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Day 12 – April 15, 2022

Mile 176.4 (Mt. San Jacinto) to 179.4 (Saddle Junction/Idyllwild)

3.0 trail miles | 8.2 tracked miles | 419 ft elevation gain | 59 F / 15 °C

The wind was relentless last night, and I did not get much sleep. Fortunately, today is town day! We made it to Idyllwild, CA and will be staying until Monday morning.

In anticipation for a relatively short day, we “slept in” and left camp at 7 am, on a lovely crisp morning. We hiked a quick 3 miles to Saddle Junction, then left the PCT and walked another 3 miles to the Humber Park trailhead.

From the trailhead, it was an easy 2-mile road walk down to Idyllwild.

Walking into town was a sweet feeling. I noted in my FAQ that hiking is a form of slow travel, and while this comment was mostly made in jest, there is some truth to it. I have effectively traveled from Campo, CA to Idyllwild on foot. (Julian was a 20 minute car ride from the trail, which was a bit anticlimactic in this regard.)

The scenic mountain road to Idyllwild, CA.

It was roughly 10 am when we arrived, or more precisely second breakfast o’clock.

I glanced at Google Maps and we decided to head over to Mama’s Egg House, which turned out to be a fantastic choice. The food was delicious and abundant, and the service prompt and friendly. We dined on the patio, partly because we love being outside, and partly out of respect for unsuspecting customers.

I suppose we didn’t have to be so considerate. It soon became abundantly clear that Mama’s Egg House is a hiker hotspot—which makes sense, given the restaurant’s location at the edge of town on the way from the PCT.

Moments later, we reunited with Carolyn! You might remember that we left her in Julian along with Willow and Ky. While they’re a bit behind us, they hitched from Paradise Valley Cafe to Idyllwild, so we’ll have the pleasure of zeroing together.

Carolyn, Michael, Christie, Joe, and yours truly enjoying second breakfast at Mama’s Egg House.

I had rented a Vrbo for Michael, Christie, Joe, and I, but we couldn’t check in before mid-afternoon. To pass time, we explored Idyllwild for a while. The town is incredibly compact; everything is within walking distance. (And by walking distance, I really mean minutes away, unlike Canada.)

In addition to being an extraordinarily relaxed and hiker-friendly town, Idyllwild is popular with vacationers. The town’s claim to fame is that the mayor is a dog. We didn’t get to meet Mayor Max, though. He typically greets his constituents in the town center, but I suppose he had important business to attend today.

Idyllwild, CA

I made a quick detour by the post office to bounce (hiker-speak for “ship ahead”) my ice axe to Kennedy Meadows, but opted to keep my spikes in an overabundance of caution, should there be significant snow ahead.

Then, we stopped by the local gear store, Nomad Ventures, and I purchased a couple extra stakes (I have a fear of bending or losing stakes), a few backpacking meals, and minor other tidbits. We rummaged through the hiker box in the hope of finding hidden treasures and came out mostly empty-handed, but I did snag a large gas canister. Given the shortage of camping fuel canisters in California, I’ll happily accept a minor weight penalty in exchange for a longer-lasting supply.

Nomad Ventures gear store.

Finally, it was time to check in, and I returned to the rental agency to pick up our key.

Our humble abode has a small yard, a spacious main room, a full kitchen, and, perhaps even more importantly, a separate laundry room with a washer and dryer.

The living room turned into a war zone before I even had a chance to snap photos. We acknowledged that packing up without leaving anything behind would undoubtedly be a challenge, but decided to live by Seneca the Younger’s wise words: “True happiness is to enjoy the present, without anxious dependence upon the future.”

Packing up is, after all, Monday’s problem.

Leave it to four hikers to trash a living room in less than a minute.

After a blissful shower, the next priority was laundry. It felt like a true luxury. Who knew that adulting was so enjoyable?

In fact, Joe liked the washing machine so much that he’s decided to sleep in the laundry room. At least, that’s the official version of the story.

The whole family soon reunited for a gargantuan dinner and drinks. Since we have only a single set of clothes, we all had to wear our rain gear and goofy outfits while doing laundry, which was hilarious.

Chefs Willow and Ky deserve all the credit for our feast. My contribution was primarily in the form of entertainment. I might have washed a few dishes, too.

After a smooth and easy day all around, I look forward to sleeping in a bed for the first time in a week! Tomorrow will be our first zero: we’ll sleep in, resupply, and generally try to rest as much as possible.

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