Palm Springs to Paradise Cafe – day 6

Trip report by BestHike editor Rick McCharles

Day 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6

Another fantastic campsite. Great weather again.

Here are views looking up from my tent.

Majestic.

I’d been steadily descending from the snowy heights. Vegetation now changing rapidly.

My only health worry was hot foot. Would I get blisters?

Just in case I took off the shoes every hour or two.

I’ve used the same pack for many a year – the super light frameless Granite Gear Virga 2.

The similar Granite Gear Crown2 is the 5th most popular on the PCT. My next pack will be a Hyperlite, the 3rd most popular. It’s heavier but near waterproof. And more durable, I reckon.

Cactus.

Here’s one of the main reason people buy the Guthook app — to find off-trail water in the desert.

Though I treated this pipe water, it did look and smell great in April.

Water is scarce. Researchers use watering holes to check on the health of mammals in the area.

Successful in the desert are birds, snakes and lizards.

Down, down.

Into the trees.

Here’s where PCT hikers often get their water. GIFTS from Trail Angels.

I finally reached the first road. Would the mini-resupply I’d hung in a tree still be there?

YES!

I had enough food for the final 40 miles to Warner Springs. Yet I diverted one mile down the highway to famed Paradise Cafe.

My camp fuel was running low. I didn’t think I could make it two more days.

Unfortunately Paradise does not sell camp fuel. I returned to the trail hoping my Jetboil Flash would run on fumes.

Back on the PCT, I made it another couple of miles.

It looked like wind and rain so I set up my broken tent high enough in the wash to avoid flash flood.

As I feared, my stove fuel ran out before I could boil water for dinner. 😞

___ day 7

Weather forecast for today was for rain and very big winds. Not good.

I started south. Stopped. Then turned around and headed back towards Paradise.

Skipping the next 40 miles meant missing most of the desert wildflower bloom. Too bad.

Three reasons for quitting on my intended route:

  • broken tent
  • no stove fuel
  • weather forecast

The restaurant was packed. As usual.

I ended up seated with a tourist couple from Philly. As they were headed for Palm Springs I offered to pay for breakfast in exchange for a lift to town.

My PCT week was over. After breakfast.

Despite glitches — I really enjoyed hiking southbound on the PCT during peak season. The highlight was seeing hundreds and speaking with dozens of normal people whom — for one reason or another — wanted to try to hike from Mexico to Canada.

They are inspiring.

Day 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6

Palm Springs to Paradise Cafe – day 3

Trip report by BestHike editor Rick McCharles 

Day 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6

Having hiked 1 day and 2 hours so far … I took a zero in Idyllwild, California. 😀

Most PCT hikers take a zero in Idyllwild. It’s one of the most popular towns on the PCT. Party time. But most hikers have put in 10 hard days or more to get here.

Civilization

I hadn’t planned on taking a zero. I was fresh.

But the day prior my beloved MSR Hubba tent pole broke in two places. It took a couple of hours, one splint and plenty of duct tape to hack a fix.

There’s one good gear shop in Idyllwild – Nomad Ventures.

By the time I got the tent fixed and packed up … it was Noon.

The library opened at Noon. Free internet. A chance to fully charge all my electronics. I couldn’t resist. One thing led to another and …

… the library closed at 5pm. Too late to get back on the trail.

I returned to the $5 PCT camping area and set up my fragile tent. Again.

Reportedly the least expensive rooms in town were $150 / night. And were full.

Dinner was rotisserie chicken, my favourite townie food. And then I headed over to Higher Grounds Coffee Shop for LIVE music on Friday night.

I hung around the campfire until 10pm. That’s an hour later than usual. Hiker midnight is 9pm.

PCT hikers were in holiday mode. One insisted I have a beer.

OK.

Day 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6

Jetboil MiniMo – my fave stove

In recent years I’ve been using the JetBoil MiniMo.

I cook and drink out of the one pot.

I love the convenience of the piezoelectric igniter. The auto-igniters on early JetBoils FAILED quickly, but they seem to have solved that problem now.

You can fit an 8oz canister in the wider pot of the MiniMo. You can also fit a 4 oz canister along with the MiniMo’s burner in its pot sideways. That’s handy.

I don’t need simmer so that’s not a selling point for me.

The MiniMo replaced my much used MSR Reactor.

The best thing about the Reactor is that it is NOT locked on to the stove. I find it safer.

MSR Reactor

Both those stoves might be nearing end-of-life. … Or they may keep working for another decade. Both are bashed up.

So in advance of my recent, remote Patagonia trip I bought a new stove …

JetBoil Flash.

