A chilly, cloudy, windy morning made for a brisk 8 mile hike down to Pines-to-Palms highway. The trail went down through some desert, some meadow, and some high brush-type areas, and along a ridge next to some very steep and impressive sandy bluffs. I reached the sandy bluffs just as the clouds were blowing off the hills, and I had some Beatles songs in my head. I was also thinking and praying a lot for my cousin Christopher, who I've decided to dedicate my hike to. He started chemotherapy this week. He's a year younger than me and is a hilarious and good hearted guy. I love him a lot.
Anyway, some steep uphills and downhills made this section of trail interesting, and I got down to the highway at about 10:30. Joanne was already there, Casey & sly weren't far behind me, and the four of us walked the mile along the raod to the Cafe, picking up trash as we went (just for the heck of it, to be good stewards of the earth or whatever. it was pretty funny, by the time we were donw all four of us were carrying so much we couldn't possibly have picked up another scrap or can, and that side of the road was pristine!)
We arrived at Paradise Cafe just as it was opening and ordered some Jose Burgers, their specialty that all the other thru-hikers had been telling us about. Sly got me a rootbeer for sewing his buttons on yesterday, and it was a REALLY good one. Before our burgers were on the table, we received the news that Apache peak and 680 acres around it is on fire up ahead, and due to the high winds it has not been contained yet. Consequentially, the stretch of trail nearby where we were about to hike this afternoon, is closed. So all the hikers are being advised to hitch to the town of Idyllwyld and either wait for the trail to reopen or skip the 40 mile section between the highway and San Jacinto Mountin and pick the trail up again north of there to continue. People all seem generally kind of bummed out to change their plans, but happy to be eating burgers and everyone managed to find rides to town or elsewhere to wait it out. Joanne, Casey and I moved our time in Joshua Tree up a week and waited around for Joanne's friend Caitlyn to get off work and come get us (all day. we were like the welcome wagon for the cafe as hikers came in off the trail) We ate our burgers outside, relaxed, had dessert and some people had Fat Tire beers. We spent a lot of time chatting with other hikers like Gypsy Lulu, who has worked on boats and is very lively and cheerful; Saurkraut, a friendly german guy; and Rosemary and Moonshine, who are newlyweds on their honeymoon. Meadow Mary, a trail angel, was popping in & out, giving rides, and filling people in about the fire. We saw a lot of fire trucks go by. Casey got a ride to Idyllwyld to pick up some packages -- he rode in a police car, which was kind of ironic because his job back home and the cause for which he is hiking is to help out rehabilitating inmates. We finally got our ride to Joshua Tree with Caitlyn around 7:30. Isaac showed up late in the day and got a ride with us to visit some of his friends in Palm Springs. I had a great conversation with him about architecture and urban planning, school, and jobs. He was grateful for the ride. When we got to Caitlyn's we all took showers and went to sleep.