Ok... so today I finished my little section hike on crutches. I can't say that I would recommend it as a mode of travel, but for me, it was way better than sitting home being bummed out.
My knees had just about had it after finally reaching camp last night. Once I got down on the ground to futz with my bag and such,there was no getting up again. I just whaled around in the sand grabbing at my stuff and squirming aound like a big fat alligator. It was quite attractive! Our campsite last night was in the sand, and thankfully, it was out of the wind. Penrod Canyon is easily accessible from Hiway 74 (Pines to Palms Hiway), and it is just a gorgeous place with huge granite boulders and so many amazing plants.One would expect such a place to be overrun by day hikers, but today this land was the exclusive dominion of the thru-hiker crowd.
I felt great this morning and was actually moving at a pretty good clip out to the hiway. Upon reaching the road, we turned around and stuck out our thumbs to hitch a ride, and we were instantly picked up by an Austrian family in a mini-van. The crutch might have helped. Literally, it was an instantaneous hitch. (Note... thru-hikers have to hitch-hike. It is not my favorite part of the gig, but it is necessary)
I have been hearing tales of the Paradise Cafe for several years. They allegedly serve the very best burger of the entire 2600 mile long Pacific Crest Trail. In 2005, I was short on cash when I reached this point, so I continued on without stopping. This morning, we actually arrived at the infamous Paradise cafe too early for lunch... so westuffed ourselves with soda waiting for the magical 11am hour when we could finally order our Jose Burgers. All I can say is Holy Cow!!!! (Or maybe it is a whole cow?) Truly the largest burger I have ever seen. Just for shits and giggles, I piled everything onto the bun that they had laid out on the plate as hamburger fixins... Mushrooms, cheese, half an avocado, jalapenos, bacon, lettuce, pickles, onion, tomato. The burger was literally 12 inches tall!! Whose mouth is that big????? One of the locals suggested smashing the enormous feast down using a dinner plate. So, on camera of course, I dutifully smashed down the burger to a more manageable 5 inch height or so. It really was an amazing burger, and well worth the hype it receives as being the best burger on the PCT. I can't believe I skipped it in 2005.
Many hikers were pouring out of the hills and descending on this little oasis in the desert... Roni, Meadow Mary, Bayou, Amtrack, and so many, many others. It was really quite a festive atmosphere. Stuffed to the gills, we called a local Idyllwild trail angel who drove down and scooped us up. We once again, checked into the Idyllwild Inn (what a great place!!!! Like a hundred times better than the Taquitz!),and set about exploring the town. I ran down to the laundromat and did a quick load... went to the ranger station and debated buying San Jacinto Peak summit patches for Squatch and Sue, but my thrifty nature won out on that score, and it just remains a quirky idea that flitted through my mind.
There are many thru-hikers in town. It makes me feel a bit out of the loop and like a has been. There is a cameraderie that exists between thru-hikers on the trail that is just a bit exclusionary of anyone not thru-hiking. I doubt if it is even on a conscious level, but it really is a very exlusive club.
A Gallery of photographs from the hike can be found here: http://www.pbase.com/splashphoto/san_jacinto