Mile 149 to 163 plus 1.5 miles on detour
up/down: 3050/1900 feet
I almost titled tis post "WIND" because we had a lot of it today. We awoke to the stiff wind the forecast promised and set out for our next water at the Paradise Valley Cafe. This is the only sure water in a long stretch but requires a one mile each way off trail road walk. When we got to Hwy 74 we found a small cache with a few gallon jugs allowing us to top off and skip the cafe.
Next up was to start the ascent of San Jacinto Peak, still some miles distant. We knew, along with all the other hikers that our trail would come to an abrupt end in just 11 more miles because of a fire closure from the 2013 Mountain Fire. Most hikers just hitch into Idyllwild from the cafe and skip the whole mess. We are doing the walking alternate, or at least most of it. We continued on the trail, up the ridge, gaining elevation and being beat senseless by the 40+ mph wind in exposed areas. It was not a lot of fun but the views were pretty amazing.
Palm Desert from high above
Fire closure notices
When we reached the closure at 7000 feet elevation we took a side trail down a thousand feet to a small valley that will allow us to walk to Lake Hemet and then on to Idyllwild. We'll see how we are feeling when we get to Hemet in 12 miles, but walking the last 8 miles on a road just doesn't sound like a lot of fun. As long as we walk an equivalent number of miles that are skipped in the fire closure we're satisfied.
Down to Lake Hemet
Once down off the ridge we found an expected water source - a spring diversion to a cattle tank. This is a common type of water source as we move through Southern California. The entire trail is mapped out for water sources and current status is kept up to date with crowd sourced information. The data is available on pctwater.com. Thankfully this one had running water and we didn't have to dip out of the tank. There are no cattle here now but there have been in recent years.
We filter all water sources to be safe. We are carrying a light weight filter called the Sawyer Squeeze. Fill the bag with dirty water and squeeze it through the filter. It works very well and fast - I can do a liter of water in less than a minute.
As I type this and look up to the ridge we were on earlier, I'm glad we're not there now. It is covered in misty clouds and you can bet the wind is still howling.
Tomorrow is town day number two, in Idyllwild.