Earlier this month, Ethan and I embarked on a tasty little backpacking trip with 34 of our closest friends from Troop 648. The 3-day/2-night trip consisted of driving up to Idyllwild on Friday, hiking up Devil's Slide on Saturday, and hiking down on Sunday after an overnighter near Skunk Cabbage Meadows. Of course, I insisted on riding the F800GS up while Etho carpooled up with one of the Troop drivers. Yahoo!
I'd dropped Ethan and his gear off with the group leaving San Diego at 6pm, but I didn't hit the road on the bike until 7pm. Leaving town on a Friday evening heading through Riverside to Hemet is always a bad idea, but it's even worse when there's an accident (for no obvious reason) on the I-15 freeway between Fallbrook and Temecula. Luckily I could lane split close to the front, but was dismayed to see a full-dress Harley smashed up against a guardrail.
Turning east on Hwy 79, I headed into the desert on a familiar route to Idyllwild - Aguanga, Anza, Mountain Center. By the time I really got cruising though, it was pitch black. Been a long time since I'd ridden at night, so I thought this was good practice (and incentive to put on some aux. lights one of these days!).
Our first night was to be at Idyllwild Park in town, to keep things simple. I was astonished to be the 2nd vehicle in camp - everyone else got caught in traffic and all stopped for a Dairy Queen through Hemet.
Once everyone was in camp about 45 minutes later, the tents were set up pretty quickly and all were in bed by about 10:30pm.
The Troop tradition on campouts is to serve a "Cracker Barrel" snack to tide everyone over - cheddar cheese and Ritz crackers never tasted so good!
The next morning, once everyone got up and had some muffins & coffee (juice/water for the boys), we fell into a rhythm of taking down the tents and then divvying up the 2-person Troop tents for backpacking. I was going to bunk with a fellow named Chris (whose son is a good friend of Ethan's), so I took my share, got everything sorted and threw my pack into a truck for transport. Did I mention yet that my pack was *wicked heavy*? More on that later...
|Crew #2 on the morn of departure from Humber Park.|
Etho and I had done a "shakedown" hike up Black Mtn near our house with the rest of the Troop, but our packs weren't completely loaded then. Now they were and we were laboring... I'd bought some Leki trekking poles so my aging knees might be spared, but Ethan immediately claimed them for his own. I called dibs on the way down!
|1996: A younger me and my pal who is now in "doggie heaven"|
|1996: Best friend Rod and I - start or finish? (I can't tell)|
|"Window Rock" - nice pic Etho!|
|At the sign we should have turned at!|
About 3/4 of a mile in, around a nob hill, and down further into the meadows, we stopped and a couple of us fanned out to located a suitable campsite and water source. Eureka! A flat area above Reeds Meadow beckoned, with a tiny brook several hundred feet further down in between two hills as further evidence of a good camp.
|Awesome meadows await|
My tent mate turned in a bit earlier than I, but eventually I crawled into the tent through a half-open doorway - the zipper was broken so it would only conveniently open about halfway w/o a lot of noise and workin' it. Eventually I got settled in and fell fast asleep pretty quickly. It had been a tough slog - I'd packed too heavy and actually took on a couple of things from Ethan's pack - but all's well that ends well.
It got hot fast as the sun crested the trees and bore down on us. I took my trekking poles back from Etho, which I credit for helping my aging knees on the way down Devil's Slide trail. Again, Ethan would be very strong on the way down, marching forward and this time keeping pace with one of the 16-year old boys and the adult among us in the best shape. Yeah, I was lagging in the middle or talking with our "sweepers." ;-)
I had left my riding suit and helmet in the 3rd crew leader's truck, so once we arrived at the trail head again I had to wait about 45 minutes to retrieve them before hopping on the F8GS back to San Diego. It was again getting later on in the day, but I still avoided Hemet and went back through Anza - hurrah for Dairy Queen there! - through Temecula and onward south on Hwy 15 backtracing my steps of a couple days prior. The traffic was moving along nicely and a couple of times I jetted forward to keep up with some executive barnstormer in a BMW or crazy person doing triple-digits. Bike felt nice and stable at about 105mph. ;-)
As for Ethan? Despite protests in the beginning and the reluctance at the start of the trail, he had a great time with his friends and just being out in the woods. I think he was glad I was along, but not more glad than I was to be a part of his life in this way. Go Troop 648 - Onward to the beach camp in a few weeks!