Mile 179.3 to 193 plus 3 mile side trail
Fuller Ridge strikes fear into many hikers, especially this early in the season. The ridge protrudes to the northwest of San Jacinto Peak and has several miles of trail on north facing slope that holds icy snow. We watched the reports from the past few days and felt if we hit it in the afternoon while the snow was soft all would be good. And so it was.
First we had to get from our camp in Idyllwild back to the PCT. There are a number of approaches and we chose one that would get us very close to the end of the fire closure. The Devils Slide Trail would work but the trailhead was about 4 miles from town. As luck would have it our friend Alison came down from Kern to have breakfast with us in town this morning, and be our angel of transportation. We really appreciate the effort Ali, thanks again.
We started hiking in a stiff cold wind, remnant from the last few days of high winds. Thankfully by the time we reached the PCT a few miles later the wind was tolerable and stayed so all day. From the we moved north toward the San Jacinto summit and skirted around the west side with incredible views back toward Taquitz Peak. We reached last water for 20 miles at mile 186 and tanked up our storage for dry camp and hiking most of tomorrow. Next up - the infamous Fuller Ridge.
There were some tough sections with plenty of snow to cross on exposed slopes but overall it was anticlimactic. We made the end of the ridge and dropped down some elevation before finding a campsite. From Fuller Ridge to the bottom tomorrow is a 7000 foot descent - the largest single descent on the entire trail. I'm sure our quads will have something to say to us before tomorrow is over.
Birding was excellent all day with montane species typical of our Sierra. Lots of Yellow-rumped Warblers, Chickadees, nuthatches, VG Swallows, and even some Red Crossbills.
San Jacinto Peak from camp
There is another fire closure coming, the 2015 Lake Fire south of Big Bear. I'll talk more about that tomorrow.