Day 8: CS144 to Hurkey Creek CG (29.2 miles)
Updated: Aug 21, 2019
May 15, 2016 - Right as I was about to get into my tent for the night these dark clouds started rolling in, really scary looking. Also the wind started to pick up and just kept blowing all night long. I felt bad for all those that tried to cowboy camp and had no tent to block that cold wind.
I woke up to a very foggy morning, just enough to see the trail but not enough to see the surrounding mountains. All I knew was I had about a liter of water and 8 miles to highway 74 that would take me to the Paradise Cafe for a real breakfast. It was a very nice morning to hike, nice cool weather and was making great time, hiking over 3.5mph.
I get to the road and there is a water cache. One of the main reasons I was walking the mile to the cafe was to get water so I had to think hard if I wanted the detour but I had pancakes on my mind and couldn’t pass that up even though I knew I would be in town tomorrow.
I get to the cafe just as they are opening and there is a long line of other thru-hikers that got in last night and slept on the porch. The Paradise Cafe is known for their burgers but it being breakfast time I didn’t get a chance to put them to the test. I had a hard time deciding between pancakes and biscuits & gravy so I ended up getting both. That was a lot of food and almost wasn’t able to finish.
Had a fun time chatting with the other hikes and sharing stories. Turns out most of them are going to hitch into Idyllwind, skipping 20+ miles of trail because they don’t want to take the detour. The detour has been in place since 2013 because of a fire. I see that as cheating and don’t see how they can call themselves thru-hikers since there is a walk able trail to use. No sooner than walking outside of the cafe I had a nice person approach me and asked if I wanted a ride into town. I politely decline and said I planned to head back to trail and continue my hike on the PCT, no short cuts for me.
The mile hike back to trail was a little rough on a full stomach but I managed. Those other hikers really missed out as the first part of the morning hike was such a delight. It took me up and down through these boulder fields then into a pine forest then back to a more expose alpine forest. Hiking up I had the desert to one side and a foggy green forest on the other. The view from the top was even more amazing.
The cool temperatures made for easy hiking and really didn’t need to take my normal late morning/early afternoon break because of the heat. However about 5 miles after breakfast that food really hit me and had to pull off trail for a long nap.
Once at the top is when I had to take the detour, all that climbing and was forced to head back down, had to drop down some 2500 feet. I took the 1.5 mile switchbacks to a water source I had counted on. I searched that whole area but never found the water. I just assumed it was dried up and headed on (found out later where it was located). So now I had 8 miles to go with 1.5 liters of water but luckily it was in the mid 50s so I figured I could make it.
After the switchbacks it was basically road walking, paved and dirt, to Hurkey Creek Campground. The last mile I had to walk on busy highway 74. I knew that there was a store at the campground so I had been pushing it hard to get there to get some junk food and get some quarters so I could take a shower at the campground. I get to the store at 6:57pm, 3 minutes before closing time. I turn the corner and see the open sign off and the cashier counting money. That was a little depressing but decided to try the door and walked in. The cashier was nice and let me get my supplies.
I left the store and still had a little bite more hiking to the campground I was allowed to use. It was starting to get dark and wanted to get off the road. I finally found the campground but the caretaker was gone so wasn’t sure why I should camp and how much I should pay. I wanted to leave something so I put in $10 at the pay station and then set up camp. After dinner I went to take a shower in a gross bathroom, luckily I had picked up some flip flops in Warner Springs. While in the shower I hear this woman asking if she could use the shower next to me since none of the ones on the woman’s side worked. I didn’t care so I said fine. I walk out and the woman’s boyfriend was waiting outside so I talked with him for a little bit.
After the shower I got in my tent and was ready for bed after that long day. Even though that was my largest mile day it felt easier than it had, I’m sure the cool weather helped.
Tomorrow I’ll finished the 8 mile detour to take me to Idyllwind to resupply before heading up to the summit of San Jancito, 10,800ft summit where I’ll camp.