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Jack and Barb
Begins: Apr 17, 2011
Date: Wed, May 4th, 2011
Start: Mile 176
End: Mile 191
Daily Distance: 15
Trip Distance: 190.6
Entry Visits: 1,855
Journal Visits: 385,625
Guestbook Views: 167,217
Guestbook Entrys: 482
Boo and The Kid Tackle the Ridge
We have learned from experience that what might be hairy and scarey for one person might be a cakewalk for another. Last January when we were here in Idyllwild, we checked in at the Ranger station and the ranger said that we could never make it up Devil's Slide trail without crampons. Well, we did and it was no big deal.
During a heavy snow year, there is always a lot of hype surrounding Fuller Ridge. There will be some reminants of snow on the North facing side of the ridge and it could be dangerous. We had to see for ourselves.
Originally, we were going to hike over to the saddle junction then, head down Devil's Slide trail, hang in Idyllwild for a day or two then get an early start back to Humber Park, up the Slide Trail and over to Fuller Ridge. But The Boo had a better idea. Why not set ourselves up near Tahquitz, get a very early start, nail the North face of Tahquitz and continue on to Fuller Ridge all in one day. The trail would take us down to Black Mountain campground where we could Yogi a ride back to Idyllwild. We would then avoid the Slide trail altogether.
So, yesterday we pushed as hard as we could to get as close to Tahquitz as we could. We found a great campsite with the Kiwi couple (the SPOT signal didn't make it up as it was blocked by trees), and set the alarm for 4am.
We are getting this campsite breakdown operation more efficient. We wake up, get dressed in the tent, eat a cold breakfast (cereal with Nido or an Oatmeal on the Run bar),stuff the bags, and deflate the air mats before even going outside. This is all done by headlamp. Once outside, we pack up the packs, break down the tent and we are off.
This morning was timed perfectly. We were hiking toward Tahquitz at first light. The Kiwi couple were snoring as we quietly passed by.
We quickly found the creek at mile 176.6 and loaded up with enough water to get us over to the ridge.
The trail around Tahquitz was covered in snow. We got lost two times but the GPS saved us and got us back on track. The snow was hard and our Katoolas worked perfectly. The going on snow, especially climbing,was slow but we reached the meadow and saddle junction without any major problems. At the saddle junction we tried to call our friends Rick and Pat and tell them of our new plans. The cell signal was sketchy, so the kid started climbing boulders at the head of Devil's Slide.
TTK: *I figured if I could get a bit higher, over the trees, we could make a connection with the town. I set down my hiking poles at the base of the boulder field and climbed up and over. No dice. I could get 1X and one bar but could not get a phone connection. So after about 30 minutes of messing with the phone I gave up. But then we had to hunt for my hiking poles. Now where did I put them? Oh, I was so pissed! We lost about 30 minutes there*
We did manage to get reception about a mile up the trail. We called our friends and made a call to JJ (remember him from the Paradise Cafe?). We said, *Hey JJ, we are doing the ridge today and wonder if you could possibly pick us up at Black Mountain Road.* JJ is such a great guy. He lives in Pine Valley, near Idyllwild. He said no problem, just lite off your SPOT when you come out and I'll come looking for you.
Boo Boo: The trail was clear and fast for about 3 miles. We got lost in the snow for a bit near the Strawberry Jct sign at mile 181 but only lost a few minutes. The GPS saved us again. Then we had a series of river crossings. We were on snow now, following footprints and the GPS track. We would not have done this section without a GPS loaded with the PCT track. If one gets off course here, finding the route would be very difficult unless you were a very good map navigator.
The rivers were pumping. We think it was at mile 185 or 186 we were confronted with a fairly difficult crossing. There were a couple of boulders one could hop, over this fast torrent. It was about 15 feet wide. Boo jumped first and nailed it, grabbed a hand hold but instantly realized that trying to get a grip on rock with Katoolas was near impossible. She sat down on the rock in the middle of the river, the water dropped off below us for about 10 feet. There were more boulders below, one slip and you would slip and bounce on down and into the river.
Boo: I was concerned. I thought it was a stupid thing for us to do. We could have gotten hurt. It would have been a good 10 foot fall. I guess I didn't realize the Katoolas would be that slippery on rock.
TTK: I was suprised as well. We have never tested these things on rock. Yes, it makes sense that they would offer no grip on wet,slanted rock. I leaped over to Boo and with a quick move, jumped on over to the next boulder. I was then able to set one foot on a small knob for support and could help belay Boo as she came over.
Boo: When I made the move over to the kid's rock, my feet slipped out from under me and I started sliding down the face of the rock. Fortunately, we grabbed arms and the kid swung me over to safety.
TKK: We talked about it for awhile after we continued on. The FearOMeter suprisingly was low, maybe a 1 or 2. But the excitementOmeter was at least a 7!
We went on, as quickly as we could, over long stretches of open trail, up and down then back up again. We confronted some snow and Barb wanted to use the ice Axes.
Boo: We carried these damn things all the way from Warner, so I was determined to use it. OK, we used it and it was easier and safer with the poles, so after about 5 minutes, we put the axes away, not to be used again today.
TKK: When we thought it was all over, the trail took us up for *One last twist of the knife* and over to the North side of the mountain. It was covered with snow.
Boo: And, it was 2pm, late in the day and the snow was slushy and slippery. We were mostly following steps made by others but you still had to edge the inside of your foot into the snow bank to keep from slipping.
The Kid took one slip, it was a nuisance slip. He dug his fingers into the snow to self arrest, about 15 feet below the trail. Then he had to kick steps back up to the trail.
The last few miles before the road crossing were the hardest. We were probably doing an average of 1 mph from mile 187 to 189 but we finally reached the road at about 5pm. We were able to call JJ from the road crossing. Bad news. JJ didn't think his old car could make it up the *for high clearance vehicles* road.
We had one cup of water left. JJ told us to start walking and he would meet us at the highway. OK, we take it as it comes.
TTK: I looked at the GPS. Sure it was mostly downhill but wow, look at all the twists and turns. Hell, this old dirt road must be 8 miles long! And we were whipped! I didn't have the heart to tell the boo what was in store for us. So we started marching down Black Mountain Truck Trail road. There was absolutely no traffic and no people. In a word, we were in for an epic.
We came across a small stream of water crossing the road and running down a metal drainage. Water is water. We stopped and collected two liters of water, pened it and continued on. After about 2 miles, we heard a car coming.
IT WAS JJ! He was pushing his little Accord to the limit. Boy were we so glad to see him! The Kid gave him a big hug and said "I Love You, Man!" Boo was calling him *Saint JJ*.
He took us right to the front door of the Idyllwild Inn. We got a room for two nights, ran out for some take out Mexican before everything closed, took very long hot showers, and remarked just how lucky we have been so far on this adventure.
We hiked for about 12 hours (not counting the road walk), covered 15 miles, and climbed about 2,900 feet. It was a very hard day.
Next: Cinco de Mayo - Chillin' with Rick and Pat
Jack And Barb Take On The PCT
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