Day 15 – Friday April 28
Mile 159.7 to Hurkey Creek Park
PCT Miles hiked today : 6.9
PCT Mountain Fire Alternate Route Miles hiked today : 9.7
Feet Ascended Today: 1277
Feet Descended Today: 3212
Current Elevation: 4367
Today was one of my favorite days on the PCT so far. The views on this stretch of the PCT were magnificent! I am so glad I didn’t skip this section.
I knew that today’s hike would feature a significant descent which tends to trigger my foot pain, so I proactively took some Ibuprofen before I left camp. I planned to walk slowly, stretch, and take frequent breaks. And it worked! My feet didn’t really hurt at all today! This was very encouraging.
I hiked out of camp alone this morning and the path immediately started climbing to about 7000 feet. Wow! The views from up here were absolutely stunning. This is the highest elevation that I’ve ever hiked to before. I took a panorama picture and posted it to Facebook. It was pointed out to me afterwards that, if you look closely, two glowing eyes are staring at me from the bushes. Ha! Creepy! I had no idea when I took the photo.
Soon I entered the beginning of the burn area from the wildfire a few years back. Many of the trees had died and were gnarled and blackened. New life was evident everywhere I looked however. It was a really beautiful section of trail and I was glad not to have missed it.
As I hiked, I could see some mountains up ahead with snow just barely visible on the top. Could that be Mt. San Jacinto? I would be hiking through that part of the trail after taking a day off in the town of Idyllwild.
Since I was hiking by myself today, I had my headphones in and I was enthusiastically singing along to the Beatles. It made for a fun morning. At mile 166.6, I reached the junction to Fobes Ranch Trail, which marked the official beginning to the fire closure. So I bid goodbye to the PCT and exited on the side trail.
The Mountain Fire Alternate routed PCT hikers on the Fobes Ranch Trail for a couple of miles and then along some old forest service roads. It was a hot day and there wasn’t much cloud cover – not the most inspirational of walks. But it was still beautiful being up in the mountains. I had met a couple of other PCT hikers, OneDay and Sunkist, earlier in the day and we leapfrogged eachother through this section.
Eventually the Mountain Fire Alternate routed PCT hikers along the shoulder of highway 74 for a couple of miles. This was the worst part of the hike and the most dangerous. Cars whizzed past at 60 miles per hour. I walked as far away from the road as I could get.
Eventually I made to to the Lake Hemet grocery store and stopped inside for a pulled pork quesadilla. Potato Volcano, Apocalypse, and Josh sitting on the deck so I joined them for dinner. They call themselves the Slo-Bo Gang, which is a play on PCT term “No-Bo” (PCT hikers heading in the Northbound direction) or “So-Bo” (Southbound-headed PCT hikers). Personally I don’t think they hike slow at all, as I’m hiking at about the same speed LOL :). They invited me to join their gang, so now I’m also an official Slo-Bo Member. Woop woop!
We hiked a half mile further to the Hurkey Creek Park Campground which offers free camping to PCT hikers. The campground provides showers (yay!) and we camped in a grassy field near the bathrooms. We met some other hikers there and it was a fun evening of relaxed cameraderie as we listened to music around the picnic table.
While at dinner we came up with a Trail Name for Josh: Alladin. We came up with this name because he tells funny stories and we joked that he liked to bring us into his world. This, of course, made us think of the theme song from Alladin “I can show you the world …”. And he likes the name. It fits him. So he is Alladin now.