valley Cafe

The next day we set out for Paradise Valley Cafe! It’s a restaurant about 1 mile off the trail at mile marker 151. Nick and I were super excited to get coffee and food. The day started off with us sleeping great! We slept through the 4 am alarm and got up at 5 am. (Nick later admitted that he woke up for the alarm but ignored it). We packed up our stuff and were on the trail by 6:30am.

We had 6.5 miles and 1100 feet of elevation to get to the road that led to Paradise Valley Cafe. We didn’t eat anything that morning and started to get hangry during our hike. We kept on going with the dream of coffee, food, and internet in our minds.

150 miles down!

We reached the 150 mile mark and knew we were close! We got to the road and were able to hitch to the cafe, arriving around 10am. It was an embarrassingly short ride, but we were grateful for the lift. Mary, Joey, and Jessica were already at the cafe and had arranged a hitch into Idyllwild. Mary and Joey were planning to take a zero day, while Jessica was picking up a new backpack. They all hung out with us for a bit while we drank coffee and ate our food.

The server at Paradise Valley Cafe was SO NICE to us! She told us that we were welcome to hang out as long as we’d like and let us charge our electronics. We had my mom ship a resupply package there and we opened it on the table. I was excited for my new beanie, gloves, homemade dehydrated meals, and Trader Joe’s snacks!

We hung out for about 4 hours before continuing along on the trail. We ate, used the internet, paid our last water bill, sorted through our package, chatted to folks around us, and ordered a travel bidet. We then hiked about 5 miles up to a wonderful spot under pines trees and a small stream. We ate the chili Nick’s mom prepared for us, did some stretching, and then slept for the night.

Cooking Nick’s mum’s chili

Our cute little spot under the trees

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