Stopping to look at the view

Timothy Leary's dead

Day 14, Idyllwild to Fobes Ranch Trail Jct.

Saturday, April 6, 2019

For nearly two weeks, I had been hiking with the same group of people. They were fun, intelligent and inclusive.

Now the tramily was shrinking and it didn’t feel right.

In fact, it felt as if the tramily was breaking up, but that may have just been because I had not seen much of the whole group while in Idyllwild. Tengo Hambre, Bookworm and I stayed in a different building than the rest of the group.

Weather Slightly overcast, becoming partly sunny with high temperature in low 60s
Trail Conditions Gradual, then occasionally steep climb for most of day; later some rough sections through former fire area with some blowdowns
Today's Miles 14.8 miles
Trip Miles 166.6 miles

Until this morning, we hadn’t given a lot of thought about how we were going to get back to the trail. Eventually, though, we decided we could walk to a nearby gas station and try to get a ride from there. Still, that seemed iffy.

Then we saw Captain, Gilligan, MJ and Rainbow Sherbet walking our way. They said they had called a shuttle driver named Ron, who was going to drive them to the trail for a small fee.

When Ron arrived we asked him if he would come back and take us to the trail. He said yes.

With that problem settled and now some time to kill, I decided to walk to Higher Grounds Coffee for some breakfast. As I waited in line to order, I listened to a harpist and a drummer play in the corner of the restaurant. That was definitely a unique musical combo.

After picking up my order I walked back to Nomad Ventures, the outfitter store we had visited yesterday. They weren’t open this early, but I wanted to see if they kept their hiker box outside all the time.

I realized as I was packing this morning that the stuff sack for my tent was falling apart. I couldn’t buy one before I returned to the trail because the store wouldn’t open for a few more hours. I hoped to find one in the hiker box, which I noticed was outside yesterday. Unfortunately, it was not today.

Then I walked to the cabin where the other tramily members had stayed so I could say goodbye to Falls and Spamalot. While there I mentioned my attempt to get a stuff sack. Falls offered to pick up one for me before they left town.

That was not only nice of Falls to make that offer, it confirmed they were planning to meet up with us.

Falls and Spamalot planned to stay in Idyllwild a couple more days, then they will try to get a shuttle to the other side of the San Jacinto Mountains. From there they should be able to catch us coming down from Fuller Ridge.

Leaving Idyllwild

Ron the shuttle driver returned to pick us up shortly after 8:30 a.m. and we were back on the trail by 9:00.

Back on the trail

Once we started hiking, there wasn’t much elevation change for the first three miles.

San Jacinto Mountains and the trail ahead

The trail was easy, but apparently much easier for Bookworm than it was for Tengo and me. Before long he was far ahead and we lost sight of him.

SanJac Jon King

Only 15 minutes into the hike I met a trail runner coming the other direction. His name was Jon King, but hikers know him as SanJac Jon. He walks and runs almost daily on a lot of the trails around these mountains and then reports on the conditions on his San Jacinto Trail Report website.

I had heard about him, so when he told me his name I knew I could get the latest, most reliable information about the trail ahead.

Jon said the trail near Apache Peak would be technical and to be safe we should wear microspikes. A couple stretches of trail required extra care, he said, but we could get by without crampons and ice axes.

That was good news because I didn’t have crampons or an ice axe with me. Jon's information gave me confidence I wouldn’t run into anything I couldn’t handle.

I thanked Jon for being so helpful, not just to me but to all hikers. Then after he left, while I still had cellphone service, I went to his website and made a small donation to support what he was doing.

The trail makes a rocky climb

At the end of the easy section of trail it began a steep climb with a lot of rocks.

This climb was made extra challenging because of the full resupply I was carrying, and it didn’t help that I was coming off a zero day.

Steel Belted and Just Awesome

When I stopped for a short break I saw Steel Belted and Just Awesome. They had been in Idyllwild yesterday as well.

Steel Belted and Just Awesome hike ahead

I continued walking with them for a while, but soon they also pulled ahead.

Just Awesome and Tengo Hambre at lunch stop

A couple miles later I found Steel Belted and Just Awesome had stopped with Tengo for lunch, so I stopped too.

View of flat valley

By now we were much higher in elevation. We were at 6,400 feet and had only seven miles to go to reach our intended campsite.

From our lunch stop we took in wide views of the valley below.

Long climb

In all, we climbed more than 2,200 feet today. The trail was sometimes smoother as it went higher, but wasn’t what I would call easy.

View of valley and mountains

The higher the elevation, the more dramatic the views became. We stopped several times to look.

Snow-capped mountains

Before I knew it I was walking alone again. Tengo, Just Awesome and Steel Belted had gone on ahead, but I didn’t mind. I was enjoying this trail.

At this point, I was more than 160 miles from the start at Campo. It seemed that each mile was better than the last because the views kept getting better and better.

Bleached manzanita

Late in the day I entered a section of trail that had been badly burned in July 2013.

The fire was so severe that the towns of Idyllwild and Mountain Center were evacuated. If not for the good fortune of a heavy rainstorm, they would have been destroyed.

Burnt trees

More than 27,500 acres were burned in the fire. The trail was so badly damaged it remained closed after the rain extinguished the fire. Repair crews couldn’t begin working on the trail until two years later.

Part of the trail was reopened in November 2016, but much work was still needed on the section past Fobes Ranch Trail and it remained closed.

View from the top

Work continued to repair that section of trail, but in July 2018 an arsonist started another fire. This one burned more than 13,000 acres and parts of the already-repaired trail.

Snow on the trail

The trail continued to just above 7,000 feet, where I saw a few small patches of snow. These were not the sections of snow that SanJac Jon had mentioned. Those were expected to come tomorrow.

Burnt tree down on trail

The entire section of trail damaged by the fires of 2013 and 2018 was finally reopened just a few months ago.

More work was needed, though. I had to occasionally walk over or around burnt, downed trees. Most likely, they had fallen after the trail was reopened.

View through burnt trees

Late in the day the trail began to descend a thousand feet over the last two miles to our campsite.

Through a stand of burnt trees I could see the desert floor where the city of Palm Springs was located.

Tents at Fobes Ranch Trail

Our campsite was located near the junction of the Fobes Ranch Trail. I arrived there at 6 p.m.

Fobes Ranch was the home of LSD guru Timothy Leary during the 1960s. That era came to an end in 1972 when police raided the ranch.

We talked about plans for the trail ahead while we ate dinner. We expected to find the snow tomorrow, but thanks to what SanJac Jon had told me, we felt we could traverse it without any trouble.

Timothy Leary's dead
No, no, he's outside looking in
Timothy Leary's dead
No, no, he's outside looking in
He'll fly his astral plane
Takes you trips around the bay
Brings you back the same day
Timothy Leary, Timothy Leary

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