Day 8 - 15miles
Up and walking by 5:45 am. It's a pleasant start to the day as I snake my way around the bends in the rocky hill. A morning rabbit is ahead of me bounding along the trail. It isn't too hot yet which is lucky. The inner corners of the path are refreshingly chilling to walk into. It's a gradual climb which then turns into a single path to the road; at the end of which is the Paradise café. I'm their first customer and order a large orange juice and 3 pancakes. I'm so full after they swell in my stomach but so happy too. I message my friend parents in-law who I'll been staying with come early July. I remain still waiting for the pancakes to settle. After charging my items and procrastinating a bit too long I plucked up the courage to hitch hike.
I write up a hitching sign and head to the main road. It's super hot but head to the road side feeling optimistic. The first car is a red car and I can see it speeding towards me. I hold out my sign, my thumb and smile meekly. The car pulls over immediately.
Well that was easier than I thought.
I pick up my bag and run over. Inside is a friendly man who signals that I put my bag in the back . His name is Thomas but goes by the name of Black Mountain due to his native heritage. He has long black head in plaits with leather and beads interwoven in them. He says he often picks up hitchers as he likes to help. He's in the area to go hiking as his wife wants him out the house and he attempts that he needs to shed a few pounds. He's a jolly man and we have a good conversation. He is only going half way so we shake hands and I hitch again.
A few cars pass by until a large hatchback (all cars are huge) pulls over. It's blaring out music and every seat is filled. I look closer and it's the trio of hikers from yesterday; one girl called Pop Tart and a father and son - the son Jeff is hiking the trail again after getting a hernia last year and had to bow out half way up California. I clamber inside and we speed off to Idyllwild frequently doing double the speed limit. We slide around in the back seats which are made of leather as he whizzes round corners. He over takes a little motorbike which gladly pulls over. We arrive and our driver offers to drive us to a second supermarket if want. We politely decline. The store is pretty barren but were able to resupply. I chat with Poptart briefly who is 27 and from North Carolina. She did the AT last year. She completes her shopping and jets off to the post office. I'm left to wander the dusty shelves and stock up with way too much sugar. To get back on the trail I decide to head up a track called Deer Springs Trail which is 5 miles in total to the PCT. It's slow going in the midday heat, luckily there is plenty of shade but still it takes me all afternoon.
I don't stop hiking till I get to the water source - North fork San Jacinto River which I reach at 4 pm. I clamber downstream on the rocks and wash my clothes and myself as best I can. I drink 2 liters while I'm there. After an hour I walk on, my backpack is so heavy when I sling it back on I nearly topple sideways. The walk to the top is long and slow, least tomorrow it's downhill - all 6000ft of downhill. I take my time and receive amazing views from the top. I see a valley of wind turbines in my direction of travel. I pass through a forest of tall pine trees, little patches of snow are present here and there.
Lizards and chipmunks scatter about and birds fly above. I make it to the top and begin the appreciated descent. I only go down 2000ft and make camp. I have a gorgeous view over the valley and after pitching my tent I still in the stillness and marvel at where I am. I can see the sun setting over a city, the haze and cloud trying to overpower each other. It takes me ages to fall asleep as my brain won't switch off and I think of things I want to accomplish. Shh brain sleep.