Sunday, April 07, 2019 – 13 miles
After trying for almost an hour to hitch a ride up Highway 243 this morning, staring meaningfully at drivers who steadfastly avoided eye contact, I gave up and decided to walk to Black Mountain Road. Since part of Highway 243 is closed because of washouts, I would have had to walk part of the way anyway, but I was hoping to at least get a ride to Pine Cove. I intend to return to hike the bit of PCT I’m bypassing, so I’m not devoted to walking 100% of the alternate.
The highway walk required care because of narrow shoulders but was scenic, passing through the tiny town of Pine Cove.
I bought lemonade at the gas station, which sells a wide variety of drinks/snacks and hosts three more of the painted deer that were everywhere in Idyllwild.
I asked whether there was a washroom and the clerk thought that I meant shower or laundry. What’s the standard word in the United States, ‘restroom’ or ‘bathroom’? Privy? Water closet? There was a water closet (undeniably the best word) and he gave me the key. After sitting on the curb to drink my lemonade, I continued walking.
Sparse to begin with, traffic dwindled to almost nothing beyond Pine Cove. Most of the vehicles were the highway workers’ trucks, which often moved in flocks of two or three identical vehicles. How many trucks are required to repair a highway? Based on what I saw today, roughly 50,000. The start of the closure was marked by two barricades with a cluster of trucks parked on a nearby pullout. The friendly highway workers let me pass right away.
Before Black Mountain Road were several repaired washouts. I was expecting them to be at the major creeks, but one water source was a trickle and the other was a dry ravine. I suppose the highway was built to accommodate the larger creeks but not the small ones. Admittedly, walking on a deserted highway was cool. Like, when do the zombies arrive?
Black Mountain Road is a slog, rising 2000 feet in four miles, but I enjoyed the section I walked today with its views of Mt. San Jacinto and increasing quantities of friendly flat snow.
I found a place to camp on pine needles. No wet tent bottom for me tonight!