Hiking with Holly

Idyllwild: Devil’s Slide to Tahquitz Fire Lookout – Oct 2018

In desperate need of some therapy, we make the decision to head to one of our favorite places to hike.  Idyllwild is an adorable mountain town about 1 1/2 hours away from where we live.  I spent a summer there when I was 11 at the Idyllwild School of Music and the Arts and have loved it ever since.  It is close enough for us to make a day trip, or if we have more time, we have stayed in town or up on the mountain itself!

The predicated high temp is 65.  We are super happy and ready to roll.  We get our permit from the ranger station and head up to Humber Park (6185 ft elevation).  Devils’s slide is a hike we have done many times and is always a great training hike if you are prepping for an upcoming trip (which we are).

As I am sitting in the rear hatch area of our Subaru, Gannon walks over to me and says, “My boots must have shrunk. They are really tight”.  He can’t figure out why that would be.  OK….boots don’t shrink.  I look at the boots and exclaim, “You are wearing Cordlan’s boots”!  Haha!  Great, how is he going to hike in too tight of boots?  I offer to go home as it can be quite painful to hike in tight shoes.  He declines and says he can deal with it.

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Suicide Rock

We now start the climb and make our way higher and higher up the trail.  The views are getting really good as we become level with Suicide Rock.  We leapfrog with a younger couple that are from the SD area also.  He has rock climbed Tahquitz peak before and now came back to hike it with the woman he was with.  We weren’t sure if they were married, dating, or friends?  It’s funny the things that you talk and speculate about when you are with friends/family.  The woman is getting tired and has to take frequent stops.  They keep asking how many more miles until the saddle.  At almost 3 miles we make it to Saddle Junction.  A lot of people turn around from there and go back down.  And that’s what Gannon wants to do as well.  But it is only 1:15pm and I do not feel ready to go back home yet.

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We are eating our lunch and enjoying the quiet.  I talk Gannon into going over to the Fire Lookout to see what damage was caused from the Cranston Fire that started in July. We could see some of the burn area on our drive over, but wanted to get a bigger idea of the extent of it. We run into the couple again on the trail over there and again they want to know how far it is to the lookout.  We estimate another 2 miles and wish them well.  I am feeling super good about myself about now, as we are actually passing people and doing better than people younger than us!  This never happens.  Hooray for us!!

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Burn line

As we make our way past a familiar spot, we notice the burn line directly in front of us.  The area where we camped in 2016 is burnt and it’s just soo sad to us.  We make our way along the ridgeline and are now looking down at Tahquitz Peak.  It is far below and it’s crazy to think we have hiked this far up already today.

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Tahquitz Peak highlighted by the sun.
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Looking up at Tahquitz Peak from the bottom at Humber Park.

At the lookout (At its elevation of 8,846 feet is the highest lookout in the San Bernardino National Forest. It is also the forest’s longest continuously operated station and is the only lookout located inside a Wilderness area. To read more about it click here.), the volunteer invited us up to have a better view.  My fear of heights is usually never good on those things, but it was worth it to see the extent of damage the fire caused.  Soo much beautiful forest was gone.  Places that we have hiked or biked in the past were totally destroyed.  The volunteer was telling us how he was there when it was burning right up to the lookout.  Thank goodness for all the hardworking, dedicated firefighters for containing and putting out the fire.  The loss could have been soo much more, including the town.

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I got my photo of my maszkcot up on the lookout railing and now it was time to head out.  Clouds were rolling in and it was getting cold.  As we headed down, we ran into an older couple that wanted us to not discourage them and tell them it was not much further to the top! And it really wasn’t, so that was easy.

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The way down to the saddle felt like it was taking a bazillion years.  How is this happening?  No way did we go this far.  But obviously we did.  I keep thinking we were at the saddle, and then it would be nope…not yet.

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Cool fungus at the base of a tree

As we finally make our way down Devil’s Slide, my foot started hurting pretty bad.  Every step is getting more and more painful.  I am judging how far we have to go based on seeing how level we are with Suicide Rock.  Again, it is taking forever.  Gannon is now hurting too (tight boots) and getting tired.  I can’t say too much, because I got us into this.  It was my idea to do this many miles and this much elevation gain/loss today.  I guess I was a bit too ambitious considering we have not hiked like this in awhile.

The end of the trail could not have come quick enough and what sweet, sweet relief it is!  Thank you Jesus.  My right foot now hurts and my left foot is totally killing me.  I take some Advil and have a rest.  We see the older couple come down and they thank us for the encouragement as they made it to the top!

We do our best to look presentable and head to a restaurant that we really like called Idyology.  They have great food in a casual environment.  Burgers and tater tots hit the spot and we head back home.  It is an amazing sunset and we pull over to catch it.  I take a photo as the sun is setting behind a dead/burnt tree, which makes for a haunting silhouette.

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