Tuesday, May 10, 2016

Day 10 : Zero in Idyllwild

0 miles today
2487 miles to go

When you hike every day for nine straight days it's quite a shock to stop and not hike for a day. Especially since a number of my ‘zero-day' chores were completed in the first thirty minutes of arriving in town. The Idyllwild Inn did my laundry. I got and ate most of my pizza. I ate all of my milk and cereal dessert. I even got up in the middle of the night and ate more pizza, because I could! That's what days-off are supposed to be about. Zero-days are my ‘days-off’ from my new job of hiking from Mexico to Canada. 

I awoke at my normal four-thirty am and hop out of bed. I flip the switch and the heater in my cabin pops to life heating the room to a comfortable seventy or so. It's still dark and cold outside. Idyllwild is over a mile above sea-level. This keeps the nights quite chilly. Time to open my resupply box and peruse the contents. I look at the stickers that Vivian helped me stick on the outside and miss her and Charlise and everyone else that is part of my normal non-hiking world. The guy at the front counter found the purple tape and stickers useful in locating my box amid the piles of PCT thru-hiker resupply boxes. Thanks Vivian!

I paw through my resupply food and pull out my food bags. They should be empty but they aren't. Maybe I'm not eating enough? Or maybe I'm off be a day? I debate with myself whether to ditch some food in the local hiker box or hang on to it. I look at my plan for Idyllwild and it says I am to buy two more days of food here. I decide that with the amount of food I already have I don't need to buy anymore to get me to Big Bear. 

Fuel, though, that's a different story I'm down to about one day of fuel remaining. Which is great. I'm not carrying too much. But I need more. Some jurisdictions (one to my knowledge) have banned the use of alcohol stoves. Also the PCTA is discouraging the use of them. This makes sense if you are new to backpacking and a neophyte in the woods. Alcohol stoves require careful and constant attention not something that you simply start doing. If this whole hiking thing is new to you, alcohol stoves are quite dangerous to you and others. Many of the early PCT thru-hikers used alcohol stoves and didn't burn down the forest. There is a proper and careful way to use them that requires experience and practice. I'm using one and need fuel. 

Yogi’s guide says I can buy fuel by the ounce at the hardware store. I am out and about town early, seven thirty or so. I walk to where Yogi’s map said the hardware store was and found it. Thanks Yogi! The store doesn't open until eight. What to do with a half hour, hmmm. Coffee, that sound good. I find the local edition of the local coffee house, Higher Grounds. I get a mocha and a blueberry muffin. Normally I don't get a muffin because I normally am trying not to gain weight. I'm finding that when your job is to walk eight to ten hours a day up and down hills with twenty-fiveish pounds on your back, gaining weight is an impossibility. Trying not to lose too much weight becomes the goal. I enjoy my muffin and coffee. I also upload a few pictures to Instagram from a few days back. Hey, before I know it, it's eight am. Off I go to the hardware store. The sun has arisen high enough to peek over the granite walls that surround this place on three sides. The air temperature is significantly warmer. People wiser than I have now populated the benches and streets. The town has come alive. The hardware store is open with a full compliment of employees. “I'd like to buy alcohol fuel by the ounce,” I say. Well they don't do that anymore. Demand is way down with most hikers opting for canister stoves. I had to buy twelve ounces of Heet instead. That's fine it's just more weight than I want or need to carry.  

A walk back to my cabin on this beautiful morning brings me back to my remaining three pieces of pizza. Awesome, time to try out my dinky stove. First I try turning the oven knob. Hmmm, nothing seems to be happening. Then I try the burners. Ooooo spark igniters, it's more modern than it looks. Open oven door again, watch for flames, sniff for gas, yay! Flames, no gas smell. I heat, then eat my pizza. Drinking more water than I can believe. My lips have been chapped since I arrived and I can't seem to drink enough. This salty pizza isn't helping, or is it? I don't know, sure is good though. 

After nap time I sit with my feet in the sun on my front porch. My front porch for exactly one more hour. Depending on how you look at it I'm getting an upgrade or downgrade. Moved to a king-size ‘hotel’ room. I see it as an upgrade. Gone are the funky wooden walls with everyone carving their ‘true love forever’ hearts, some are from way back in nineteen seventy-seven. Anyway they're all gone. I have a normal room. Albeit with a gigantic stone fireplace. The day is warm, I doubt I'll be lighting a fire in it. My room has a common deck in front with an umbrella-shaded table. I sit under the umbrella with my feet in the sun. I'm planning my water requirements for the next few days. I'd rather not carry more water than I need. I have a pretty big climb tomorrow to the summit on the alternate trail, then back down to a camp somewhere partially down the eight thousand vertical feet of switchbacks on the north side of Mt San Jacinto. All this thinking about work is getting my ice cream appetite up. I walk to the store and find my favorite ice cream, Dreyer's Butterfinger. Only a small fourteen ounces, I won't be carrying it up the trail. Another nap, then hung out with a few other thru-hikers heading out tomorrow. Then I go for a quick burger at a local establishment. Back in my room and early to bed, but not before re-taping my blisters. I'm all set for an early start in the morning. This zero’s been great and now I'm ready to hit the trail.

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