It's been a while since I've had a couple of days to try and wear myself out. A few weeks ago, I gave my wife the weekend off. She stayed at a friend's house for the weekend while they were off travelling. This weekend, it was my turn to spend a weekend however I wanted.
I made it to Idyllwild around 10:30 on Saturday, and immediately turned my attention to some of the roads near town. For this one, it was Forest Service Road 5S10. It was a beautiful morning, at least at this elevation. I drove through quite a few low clouds to get here -- clouds that were swirling and flowing through gaps in trees as I gained elevation on the climb. This was my first time on my bike around Idyllwild. I'm usually content to gravel-grinding on fire-roads, and slowly working my bike up climbs, but there is a lot of singletrack in the area, so next time I'll have to exit the nice gravel road and explore more of the trails.
I ate lunch and got myself a permit for hiking the Marion Mountain Trail. I didn't know if I was doing it now, or the next day, so I got a permit for each. I then made my way to the Marion Mountain Campground, where I checked into my spot. I had the afternoon, but knew there was an increasing chance of rain as the day went on. I wasn't sure if I should do another ride on my bike, or start hiking up the trail, but since I was already at camp along with the start of the trail, I decided to just start hiking.
It's been a long time since I've really hiked. I miss it. I extended my trekking poles and started working my way up the mountain. I soon found a good rhythm, which was honestly a little surprising since I had already done a nice ride with some pretty good elevation gain and I expected to myself to not be in great shape. However, I was able to do pretty well. The clouds were building in more and more, and I gave myself until 3pm to turn around. I wanted to get to the Pacific Crest Trail. Which I did just shortly after 3:00. I was looking forward to hiking along the PCT -- which of course is like a dream to walk on, with it's nice grade.
But, I didn't like the look of the clouds, so I stuck mostly to my 3:00 turn-around time, and started working my way back down the trail. I made it about halfway back before the low rumbles of thunder started ricocheting through the clouds. They weren't distinct clashes of thunder, but really a single, long rumble that lasted for minutes at a time. I quickened my pace, but not quite fast enough. Soon it was raining, and then pouring, and then hailing. I jogged down sections of trail, and tried to decide if I should stop to put on some rain gear. Stopping meant more time in the rain, and I was close to the car so I just wanted to get there. Of course, it's never quite as close as you think it is when you just want to get there, but eventually I hit the campground, made it to the car, and dove in.
It took a while to get changed out of my soaking clothes, and re-organize the car which had my wet hiking gear strewn about. I got some warm clothes on as my wife sent me pictures of her beautiful pasta dinner and glass of wine that she had made for herself back in the warmth of our house. It was one of those moments that makes you question your choices, but even though I was damp, slightly cold, and feeling lonely, it was still good to be out. I need to go play every once in a while, to give my body a workout, and just have some time where I'm able to do whatever I want to do.
The rain slowly died down as the evening wore on. I briefly headed into town to grab a dinner, but quickly returned, spent some time working on some projects of mine, unfolded the tent which now lives on top of our car, and had a pretty good night's sleep.
I love sunny mornings after a night of rain. I love the way the sun glistens off of the wet surfaces, steam rising off of the pavement. I had a nice slow morning -- made some breakfast, walked around the campground, looked at leaves and the clouds swirling up from the valleys below. Slowly organized the car and took my time packing up. A couple cups of coffee.
I then headed on my next mini-adventure. I drove down to the Dark Canyon Campground, found a place to park, and rode out the road towards the Seven Pines Trailhead. I really enjoyed the road – it was a decent climb, but never really felt too steep, and the views were great. Once reaching the top, I took a side-road that was no longer open to vehicles until it ended and the main road ends at private property, so I was forced to make my way back to the car. I would have loved to kept pedaling out more roads like this one.
I found a sunny spot to park the car, and set up our roof-top tent to dry out from the night's rain. It gave me a little more time to soak in my weekend before heading back home. It felt like a very successful solo trip. I was able to pack in a few adventures over the weekend, and I felt more active than I have in a long time. I'll be eyeing the calendar for another weekend where I can do a similar trip.