Days 28 to 32 - Idyllwild

Days 28 to 32 Idyllwild

179.4 to 179.4 (0 Miles Hiked)

The next morning, I awoke, made coffee and sat to work.

Around lunchtime I ordered some food from The Lumber Mill, the closest restaurant to my cabin.
Around lunchtime I ordered some food from The Lumber Mill, the closest restaurant to my cabin.
I walked down the hill to The Lumbermill to pick up my take-out. As I walked through the door, I spotted some intense waving and beckoning from a couple deep inside the dining room. It appeared to be Scoop, plus a highly animated woman who I did not recognize. "Odd.", I thought, "that this woman is waving at me so much. I have no idea who she is."

I politely smiled and held up a finger, indicating I'll be right over, but that I need to pay for my food. They nodded and relaxed back into their beers. I, on the other hand, stayed puzzled. I'd only briefly bumped into Scoop twice and had zero idea who this other woman was. I really wasn't sure what to say to them and definitely didn't understand the woman's excitement at seeing me. I grabbed my bag of hot food and walked into the dining room, where I asked Scoop if I could sit with them for a moment and say hello. "Of course!" they said, almost in unison. "We've been really wondering what happened to you!"

"What do you mean? I just saw you yesterday, Scoop. In fact, I'm shocked to see you so quickly. I just saw you at Mike's Place. Did you run here? How you do that?"

I tried to put all my attention on Scoop, as the woman continued turning up endless blanks in my mind. I felt horrible snubbing her, but I really just had no idea who this lady was!

They both turned a bit sour and squingy. "What do you mean? We didn't see you at Mike's Place. We haven't seen you in a few weeks. How are you?!" They tried to throw that last question out as brightly as possible.

My mind was absolutely swirling, at this point. I KNEW I'd seen Scoop at Mike's. I didn't understand what they were saying. It was also abundantly clear that of the three of us, I was the one who was blowing it.

I shifted in my chair and tried to frame my position. I explained where I'd seen Scoop and that I'd taken a mountain limo into Idyllwild. I continued to press my awe at Scoop's speed. He'd seemingly walked as fast as the Excursion. I also just continued talking to Scoop, placing the woman a bit in my blind spot.


They both just seemed so dumbfounded by what I was saying. Again, almost in unison they said, "DJ. We've been here for 2 days. There's no way we saw you at Mike's Place. We haven't seen you in a few weeks. Not since that crazy windy night. We're just so glad you're still out here. How's it going?!" Again, they tried to set their frustrations aside and simply and cheerfully find out how I've been.

My mind continued doing triple reverse somersaults. It scrambled and repeatedly rolled passed all the submissions in its vast murky memory banks.

* AHA! * Right then, someone opened the restroom door and the bright light above the mirror shined powerfully on my face.

"George? Sheila?! Is that YOU?!", I all but shouted. They nodded. Recognition! The connection we were all seeking had now been made. The tension evaporated and was replaced with collective excitement!

"Oh wow!! HELLO! I'm so sorry. I feel just horrible! When I met you guys, you were all wrapped up in these elaborate multi-colored cold weather outfits with buffs covering your faces. I never actually saw what you looked like! HI! How the hell are you guys?!" I smiled the most brilliant and apologetic smile I could.

This had actually happened to me a few times. In the cold and/or in the wind, many people really cover up. Some wear full face masks, while others wear bandanas or buffs, which cover their faces almost completely. This keeps out dust and sand, while also keeping them warm. Some will even go a step further and wear sunglasses or goggles to boot! When the weather turns aggressive, it's almost like being surrounded by brightly colored mummies, all wrapped up and lumbering forward.

I, on the other hand, never changed my clothes, added or removed layers. I never covered my face. I never wore a jacket. I never put on pants. I never removed my hat. I just had my one hiking costume and that was that. I don't like being closed in to a hot sweaty outfit, while I continue to hike in my soup. I'd rather just brave the cold and wind than have that moist confinement sealing me in. Being that I have a thick layer of built in insulation, I can get away with it. The skinny people, though

I mean, how are you really supposed to recognize people when they look like this?!
I mean, how are you really supposed to recognize people when they look like this?!
People covering 100% of their skin can still see the unobstructed world and forget that they, themselves, cannot be seen. They can see me, in all my glory, whereas I'm limited to a range of assorted faceless walking rainbows. Explaining this to George and Sheila returned us back to that crazy windy night on the mountain where George had helped my erect my tent in hurricane force wind gusts. They later pulled me off the mountain in the dark and gave me batteries for my dead headlamp. It's possible they saved me from disaster, that night.

