PCT Week 3 – Paradise Valley Café to Cabazon

PCT Week 3 – Paradise Valley Café to Cabazon

In this post I write about my third week on the Pacific Crest Trail. I hiked from Paradise Valley Café Mile 156 to Cabazon Mile 210. In PCT Week 3 I had my first snow experience and my first heat extremes on the agenda. If you missed the second week’s article, here’s the link to the contribution: PCT Week 2.

Map – Pacific Crest Trail Week 3

October 25, 2019 1:45 pm
  • Distance 85 km
  • Time 21 h 8 min
  • Speed 4.0 km/h
  • Min altitude 364 m
  • Peak 2757 m
  • Climb 2850 m
  • Descent 3995 m
  • Distance Instructions

Day 15: Early Wake Up

Day: April 19th 2019
Distance: 12,8 mi, 20,5 km
Accumulated: 168.5 mi, 269.1 km

It starts early and I’m low on water. After a few miles I have the opportunity to refill my water bottles. It goes half a mile from the trail downhill to a water trough. What a surprise: a dead mouse in a water tank… half as wild, I filter my water directly at the water outlet. Safe is safe.

Afterwards it goes up the mountains and through a bizarre landscape. A year ago a huge fire raged here, leaving only bare trees behind. Arriving at the camp spot we decide to go cowboy camping (sleep open air, without tent), because the wind is too strong and there is not enough space. As a reward of the day there is a great sunset and an incredible moonrise. By the way, it’s a full moon, pleasant dreams.

Day 16: The first snow and my trailname in Idyllwild

Day: April 20th 2019
Distance: 10,9 mi, 17,4 km
Accumulated: 179.4 mi, 287 km

After getting up, the trail continues uphill. The wind gets stronger and stronger and we come to snow depth. After a short time I meet Liran from Israel again, with whom I slept at Scout and Frodo in a tent. We are happy about the reunion and Liran tells me that he last saw snow when he was 9 years old. He’s on cloud nine.

Since I had not planned any microspikes for this section, I walk carefully over the ice. It’s super dangerous and the first ones start with postholing. Postholing is when the firm blanket of snow gives way and one or both legs bag knee or hip deep. No fun and very exhausting.

I also posthole several times and notice all of a sudden how my knee stretches over in a deep hole. A hell of a pain pervades my body. I’ll try to get out of the hole and finally make it. The limp continues. Suddenly I realize I can’t see the Trail anymore. Lila (Trailname: Rabitt Rabitt) gets map and compass out of her pocket and navigates our group of four successfully to Saddle Junction, the descent into the village Idyllwild.

In Idyllwild we have pizza, beer and the reunion with other hikers. To end the day reconciliatory we board a karaoke bar. The music is so well received that a few people at the counter pay for our beer and I get my trail name: Jukebox. A perfect ending to the day.

Day 17: Rest day in Idyllwild

Day: April 21st 2019
Distance: 0 mi, 0 km
Accumulated: 179.4 mi, 287 km

The first restday in Week 3 is on the agenda. Sleeping late and scrubbing the dirt off my body with a hot shower are at the top of my checklist. Afterwards it goes to the Sunday brunch in Tommy’s Kitchen. $17.99 all you can eat is a top offer for Hikers. I want healthy food: salad, humus, pasta, vegetables, fruit and everything my heart desires. After one hour everyone is full, satisfied and barely able to walk back to the campsite.

My knee still hurts and I decide to buy microspikes for the next stages. At the campsite I meet Tom, he is a physiotherapist and looks at my knee. Seems all right. I massage it with Tigerbalm and grant it with some peace.

Day 18: Back on the PCT

Day: April 22nd 2019
Distance: 0 mi, 0 km
Accumulated: 179.4 mi, 287 km

Before it goes back on the PCT the belly must be filled up with a proper breakfast. It goes to the Red Kettle and I order fruit, vegetables and an omelette. It’s fantastic and delicious. Afterwards the laundry must be washed. So I slip into my rain gear and wash all the clothes out of my backpack. Last but not least, we go to the supermarket. Resupply: Shopping for food for the next 6 days after Big Bear including the ascent to the summit of Mount San Jacinto.

Around 04:00 p.m. everything is done and two Trailangels drive our group of five back to the ascent. It goes up again on the mountain and icy temperatures await us.

Day 19: San Jacinto Summit

Day: April 23rd 2019
Distance: 8,1 mi, 13 km
Accumulated: 187.5 mi, 300 km

Today we go to the summit of San Jacinto (3,302 metres/ 10,834 feet). It’s an icy morning and we’re all torturing ourselves out of our sleeping bags. At 6:30 a.m. we start the ascent. After a few miles you can’t go on without microspikes. A few more miles later the deep snow is steep uphill and the trail can only be guessed by GPS. Arrived at the top there is a well deserved break at pleasant temperatures.

Summit of San Jacinto

Summit of San Jacinto

The descent is more difficult than expected. After a few meters I slip and come to a standstill only with difficulty and necessity. My stopping manoeuvre results in one of my walking sticks breaking through. The highest concentration is required for the descent.

Arrived at the campspot we are all flat and exhausted. The descent has not only pulled physical forces. My brain feels like after a crazy exam due to the high concentration during the descent. The strength to erect a tent is lacking. Cowboy camping with wet and cold feet. Just get out of those wet socks. Good night.

Day 20 The icy descent over the Fuller Ridge

Day: April 24th 2019
Distance: 9,8 mi, 15,7 km
Accumulated: 197.3 mi, 315.7 km,

Early in the morning I move into my half-frozen shoes. It’s damn cold again and it’s impossible to get ahead without microspikes. After a few hours of highest concentration we reach snow-free terrain over the Fuller Ridge and breathe a sigh of relief. I lost my GoPro at the postholing in deep snow, but I am happy to have finished this part of the PCT. It was just hard.

The temperatures rise suddenly the deeper we hike. From snow and water everywhere it changes smoothly into a dry desert climate. We’re targeting the nearest waterhole to replenish our supplies. The last miles lead to a camp spot which invites us again to cowboy camping.

Day 21: Down into hellish temperatures and food at Cabazon

Day: April 25th 2019
Distance: 12,8 mi, 20,5 km
Cumulative: 210.1 mi, 336.2 km,

It’s still downhill. Sun and heat are merciless. The climate forces many breaks, but there are few shade places. The fight with the inner self begins.

The last few miles lead through a dry riverbed. It’s like an oven. A thermometer indicates 132°F (55°C) in the sun. It must be broken… All the desert scenes from the Clint Eastwood movies shoot into my brain. “Don’t die of thirst cowboy, it’s only a few more miles” I say to myself and fight my way through the soft sand in the riverbed.

Finally I arrive totally finished at the bridge for Highway 10 – there are shadows here. There are also other hikers resting and protecting themselves from the sun. We decide four of us to hitchhike to Cabazon, go shopping and eat something. A big burrito fills up my empty batteries. Afterwards we hitchhike back onto the trail and look for a place to sleep.

I survived the third week on the Pacific Crest Trail. It wasn’t easy, but I could learn a lot of new things. Be curious what happens next. Here it goes directly to week 4.

If you liked this article, I’m happy about a Like, a heart or a smile on your face. If you have questions, suggestions or criticism, I look forward to your comments.

Greetings, Martin