It turned out the flapping of the tent was because the stake behind my head had come out of the ground—it was loose rocky soil, and the rock I put on the ropes wasn’t heavy enough to resist the wind. But it was enough to keep the tent from collapsing at least.
I made it out of the tent in time for sunrise again. I had good motivation, of course—I had to make it to Idyllwild by dusk, and the first 9 miles were basically all uphill. Oh, and that cold wind was only getting colder as I climbed.
There’s a lot I could say about what the trail was like going up, where I stopped along the way and why, but let’s just skip to lunch, which I took at a yellow post campground at a road well inside the Santa Rosa and San Jacinto Mountains National Monument. Despite the picnic tables in the area, there wasn’t enough sun anywhere near them to counteract the wind, so I hid from the wind behind a boulder to eat.
From there on up and along Fuller Ridge, snow and ice along the trail got ever thicker, and the closer I got to Idyllwild, the more day hikers I saw. Indeed, I was passed twice by hikers when I stopped at Deer Spring to collect and filter some water. I only had 6 more miles of walking to do, but I was literally empty, having seen no water since the faucet the previous day. So I was getting it to drink right away.
Right after this, I accidentally took a wrong trail at a confusing junction, but noticed I was descending too quickly and turned around within five minutes to get back on the trail.
An hour later, I was finally descending the Deer Springs Trail to the highway into Idyllwild. Three miles to descend a solid 2000 feet into the valley. The sun was basically gone by the time I was walking the highway into town. I arrived at the doorstep of the cabin I had reserved a few days prior at 5:30 pm.
It was a quirky little cabin. Large enough with the bathroom and the kitchen, but the bed and living room were one. The decoration was rustic, with animal skins and Indian drums sitting in the middle of the room. There was a bar between the main room and the kitchen with an outlet that turned out to be very useful. But most importantly, there was a heater that I could turn on immediately.
But it was early yet, and the whole reason I came into town was to resupply. So I hopped online to order a takeout dinner and some beer from a local brewery restaurant and then put on my coat to walk into town. The Christmas lights, the ones that were already up, were on, and the place was feeling pretty Christmas-y. The grocery store would have been a good enough place to resupply if it weren’t running low on most everything. Apology signs about the shortage were up just outside the door. I guess some delivery truck had not been able to make it recently. The upshot was that I could get most of what I wanted (including blueberry pancake mix and syrup to make my own breakfast!) but I could not find any Knorr Rice Sides. I thought I had a good substitute in small packets of Mahatma Spanish-flavored Rice that packed even smaller than Knorr, and most everything else was available (except, as I had come to expect, Emergen-C Immune Plus drink mix). I came wearing the mini daypack that can be removed from my backpack and stood just outside the door of the grocery store stripping the packaging from my purchases and shoving them into that pack so as to make my hands as empty as possible.
The restaurant was next to the grocery store, and they had to check my temperature before I could so much as walk to the bar to pick up my order. No curbside pickup here. In addition to my grocery bags, I now had a bag of food and a carrier with two liters of the beers I thought would be the best. I carried all this back to my cabin.
Dinner was hot soft pretzel, chili, cookies, and hot wings—plus those two beers, although I wasn’t able to even finish the second bottle. I went to bed extremely full and hopes of being able to get back on the trail in reasonable time in the morning.
Total distance: 16 miles
Trail progress: 12 miles