We furiously caught up, shared our stories, I continued to apologize for not recognizing them, then thanked them, again, for helping me that day and night. It was so nice!

Then, after a few minutes, the welcoming and excited energy dwindled into somewhat of an uncomfortable silence as our shared experience seemed to be our only common topic of conversation. Every other line of dialogue outside the events of that sole windy night seemed to fall onto the table top with a thud, followed by another million-year silence. I loved these people. I absolutely could not be more appreciative of the help they gave me that tumultuous night, some 2 weeks before. In that heightened feral situation, these two strangers showed me who they were and they were stunningly beautiful multicolored mummy people.

Maybe because that night had been so intense, anything else between us just felt small and empty. I really don't know quite what it was, but when the exuberance wore off, it was as if we were total strangers, with absolutely nothing to talk about. A car drove by outside. The food in my bag smelled inviting. I tried to convince myself that George looks just like Scoop. I wondered if they'll really try and bring The Office back to TV. A small dog barked in the distance.

Again, I thanked them again. I wished them luck, suggested my food was getting cold and shuffled off to my cabin.

I was in Idyllwild to work. Idyllwild also happens to be a major hiker hang. A lot of people call it the Idyllwild Vortex. People plan to come in, resupply, maybe take a shower or do some laundry, then hit the trail. Instead, they find themselves being sucked into the charm of the town. It's an easy place to just slip into lazy fun.

I primarily focused on computer work, largely including writing and catching up on blog posts (the last 7-ish posts). I also did some shopping, restocking, laundry, showering, healing, etc. I also received a harrowing and delicious sports massage from the chatty Karen Georg at Idyllwild Massage. My body was wrecked and cramping all the time, especially deep in all the painful places. I needed all my muscles brought back into harmony. My fascia had violently shifted. Seeing the hikers in her waiting room, it was clear I wasn't the only one.

Karen gave a wonderful, deep and painful (in the best possible way) massage at her studio.  Note: I am not the subject in this photo.
Karen gave a wonderful, deep and painful (in the best possible way) massage at her studio.  Note: I am not the subject in this photo.
While this was all happening, Sits was continuing his hike from Mike's Place to Idyllwild. Two days later, he arrived in town. We met at Ferro, at Italian Restaurant, with designs set on a pizza. I walked over and found Sits sitting with Radio Rob, a young Christopher Reeves lookalike from Montana. Somehow, Rob seemed to turn up near daily; super friendly, but very low-key and bit on the quiet side. Like George and Sheila, the first time I'd met Rob, he was a big colorful mummy hiking into Julian. This had also merked up our second meeting in the woods.

We ordered our meals and enjoyed a nice dinner at a place far nicer than the pizza joint I'd originally assumed it would be. The service was excellent. The outdoor patio was perfect for a long casual evening. I could swear the frisky waitress was a bit of a chubby chaser. Some of her "robust" comments, free ginger beer and lingering gazes all seemed to send that message. It could also be that I'm just that charismatic, magnetic and charming. It could also be she knows how to slice off a good tip. I'll never know (but I admit to wondering several times)

A clearly popular restaurant, this place was packed.  The food was also excellent.  Check it out if ever in Idyllwild and you have a big ol’ hankerin’ for some polenta!
A clearly popular restaurant, this place was packed.  The food was also excellent.  Check it out if ever in Idyllwild and you have a big ol' hankerin' for some polenta!
After dinner, I ventured off to watch A Quiet Place at The Rustic, while Sits and Radio Rob went bar hopping. A good flick, but I was really hoping for some eerier chills. I walked back to the Sugar Pine cabin wondering why I wasn't as afraid of the dark as I'd hoped I'd be.