I hadn’t realized it had a colour changing boil indicator. Cute. I did watch.

But I found myself more often boiling over my dinner in the Flash. For me the larger capacity MiniMo is just right. And the MiniMo is easier to clean.

Adventure Alan likes the MiniMo best, as well.

Read about other, lighter options here

related – Outdoor Gear Labs review – JetBoil MiniMo

my favourite hiking meal

Most nights tenting in the backcountry I cook up the same basic dinner:

Instant mashed potatoes with instant soup (often Knorr brand).

Instant mashed potatoes are available in small grocery shops the world over as is instant soup.

United Kingdom

To keep gear as light as possible I cook, eat and drink out of one pot.

I carry only one metal spoon. No knife, fork or spork.

To enhance the fairly bland base meal I add chilli powder or lemon pepper. Then something like peanuts, raisins or tuna.

I never seem to tire of this grub. Cook up is fast using very little fuel. Clean-up quick and easy.

Huemul Route, Fitz Roy, Argentina – day 4

trip report by BestHike editor Rick McCharles

Huemul Route – day 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | info

Day 4 was my walkout back to El Chaltén. Everyone hikes counter-clockwise.

Here’s the whole circuit visiting the Southern Patagonian Ice Field.

Circuit map via Travel 2 Walk

Very atypical for me, I didn’t sleep well.

And it rained on and off through the night.

Happily the sun came out about the time I got out of the tent.

Despite my efforts of the previous day, I’d only saved about an hour by hiking past the designated campground. I could still see the glacier. And there was again a rainbow. 🙂

The trail continued in parallel to the Lake Videma shoreline thorough dry grasslands.

Though still beautiful, this was the least impressive day, I’d say. Not much variety.

The highlight was rabbits more rabbits. And one non-rabbit. He may have been a Patagonian mara.

When I caught a glimpse I assumed it was a plains viscacha, but it was more likely a mara.

I was looking forward to the second Tyrolean Traverse.

Arriving alone, I found the pulley was at this, the far side of the river. 😕 There SHOULD have been a slim rope attached to pull it over to the start on the other side.

What to do?

I knew I could walk to the lake and (probably) wade the river mouth. But figuring a way across was more fun.

My alternatives:

1. Attach my pulley carabiner directly to the cable (rather than the pulley)

2. Use ONLY my steel carabiner (normally a redundant safety system). This is what the guide did once on our first Traverse.

I went with #1 thinking it was the safer option. That worked. But I had to pull myself every inch with friction from the carabiner resisting. It was exhausting.

Here are some guys wading.

Walk Patagonia

From there it was easy to find my way down to the Bahía Del Túnel dock.

This boat takes tourists to the Videma glacier.

I saw no people. No vehicles. So stayed on the ‘trail’ headed towards a ranch.

Actually, my hiking map showed the trail ending at the dock. Some probably walk the (much longer) road to town.

I could find no trail. Instead I worked my way through more grasslands in the direction of El Chaltén.

Ready to be done, I stumbled on to this calf. It was the second dead cow I’d seen.

When I hit the first fence, being a polite Canadian, I tried to walk around the ranch.

That was a mistake. In the end I hopped about 5 fences and opened one gate. It wasted at least another hour. I should have hopped the first fence and headed directly to the highway.

It was with satisfaction and relief that my final fence hop delivered me to this roadside lookout.

From there was an easy 3km to town on pavement.

I dropped my registration form at the Parks information office. They seemed happy to see I had survived.

With a big smile on my face I returned my rental Tyrolean Traverse harness to ‘Camping Center’ in town. That was the only gear rental store I could find that doesn’t close for siesta.

It was back to the hostel for a long, hot, long shower. 🙂

YES my hostel had a 24 hour a day restaurant! It’s popular with the late night partying backpacker crowd.

All I’d consumed this day was coffee. At 6:30pm I splurged on a huge meal. Breaded chicken a lo pobre.

The Huemul Route out of Fitz Roy, Argentina is superb. Some of the best vistas of my life. One of the very best hikes in the world.

____

If you are worried at all about the Traverses … and navigation, consider signing on with a guided group. Chalten Mountain Guides, for example.

related:

For a MUCH BETTER trip report – Travel 2 Walk: El Chaltén – Fitz Roy and Huemul Circuit, March 2017. (They did it again January 2019!)

bookmundi – Argentina 2019 – Huemul Circuit Parque Nacional Los Glaciares of Argentine

If you prefer your trip reports in video format, here are a few to check out.

Click PLAY or watch it on YouTube.

Click PLAY or watch it on YouTube.

Click PLAY or watch it on YouTube.

Huemul Route – day 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | info