PCT 2019: Day 12, Mary’s Place to Idyllwild

Lookin' for adventure and whatever comes our way

Tengo Hambre walking on Highway 74

Our night at Mary’s Place was very comfortable. There were occasional wind gusts, but they didn’t interrupt my sleep much. The temperature dipped to the low 40s.

The other hikers here told me they met Mary last night. I arrived after that so I missed her. This disappointed me because I wanted to thank her for providing such a nice place to stay.

DateFriday, April 5, 2019
WeatherCool and breezy with at high temperature in the low 60s
Trail ConditionsA couple of steep but short ups and downs; one mile of road walking to Paradise Valley Cafe
Today's Miles6.4
Trip Miles151.8

Mary is the trail angel who owns the property and the hikers said she rode over to the campsite on her Tennessee Walking Horse, Gracie.

While I finished packing this morning, I wrote a short note to Mary in the guestbook she left for hikers to sign. “I wish I had met you to thank you in person,” I said in the note.

Trail angel Mary at Mary's Place

A few minutes later, Mary walked up to the campsite from her house, I so I was able to thank her.

As we talked, Mary told me she moved here eight years ago after retiring from a philosophy professorship. She said she has been helping hikers for the last seven years.

She noted the big increase in the number of hikers since she started being a trail angel. She attributed a lot of that to Cheryl Strayed’s best-selling book “Wild” and the movie.

We all thanked Mary for her generosity and commented about what a nice place this was to stay. The word “oasis” was often used.

“I hear the ramen here is pretty good,” Just Awesome joked.

Low clouds

We didn’t have far to go today, so we took our time packing. Our plan was to hike a little more than six trail miles and one mile of road walking to Paradise Valley Cafe. We would eat lunch there, then hitch a ride into the town of Idyllwild.

Just as we were about to leave, Bookworm arrived. He didn't camp with us because he got a late start yesterday, so we were glad to have him back with us.

Despite low-hanging clouds and a breeze, the weather was nicer this morning than it had been yesterday.

Tengo on the PCT

The trail was smooth and easy. After a few ups and downs the rest of the way was downhill. The tramily sped down the trail, but Tengo and I took our time to enjoy the views.

View of San Jacinto Mountains

Before long, we were getting a good view of the snow-capped San Jacinto Peak, which is 10,834 feet high. The trail goes near the top and we wondered if there will be too much snow up there to cross the mountains.

We're planning to take a zero day tomorrow in Idyllwild. That will give us time to figure out the snow situation and determine if it’s safely doable.

view of California Highway 74

Before long, we also caught of view of California Highway 74. That was the road where the cafe was located.

Paradise Valley Cafe

It took another 15 minutes before Tengo Hambre and I got to the road, then we had to walk the road to the cafe.

Eating at Paradise Valley Cafe

By the time we arrived, the other hikers were already sitting outside and enjoying their meals. We got reviews of the food and it seemed that the burgers were a favorite. I ordered one and agreed with the reviews.

Not only was the food good, the cafe’s owner was very hiker friendly. He lets hikers camp in back of the restaurant for free and I’ve heard he has even let them stay inside when the weather is bad.

After we finished eating, it took us awhile before deciding it was time to hitch a ride to Idyllwild. The restaurant was situated on the same highway we would need to take into town, so we gathered at a spot on the road where drivers could easily pull over.

Unfortunately, there were so many of us trying to hitch there was no way we could all fit in one vehicle. We didn’t realize that most residents living around here are friendly to hikers and are willing to pick them up. Almost instantly, three cars stopped, which was enough for everybody to get a ride.

Except me.

It was no big deal. I didn’t worry about letting everyone go on without me because I guessed another car would be along soon.

That turned out to be a good guess. Before the other cars were out of sight a pickup truck stopped to pick me up. The driver told me he could only take me as far as the town of Mountain Center, but I said that would be good enough. I was feeling lucky.

That luck held out, too, because just a minute after he dropped me off, a woman painting a sign on a nearby building noticed me. She asked where I was going, and when I told her Idyllwild, she hollered at her husband to drive me there.

Neither driver would take money when I offered it.

Arriving at Silver Pines Lodge in Idyllwild

About ten minutes later, I was dropped off at Silver Pines Lodge. Most of the other hikers arrived at about same time.

Tengo, Bookworm and I agreed to share a room that had three beds, which was located in the main lodge building. The rest of the tramily shared a cabin about a block away.

Scene from The Wild Angels

Several movies have been filmed in Idyllwild, including the biker film “The Wild Angels,” starring Peter Fonda and Nancy Sinatra. A brief glimpse of Silver Pines Lodge can be seen at the end of that film during a biker funeral procession scene. Although the lodge was renamed “Hillbilly Lodge” for the film, it looks much the same today as it did in the film.

Our room was nice, but the furnishings seemed to date back to 1966, the year the film was made. As we had seen with everyone else we met, the staff was friendly to hikers. They even did our laundry for us.

Once we were cleaned up, Tengo, Bookworm and I walked around town, then went to La Casita Mexican Restaurant for $1.50 taco night. We texted the other tramily members to let them know about taco night, but they didn’t show up until we were leaving.

Later, Tengo and Bookworm wanted to go back out for ice cream, but by then I was too tired.

I can only take so much adventure.

Get your motor runnin'
Head out on the highway
Lookin' for adventure
And whatever comes our way
Yeah Darlin' go make it happen
Take the world in a love embrace
Fire all of your guns at once
And explode into space


"Nothing to tell now. Let the words be yours, I'm done with mine."ref.