These were the highlights of my time in Idyllwild. Sits stayed in a separate hotel but got somewhat sucked into the vortex. He'd planned on hiking out of Idyllwild after just a day but opted for a second night. He stashed his stuff in my cabin and slept outside on the tiny patio (the dude talks to himself and snores like 7 angry bears. I can barely sleep when he's in a tent 50-feet away. Ain't no way I was letting him sleep in the confines of my private 14 square feet. Not if I wanted to sleep anyway )

Sits and I decided that I'd reconnect with him in Cabazon, several miles away, in the desert at the base of the mountains. Yes, this meant I was giving up on a pure thru-hike by skipping the section from Mikes to Cabazon, but I reasoned that the chances I finish the PCT are small and that I'd rather hike with a person than hike alone. If, in October, I truly did finish and arrive in Canada, I can always return to Mike's Place and knock that section out in a few days. A slippery slope

It was time for Sits to head out. He needed a ride to the trailhead. We called all the numbers we had, including the number for Barb. These all went nowhere. One guy's dog was super sick, but offered a ride after the vet, if it went well. Another woman was skeptical and just wanted to know how we got her number. We left messages with 2 other numbers. Nothing.

Finally Sits just decided he was going to walk to the trailhead. It's just 2 miles. He headed out.

Within minutes of his leaving, Barb, the pet sitter and woman who had picked up Good Eye, returned my call. I explained what was happening, then explained I'd love a ride to Cabazon on Saturday. She said she had some potential plans, but that she'd let me know. Then, she went to find Sits hiking along the road. About 20 minutes later, I got a text from Sits saying Barb had found him and had given him a ride.

More about Idyllwild

You know you're somewhere wonderful when the town mayor is a 5-year-old Golden Retriever. That's right. The Idyllwild Mayor is a dog named Max. He runs the unincorporated down with his two deputy mayors, Mikey and Mitzy.

Sadly Mayor Max I passed away in 2013
Sadly Mayor Max I passed away in 2013
Maximus Mighty-Dog Mueller, II is so beloved in Idyllwild he’s been voted Mayor of Idyllwild … forever.
Maximus Mighty-Dog Mueller, II is so beloved in Idyllwild he's been voted Mayor of Idyllwild forever.
Max, Mikey and Mitzy with some Idyllwild Visitors.
Max, Mikey and Mitzy with some Idyllwild Visitors.
Also, it should be said that Idyllwild is a mountain town. It has a giant snaggletooth of a rock sticking out of the mountains way up above it. I tried to get some photos of it, but none really did it justice. Here's a photo I stole

Tahquitz Peak
Tahquitz Peak
There's also a Futuro House in Idyllwild.

Click the link above to read more about these wacky ski chalets.
Click the link above to read more about these wacky ski chalets.
Finally, there’s Idyll-Beast.
Finally, there's Idyll-Beast.
I really loved Idyllwild. I'm looking forward to only spending 1 day there in 2019!

Photo Notes: Because most of my time was spent typing, I didn't get a lot of photos. However, I wanted to showcase Idyllwild in the right light, because it really was just a lovely town filled with warm and friendly people. I cruised around the internet looking for photos that represented my feelings of the place and came up with those above. My own photos were featured 2 posts ago. This is a blog for friends and family. There are no money-making endeavors, here. I'm definitely pilfering these photos, but I'm not aiming to profit. If anyone wants these photos removed, just comment on this post and I'll remove them. That said, I'm really just sayin' good stuff!


leiendecker 5/29/2018
SUBJECT: Re: Days 28 to 32 - Idyllwild Hi DJ, This blog, which was a random email receipt for me, appearing after you were already off the trail, is an amazing piece of writing. It reads like a novelette, and your observations are very interesting. Your style makes the blog interesting. Your Dad wrote with the same style in his blogs, which he turned into books. Your blog has an additional component...written by a starving artist, I think might summarize the feeling. I urge you to publish the entire trip as a book about walking that Trail. Stopping after two hundred miles is a great result, but the lessons you can provide others through your descriptive and inventive prose could make a significant contribution to the hiking literature. In your cook book, you have already demonstrated great skill, and now this. Many people dream of writing a novel, but really have nothing to say. You, on the other hand, have the talent to say lots of things about lots of things. I urge you to continue writing. You have real talent. Gil Leiendecker Sent from my iPad On May 29, 2018, at 5:15 PM, DJ Hikes the Pacific Crest Trail (slowly) > wrote:
Carol Hubbard 5/8/2018
Wow!  Can't wait for the blogging to start again.
Grandma Sandra 4/30/2018

You are doing great DJ, so proud of all you have accomplished.


Hugs, Grandma

Carol Hubbard 4/19/2018
It feels so cool to know someone who had the spirit to dream this walk, the foresight to plan it, and the courage to do it.  
Carol Hubbard 4/18/2018
D.J., keep up the good work.  Hope the knee survives and lets you continue.  Good Luck.