Just Keep Walking: Mountain Valley Retreat to Idyllwild

Day 8: Mountain Valley Retreat to Mike’s Place

Miles: 26.1

Steps: 68,012

Back on the trail on day 8, after a wonderful Zero Day! A lot of folks had to wait around over the weekend because the post office was closed. Thankfully, Chery had picked my package up for me, so I was all packed and ready! After a beautiful morning hike with new friends I met at the retreat, I ran into so old friends at Eagle Rock (mile 106ish). 


It’s so great running into friends you met several days prior. 

I made a pit stop at 2footadventures (an awesome airstream trailer that sells backpacking essentials) in Warner Springs, about 8 or so miles after I left Mountain Valley Retreat. So, when I came into Warner Springs, I met up with more people I had previously been hiking with. I thought I would run into them hiking later that day, but during my 26 mile trek, I barely crossed paths with another soul. I was completely alone for 15 of the miles. A friend can be 5 miles ahead of you and you might not catch up with them for days, if ever. Kind of a strange thought. 


Day 8 was an interesting change of scenery. I walked through a boulder field. Reddish orange rocks surrounded me; some as big as a house! I was planning on stopping after 20 or so miles, but like most times on the trail, the plan went out the window. Dark clouds started to roll in; the wind picked up, as I was constantly having to hold onto my hat. I knew I needed to get shelter, or it could turn into a very miserable evening. So, 26.1 miles later, I made it to Mike’s place, after reading reviews on the Guthook’s App. 

Mike’s Place is a house owned by a trail angel who opens his house to hikers. 

Hikers taking zero days will cook all sorts of food for all the other hikers. There is also beer and soda. As I strolled up, I saw the smiling faces of my friends that I ran into at Warner Springs. They greeted me with excitement and my heart was so happy and full, as was my belly. 

We cowboy camped on the porch that evening… my first time cowboy camping (camping without a tent, only a sleeping bag and sleeping pad). 

There were about 20-30 hikers there, some on the porch, some in tents. It was very windy and a cloud took over the house for the majority of the night, but still my favorite night. 

Day 9: Mike’s Place to Mile 144

Miles: 17

Steps: 47,572

After being completely alone the day before, and honestly, a bit lonely, it was nice to hike with others again. This honestly surprised me. I thought I wanted to come hike the PCT alone and would want to get away from others, but it’s quite the opposite. I still need my alone time, but feeling part of a group on the PCT is something I’ve never experienced. My two friends were packing up and I asked them if they were heading out. One of them said, “well, whenever you’re ready, we are a team now”. 

I don’t know if they will ever know how much that meant to me, and still does. I’ve never been the popular one with tons of friends. I have to invite myself half the time, to be included. I hate small talk, I’m introverted and a bit socially awkward, so I get it. However, I don’t have to ask to be included on the trail. We all look out for each other. I am part of many teams on the trail, all of which I love. They wait for me, look out for me, share with me (as I share with them) and this is all something I’ve never really experienced. Oh the trail love. 

The three of us, a team… that has a nice ring to it… headed out on the trail. 

We continued to cross paths with several of our other friends throughout the day, which was much more enjoyable, than the lonesome day prior. 

The wildflowers surrounded our every step. I couldn’t get over their beauty. 

Each so individually different, making me turn my head every second. 

We ended the day with a beautiful camp site. 


The time with friends, after a long day of hiking, is pretty special.

We were all set up by 530, making dinner and we’re looking forward to the sunset, until we all simultaneously looked down at our watches, realizing that watching the sunset would mean staying up for another 2 hours. 

It was a struggle to stay up, that’s for sure! 

Day 10: Mile 144 to Paradise Cafe

Miles: 7.8

Steps: 34,729

I woke up to a beautiful sunset, in which was almost over, by the time I rolled my lazy butt out of bed! The three of us packed up and set forth for the 9, hopefully easy, miles ahead of us. 

One of my favorite parts about today was the PCT library, in the middle of nowhere! 

Unfortunately, there was a fire closure just past Paradise Cafe (Mile 151.8). There was a longer route that was labeled as a detour for the fire closure, but everyone at Paradise Cafe, hitched to Idyllwild. Their argument was, either way, you wouldn’t be doing the PCT, and I agreed. We all hitched to idyllwild and unfortunately, had to skip 28 trail miles because of the fire closure. Had I been by myself, I might have taken the detour, but I have no regrets. 

The food at Paradise Cafe was pretty amazing. And yes, I ate all of that and was still hungry.

We took all took that night, and following days off. Woohoo zero days! Sadly, one of our beloved team members had to get off the trail due to an injury, but once he is healed he will be catching back up. 

Looking forward to your return pal! 

Day 11: Idyllwild Zero Day

What are zero days filled with? Laundry, grocery store runs, organizing food, hanging out with friends and resting all injuries/sore feet! Although trail days are quite spectacular, I do enjoy zero days with friends as well. 

I also enjoy the furry friends I meet along the way. Idyllwild was such a dog friendly community! 

Not only is Idyllwild dog friendly, but also PCT hiker friendly. It was just such a wonderful community. 

Although the time off was fun, my heart and healed body, were ready to be back on the trail. Next stop, Big Bear! 

The biggest climbs of the trial so far lie ahead. How will my legs handle the ascent? Read next week’s blog to find out! 

7 thoughts on “Just Keep Walking: Mountain Valley Retreat to Idyllwild

  1. Hi Daniele, I am continuously looking forward to your blogs, and pictures. Glad to know you are safe, and in best of spirits. Pictures are great, your commentaries ….personable, and enjoyable to read. Continued safe travels, and will look forward to hearing from you, again. 😊

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I enjoy your pics and blogs a lot!! I can’t believe the size of the rocks! it also looked like it cooled down which was nice. Hopefully not a lot of closures. Rock on!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. The PCT is speaking to you and giving you just what you need as it does for most on the trail. It is often the simple things that give us the most pleasure in life.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I love that you are experiencing one of the best things about the PCT: the people. I spent ~80% of my time alone on the PCT and still met some of the best people I hope to be friends with for life. If you simply want scenery or a physical challenge, there are better ways to get those, but the people make the PCT special.

    A quick side note: I’m following a several different hikers through their blogs on various long distance trails right now since I won’t get to do my own long distance hike this year. Your blog is by far the best! Keep up the good work.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Awe that’s sooo nice of you!!! Thank you so much!! You definitely made my day! I’m glad you hear you think the people are the best part of the trail. It’s been hard trying to find a balance between spending time with people and hiking. I’ve found I really like to hike alone, but spend time with people at lunch and the end of the day. Thank you for your support and for following along! Congrats on hiking the entire trail!

      Like

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