Day Eleven

Today's miles: 14
Total miles: 151

I was sore waking up, but otherwise felt much better. Something magical happened to the weather today: it was overcast! There were rumors of rain tomorrow, but in the meantime the temperatures were cool, the sky was gray, and the sun was hiding. I never thought I would be so happy for such poor conditions. But though I have spent my whole life in hot, Southern conditions, I do much better in cold weather. Heat drains me, exhausts me. Cold weather is revitalizing and therapeutic, and wonderful to hike in.

Since we had no need to beat the sun, we slept in until 6 and we were on the trail at 7. I was in good spirits, enjoying the cool breeze and feeling stronger than I have in a while. We all had a goal today: cover 15 miles to make it to the Paradise Cafe, a diner one mile off the trail and near the town of Idyllwild. The call of real food was strong, and we were feeling strong.

There was a water cache at the ten mile mark, so we stopped to sign the register, fill up and take a break with Lunchbox, Cookie Monster, Rub-a-Dub, Jesse, Tumbleweed, Sneaks, Coincidence, and Hitch. Lunchbox kept singing, "I've got.... two liters to Paradise! Won't you pack your bags, we'll leave tonight!"

Lunchbox enjoying the water cache

When we got to mile 15, two trail angels named Tarzan and One Pint had set up a tent with margaritas, fruit and vegetable platters. Heaven! The wind had picked up and the temperature dropped, but though everyone else had a coat on, I was loving it.

The storms coming through tomorrow sounded nasty, so while we grabbed big burgers at Paradise Cafe, we debated staying in Idyllwild for the night. The boys decided they wanted to slack pack 30 miles tomorrow (ie, leave their packs in a hotel room and hike without them) since there are two entries to Idyllwild, 30 mile apart on the PCT. The rest of us just wanted to hike out tomorrow, but either way, we needed a room.

An hour later nine of us were the proud renters of a large cabin at the Idyllwild Inn: Katie, me, Wocka Wocka, Giddyup, Sneaks, Coincidence, Lunchbox, Hitch, and Bob. It was a great place and we were ecstatic to have showers, laundry and a place to call our own.

Lunchbox, Sneaks and Coincidence (who we like to call the Three Amigos) plotted out their slack pack tomorrow with Cookie Monster and his crew while the rest of us watched bad TV and passed around a pint of ice cream. The Idyllwild Inn was filling up with hikers, so everywhere we looked we saw people wandering around in the typical thru-hiker town outfit: shorts over long underwear, a puffy down jacket and Crocs. It seemed like everyone's plan was to stay in Idyllwild for the night.

We split into rooms and fell asleep at 9:30 - late for us - and dreamed of rain.