Date: May 8, 2017
Miles: 17.4 miles (28km), from Warner Springs to Mike's.
Health: Feeling good. Legs feel strong and the few blisters I have are a none issue.
The morning was cold and wet. My sleeping bag was moist and my tent still wet from the rain. I was looking for Justine who was sleeping in the tent next to me for the "let's go" time as we had agreed to head out in a group. As I saw no movement in her tent I assumed she was still sleeping and I didn't make any attempt to hurry out.
While slowly getting my things together, all of a sudden everyone shows up ready to head out. Apparently everyone had slept inside the Community Center as they had left the doors open for us hikers over night due to bad weather. Others headed out as Blü waited for me, making comments about how I'm always late.
The morning was again cold and wet. It wasn't raining anymore but everything was still wet. The trail out of Warner Springs was flat and beautiful. We made miles quickly. Blü stayed behind and I put on my earphones and some cheesy rock and hiked on.
I made roughly 10 miles and stopped for a breakfast next to a river where the trail was covered by poison oak. I'm slowly learning what plants and animals not to touch on the trail. Poison oak has been plentiful but no sight of the infamous Poodle Dog Bush.
After the relatively flat beginning the trail started to climb up again. At some point of the climb I came upon Justine, Theo, and Andrew taking a break. Andrew was snoring while we laughed about how Justine had just lost her nibble on the trail. She meant the nibble of her Platypus water hose but forgot to mention that when telling the story.
After few hours of climbing we saw our first snow on the trail. We were doing such a good progress that we stopped often to just marvel at the scenery opening up in front of us. Others used these breaks to climb rocks.
Once we reached what looked like the top, we stopped in the sun to dry out all our gear. The scene looked like a yard sale at the middle of the trail with all the gear spread out.
The rest of the hike was quite uneventful and we made it to the Mike's on time. As we got there we learned that Mike wasn't there but his buddy Joshua was taking care of all the hikers. Mike's is a trail angel who's house is in what feels like a middle of nowhere. They organize trail parties and barbecue sessions there. Hikers can also fill up their water bottles few hundred feet outside his house.
After a lot of back and forth and strategizing we decided to not push ahead as we had planned and instead stayed at Mike's for the night. The reasoning was that we had only about 25 miles (40km) to Paradise Cafe from where we'd hitch to Idyllwild. We could make it there by pushing further today and doing a long day tomorrow, but that would mean we would be in Idyllwild by late evening, forcing us to stay for the night. If we instead stayed here and did about 20 miles tomorrow, we could make it to Paradise Cafe early the day after tomorrow. This way we would have the entire day to spend at Idyllwild and still have time to make it out before the night. We already had a zero at Warner Springs so we don't want to take another this soon.
Joshua and few other hikers made a huge barbecue fest where we were offered chicken and potatoes. It was so good!
As the weather was getting worse again, we headed out to the patio and claimed our spots for tonight. It was so cold that I just climbed in to my sleeping bag as soon as I got everything ready. It sure hasn't felt like Southern California recently with all the rain and cold weather.