Exactly one mile east of the trail at Hwy 74 (mile 152) lies a hiker haven called Paradise Cafe. As Tuesday is their one day closed during the week there was a lot of talk as to whether or not it would be open. Luckily I heard from Wendy further up the trail who said the cafe was open until 3pm today. I hadn’t planned to go but after my feet were giving me grief I figured it would be the perfect spot to give them a rest!
It was a cold windy morning so I made coffee and breakfast just outside my tent so I could remain in my sleeping bag. I was on the road by 6:30am and only half a mile from the water cache. I only took 3 litres this time which helped a lot once the trail started climbing through the mountains again.
I felt fantastic for the first 7 miles, then my feet really started to ache. I think they were complaining about the 20 mile day yesterday. I usually stop at intervals to take off my shoes and give them a good massage which helps a lot, especially this time before the one mile road walk to the cafe.
I considered hitching but wasn’t really sure what to do. At first I just hoped someone would stop, then I tried facing the traffic and smiling before I got enough courage to stick out my thumb. After three cars sped past I decided to give it up and walk. I hope my attempts improve as the distances to town increase.
I had the Jose Burger which everyone raves about in Yogi’s guide, without jalapeños. It was quite delicious, but that and a lemonade played havoc with my hiker food accustomed stomach, all the more reason to lie in the shade for the afternoon before putting in a few more miles.
I got a message from Chris this afternoon saying he had called the Paradise Cafe to ask them to leave his resupply box outside as he expected to get there this evening. When I was half a mile heading back to the trail I realised I could pick up the box and take it back to the trail with me to save him the 2 mile walk. When I got back to the cafe I met a guy called White Lightning who immediately said “you must be Muk Muk!” He had been hiking with Chris but sped ahead to try and reach the cafe before it closed. He said not to worry about taking the box as they were going to meet at the cafe, but for my troubles I managed to hitch a ride back to the trail in the back of a van next to a couple of surfboards with a man named Bill.
I had a day hiker follow me for the first 3 miles after the cafe and ask me all sorts of questions about the trail. I had just tried putting two insoles in my shoes and because I was chatting I ignored the pain on the top of my right foot until it had created a painful gash over my big toe. When the other hiker left I got fed up with the pain in my feet, threw down my hiking poles and tore off my shoes. I decided the only way I could keep going was to wear my trusty purple Frocs. As difficult as they were to walk in, especially given the steep rocky incline I was travelling on, they actually felt a lot better and spurred thoughts of new footwear possibilities. I walked over 5 miles in my Frocs before I came to the steep rocky trail down to the Live Oak Spring which I’m camped on now. It’s 22 miles to Idyllwild so I won’t make it tomorrow like I’d hoped but I have plenty of food to keep me going. I even dropped off about four dinners and a few extra bits in the hiker box at the cafe to lighten my load.