Julian to Idyllwild – days 7-11

Settling in 

After my first zero in Julian, I was starting to realize what I love about backpacking so much: control.

I like that on trail everything is up to you. How far do you want to walk, when and where do you want to take a break, where to pitch your tent, you don’t need permission to go to the bathroom, you control how you use and manage your food and water.

As a hiker going into town it feels suddenly restricting. You become very dependent on other people for rides, finding, booking, and paying for a place to stay (that may be even less comfortable than your tent), waiting to use a public restroom, asking permission to fill your water bottle.

All of this is to say, I was getting very antsy to be back on trail after a day and a half in Julian.


Day 7: 15.9 miles 

Scissors crossing (77.3) to mile 93.2

April 1st

Alex and I caught a hitch back down to Scissors Crossing out of Julian Monday morning, roaring to hit the trail. When I again connected with the PCT under the bridge, I was thankful for the change in weather conditions from when I had been there less than 48 hours before. Monday was a bright, sunny day to contrast with the terrible wind and rain storm that I had arrived in.

An ocotillo plant on trail coming out of Scissors Crossing.

Only about a mile down the trail, I started to see some of the positives of the recent rain storm. I turned a bend in the trail to see these giant, skinny, wavy green plants that were so unlike anything I had seen before. They had small spines, so I wondered if they were somehow a type of cactus – but turns out they are not related.

These plants are called Ocotillo. From what I read, they are not a very common plant which is why I had never seen them before. They apparently only perk up and turn green for a few days after a recent rain event, so I was actually fortunate with my weather window.

The first few miles out of Scissors Crossing was some of the densest, and also most diverse, cacti population that I have seen on trail. I wish I could name all of the varieties, but for now, I just stop to take pictures of each new one that I find.

We had been lucky that the recent rain and snow in California had resulted in plentiful water sources and short water carries up until this point. Coming out of Julian, the trail is waterless for almost 24 miles. Although, thanks to the kindness of some trail angels, this carry is cut in half (roughly “half” 14/10) thanks to a water cache just a quarter mile off trail.

After making it 14 miles that day to the water cache, many people decided to camp close by along the side trail. We decided to push just a couple miles further down the trail to find a less crowded camping space.

Day 8: 18 miles

93.2 to 111.2

It only took a few hours to make our way this morning to mile 100! I passed the 100 scrawled in the dirt with Alex and a new friend, Hard Start.

Alex and Hard Start posing at mile 100

Around midday we made our way down to some water just before a road. As we sat there filtering it and taking a break, Hard Start looped back to let us know there was a trail “magician” (they’re generally known as angels, but honestly magician makes sense too) at the road.

We were pleasantly surprised to find Bad Santa, a well known Julian area trail angel, handing out beers, sodas, and snacks.

We then found ourselves in one of the flattest sections of trail yet, meandering through open pasture and rolling hills. The trail took us directly to one of the coolest rock formations you can see on the PCT, Eagle Rock.

Eagle Rock!

We wrapped the day up at an old, abandoned campground under some oaks. There was a stream not far from camp so we enjoyed a crisp foot soak as we filtered water. I had started to develop my first blister between my big and second toe, so the cool water felt good on it.

Day 9: 20.3 miles

111.2 to 131.5

After reaching the 100 mile marker and Eagle Rock the day before, this day passed with less landmarks to show for it. It was getting fairly hot, but we kept a steady pace and stayed hydrated.

I was getting really familiar with the other hikers around me on trail. I have a few friends that I am starting to get close with, and we will sometimes walk together and chat for long periods of time. There are other hikers that I am friendly with and say “hey” whenever one of us stops for a snack or to filter water, but we walk at different paces.

It has been so interesting to meet so many people from so many walks of life, and yet we’re all out here attempting to reach the same goal. I have found that meeting and getting to know people is probably my favorite thing about being on the PCT.

On days like today, where the scenery was a little less scenic, at least I can look forward to leap-frogging with my friends.

Day 10: 20.3 miles

131.5 to 151.8 PVC

We camped just 20 miles out from Paradise Valley Cafe so that the day would be a steady push into town before the storm that was set to arrive in the evening.

Numerous hikers all stopped at a popular water cistern to filter water.

I enjoyed the clear, blue skies in the morning – even though it was a little toasty. I stopped at a water cistern to filter water, which was a popular spot on this hot day! I think there was almost 20 of us there at once. We were once again “bubbled” up as we all had the same goal to make town before the storm.

Clouds rapidly rolled in around 3 or 4 in the afternoon, but all was made well as I found myself with a burger and beer in hand shortly before 6. Once our bellies were full, Alex, Hard Start, and I caught a hitch into Idyllwild to our hotel we had booked for the weekend.

Enjoying beers and burgers with Alex, Links, and Annette.

Day 11: 0! Idyllwild

Another (weather) forced zero in another lovely mountain town.

We first had chores to accomplish: showers, laundry, head to the outfitter if any new gear is needed, resupply at the grocery store. And once all of that was accomplished, we were able to play a bit of tourist in the cute town that Idyllwild is.

The very best part, they have a golden retriever for a mayor. He didn’t come out until 4 so I patiently waited all day for the opportunity to meet Mayor Max and it did not disappoint.

Alex, Hard Start, and I posing with Mayor Max.

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