Leaving Idyllwild I felt excited about the upcoming section. San Jacinto had just got a storm system passing by and the idea of fresh snow on Apache Peak and Fuller Ridge was scary. But we wanted to see for ourselves.

The section of the trail from Paradise Valley Cafe to Spitler Peak was amazing and I am happy to have seen it. But then we got the word that experienced hikers had been self-arresting on Apache gave us more worries. We talked within the group that maybe we should go down and take the Spitler alternate, and as a Search and Rescue helicopter flew over us, we made our decision. Many hikers after us have passed the sketchy section, I am happy for them. I’m also happy with my decision, but there is that part of me that feels a bit sad that I didn’t try.

We hiked up Black Mountain Road in the early hours of a beautiful morning. The forest full of amazing looking boulders made me miss rock climbing, and in my mind I was on opening new routes and brushing boulders clean.

The descent down to the desert floor towards I-10 was brutal. My knees were in a bad place and as the heat rose up my pain did as well. But the idea of eating at In and Out and shopping at Walmart gave me the motivation I needed to hike the last miles into the underpass. Trail angel Mama Bear was waiting for us, greeting us with smiles and icy towels. It felt amazing to wash the dirt off my face and eat a few hot dogs. Trail angels are truly wonderful people, and I hope everyone on trail gets to experience their passion for helping people.

We slept just off the I-10 and as our alarms went off at 4am we started our hike towards White Water and Mission Creek. The day started with a steep climb, fortunately the sun was hidden behind the hill we were climbing. We had learned from the previous day that when hiking on lower elevations, escape that burning furnace as long as you can.

The White Water area was beautiful, and even if my knee was bothering me on the downhills I kept smiling after every turned corner, the PCT truly is amazing. We arrived at white water during the noon heat and it felt amazing having the opportunity to cool down in the river before continuing on. The day wasn’t over just yet, there was still miles to hike and the heat was excruciating. I switched on a bigger gear and pushed on, knee hurting but my morale was high. I was excited for the next part: Mission Creek looked challenging and that’s one of the reasons I wanted to hike the trail. The challenge.

So, there has been a lot of fear mongering about Mission Creek. The following is just my opinion and I hope everyone makes their own choice that they are comfortable with.

The creek is totally destroyed, is it impossible? No it is not. Will you get your feet wet, yes you will, around 50 times. Is it easy to get lost? No, just follow the stream. Is it hard on your feet, yes it is. The terrain is very uneven, take it slow and don’t twist your ankles. How long does it take? Took us five hours with a few short breaks.

I liked Mission Creek, it reminded of many approaches when going bouldering. I think all the years carrying crash pads in uneven terrain definitely worked in my advantage. It was interesting to walk by boulders that have probably never been touched before, and once again my mind was in the climbing world.

We opted to do the Ridge Line alternative. The look of it is very intimidating and it is a tough ascent, specially if you decide to do them on the same day. But the scenery is stunning, as you follow the ridge up, you start seeing Mission Creek, then San Jacinto rises over the peaks and once you get up, you are glad that the day is over or is it?

We spent the next hour post-holing on a steep slope. But the added security of microspikes and ice axes made for safe passage to a campsite. Tired, hungry and happy we cheered at each other as we ate dinner and then dozed off to sleep.

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Comments 1

  • Nick Cartier : Apr 25th

    Sounds like an anticipated hike.I believe as pct runs you may be given a lot to shoot for(stars) as becoming more of a camper.


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