13th to 21st May 2017, Day 7 to Day 15: 155 miles from Warner Springs to Big Bear Lake
The generosity of strangers has really made an impact this week.
I stayed a night at “Mike’s place”, which is a little off-the-grid house in the middle of the desert. They not only provide water, but also open their home up as a place to stay the night and offer beer and pizza!
Then after a 26-mile day, I was given mandarins by a man called Tim who was on a day hike but decided to stop and give away some food.
The locals in all the nearby towns support the PCT and really go out of their way to help the hikers out, as do many of the small businesses. One night, we had great beers and burgers at Paradise Café. Afterwards, they let us camp out on their premises for the night, and even gave us the key to the external restroom.
In Idyllwild, a beautiful little mountain town, the locals were genuinely interested to hear tales from the trail. I was offered a lift up to the trail head within a few minutes of arriving.
Near a random road in the middle of the desert, I met a man known as Copper Tone. He’d set up his Isuzu truck and camper beside the trail to offer food and drinks to hikers, including a fantastic creaming soda with raspberry ripple ice cream! He was a great character to chat with. He hiked the PCT back in 2006. After working all over the world, he’s now spent the last 7 years touring round in his truck. He said that he plans to move up the trail and keep supporting hikers for another couple of weeks, expecting nothing in return.
At a campground at Mile 246, I met a group camping nearby who turned out to be some kind of American patriots nationalist group. They were a bit intimidating at first, but it turned out to be a great evening. They welcomed four of us hikers with beers and cooked us up a massive steak BBQ feast. I managed to get back to my tent without signing up or getting any tattoos. After some googling about the group, it was probably good that I hadn’t stuck around with them for too long! I made a pretty early start the next morning!
At the highway near Big Bear Lake, another hiker and I hitched into town with a lovely local couple. It seems so strange to hitch as it is just not done in Australia, but the people in all these towns are happy to offer their help to hikers.
Other than meeting all of these great people, I managed to summit Mt San Jacinto at 3,300 meters, put in a couple of 25-mile days, saw some beautiful sights and caught back up with some of the original hikers I started with for a great reunion!
San Jacinto pictures
The landscapes have really varied – from pine trees and snow fed streams to desert – including on different sides of the same mountain! Despite it nearly being summer, the tracks are still snow -covered at some of the high altitude passes. This adds some interesting navigational challenges! Luckily a lot of the snow has melted in these parts and it’s not as treacherous as it was a few weeks ago, when special snow gear was needed to traverse some of these areas.