PCT Day 6: Mountain fire alternate

April 27

Mile 140.2-179.4 (~32)

From our campsite to Paradise Valley Cafe is 12 miles. We dream about burgers the whole way.

Spider is feeling a little better this morning. It’s cool and windy, a thin veil of cloud covering the sky. I have a hard time getting comfortable and finally give up and listen to podcasts to distract myself.

We reach Hwy 74 and walk a mile north to the Cafe. There are 8 or so hikers here already and we are at the front of a group of 6 or more. So many hikers on this trail. We eat our sloppy, tasty burgers with Tim from Australia and Lily and Emille from France, and later Zucchini and the group of guys we had dinner with last night filter in.

Full and bloated, we hear up for a long road walk to Idyllwild. The trail is closed about 10 miles up due to a 2013 fire. Instead of climbing up just to take a side trail back to the highway, we elect to follow the highway to town. This way is simpler, shaves off a few miles from the alternate, and still allows us to follow a continuous walking path from Mexico to Canada. Other hikers choose to walk the full alternate or hitch up Hwy 74 to town, skipping 15 miles or so.

Walking along the highway is not so bad. A few cars pull over and ask if we need a ride. One is a former thru-hiker and he gives us cold beverages. We take a little break at a campground and Zucchini catches up to us, so we set out for the last 6 miles together. The main highway starts to wind up through the mountain and the shoulder disappears. We book it up the 2 miles until we can turn off to a dirt road through the fire closure to Idyllwild. We swap AT stories as we walk to town.

There’s a state park campground in town and it’s $3 to camp there. We pitch our tent and eat some food with the other hikers here and go to sleep.

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