After cramming seven stinky hikers into one small rundown room, the walls were saturated with the smell of wet socks, and the shower saw its yearly supply of dirt in one night.
Apricots woke early, and I soon followed. She and I went to breakfast with Uncle Tom, and started discussing our options. We had about five reasonable options, but only two were really being considered:
1. Take a zero and attack Fuller Ridge tomorrow
2. Skip 11.8 miles of the trail, and rejoin the PCT via Black Mountain Road.
Ultimately, attacking Fuller Ridge meant more snow navigating, and more icy snow chutes to brave across. Unlike our first leg, we had no knowledge of the trail conditions, other than reports from a time prior to last weeks snow fall, and this weeks light precipitation.
A report from 16 days ago ultimately said, "Don't risk it! Unless you like the idea of being miserable and dying."
Not really being a fan of dying, we all agreed to skip a portion of the trail and head up Black Mountain Road. Coincidentally, this is the same course of action I ceded to last time through. As such, Apricots and I plan to do our best to get back here and do this section which we hear is stunning.
After milling about town, building our resupply, and enjoying a beautiful day in Idyllwild, we returned to our "job." It's not a bad job, we enjoy it. We rise with the sun, and "commute" across the land as the sun "commutes" across the sky. We visit the office snack room when we open our packs, and we hand in our power point presentations when we release the shutters on our cameras. And the view is spectacular. It's been said that, "Our office is Your desktop background."
At 2pm, David Ledbetter (a very accommodating Trail Angel) made two runs up to Black Mountain Road to drop the seven of us off. From there it was an eight mile dirt road walk back up to the PCT. While we our walking from Mexico to Canada, we don't exactly enjoy road walks. The compacted dirt or paving is very tiresome on our joints. Add that to the fact that it's our first day out of town so our packs our heavy, and the climb is a few thousand feet.
Needless to say, we were delighted when someone driving a jeep yelled at us that he had a key to the locked gate, and he would be willing to unlock the forest service gate and drive us to the top. Elated we turned around and started to walk to the jeep. Then he said, "Oh?! They changed the lock, never mind, I can't drive you up."
Crushed, we returned to our long uphill march, knowing that every foot in elevation gain we put on today, was equal to three feet of elevation loss tomorrow. Tomorrow we drop around 6000 feet in elevation.
We reached the PCT shortly after 5pm, and set up tents on the closed road, as it was the only flat spot in the area. Coincidentally, our camping spot is at a Viewpoint which looks out over the valley 6000 feet below. We sat on the rocks overlooking tomorrows descent while we cooked dinners and watched the sun set.
Tomorrow we leave the cold wet mountains and return to the hot dry desert.
Sent via BlackBerry from T-Mobile