Thursday, May 4
Start: Paradise Cafe
It’s a massive hiker sleep over on the property around Paradise Valley Cafe. I’m sleeping next to the cardboard recycling and I keep thinking that the raccoons will be arriving any minute. I’m ready to go by 6am but the 8 of us (Dos Tacos, Yoobie, Pacer, Drum Solo, Toe Gap, Venus and Gramps) don’t hit the road until about 7am. We’re gifted a wide, soft shoulder so the road walk is better than expected. After 8.5 miles we’re rewarded with the Lake Hemet Market. We all buy snacks and rest in the shade. A gust of wind kicks through knocking over gatorade bottles and picking up empty chip bags. Venus and Drum Solo go running after the floating garbage. But the two chip bags fly higher and higher and Drum Solo stands there, head turned to the sky, waiting for their return. But they’ve caught some magical draft and they fly higher and higher way off into the distance never to be seen again. I’m laughing so hard I’m crying. We’re not the kind to leave our trash around but this one just couldn’t be helped.
I’m filled with dread. Another 8 miles? How can I manage? I’m tired and I hurt and I’m feeling so so sorry for myself. We head out as a group and I still have it in the back of my mind that I can hitch in another 3 miles or so. Drum Solo asks me how I’m doing. I say I’m hurting. He sticks with me as we catch a trail that runs parallel to the highway. I decide to be tough and after a break, Drum Solo and I start the last 5.6 miles. It’s a climb and it’s like 95F on this hot forest service road but we push up and over into the most beautiful valley. It’s moments and places like these that make you so glad you demanded more of yourself. I know that Drum Solo can hike much faster but he sticks with me. We chat about his field work in Idaho and .25 cent beer nights in Flagstaff. The closed PCT towers above us to the East as we make the final climb into Idyllwild. We drop in through the quaint outskirts of Idyllwind and I am filled with gratitude. Grateful to see new sights. Grateful for Drum Solo sticking with me. Grateful to have hiked into Idyllwild and not have hitched. Grateful for this life and these friends. Grateful for this moment.
We check into our Idyllwild Inn cabin and renew ourselves with showers and beer. Around 8pm we go in search of dinner and wind up at the Idyllwild Brewery which has great beer, fun atmoshere and fucking yummy food. And we might have walked through the middle of the street to the liquor store to procure margarita ingredients.