Palms to Pines: A Visit to Idyllwild

Sadly, all vacations come to an end.  After saying goodbyes to friends with whom I felt closer now, it was time for Denise and I to leave Palm Desert.  We picked the highway headed through the mountains to Idyllwild, where we would rendezvous with another old friend and former firefighting comrade, Scott. The drive was dramatic in the beginning as we wound through many tight turns to climb out of the desert and move into the cooler pine forests of the San Jacinto Mountains.

As it turns out, Idyllwild is a classic cute mountain town filled with log cabins and faux Swiss chalets. We had a great lunch with Scott, who had just officially become a firefighter in Idyllwild.  Denise wanted to get some computer work done, so she found a great cafe, while Scott pointed me towards a trailhead before returning to the fire station. I drove uphill and found a trail with little trouble. Unfortunately, once I was up there I realized that I didn’t have the correct parking pass. I just hoped I wouldn’t get a ticket, and I headed up, feeling the elevation as I started up hill.  Idyllwild itself is a hair over a mile high, so the trail must have started about 6000 feet.  It  had been many months since I’d hiked at that altitude.  I know it’s not that high in the greater scheme of things, but I was huffing and puffing fairly hard at first.  It is as though I need to warm my engine up, and then I can hike all day.

As soon as I embarked on the trail, I saw a sign mentioning a wilderness permit. One more omission. On Mount Hood, you can self issue a permit at the trailhead or wilderness boundary, but I found no place to do that. In less than an hour, I met a ranger.  Rejected!  I needed to go back to the ranger station to get a permit. “This is one of the most heavily traveled forests…” Blah blah blah. I hate bureaucracy, even as I know it may be necessary.  Thus I turned around.  It was enough.

Idyllwild was a cute town.  I was disappointed we couldn’t find a room for the night.  It was a holiday weekend, so vacancies were rare. Onward.   I pointed straight for Ontario, where it was still challenging finding a room.  Vacation was effectively over, but it had been a good one.

P.S. This is the first time I’ve tried these photo galleries.  Let me know what you think. Cheers.  –JB

About Josh Baker

"The world is big and I want to have a good look at it before it gets dark.” ― John Muir

Posted on February 23, 2014, in Adventure, Desert, Flora and Fauna, General Hiking, Mountains, Outdoors, vacations and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 2 Comments.

  1. I love Tahquitz. For all of being in Southern California, each time I have been to Idyllwild I feel like I am in the Sierra. For what it is worth, the dome you identified as Lily Rock is actually Suicide Rock. Lily Rock is another name for Tahquitz Rock.

    • Obviously I didn’t study the map too well! Yeah, it’s a great area. I am sure it would be a great area for a nice backpacking trip, and a what a pleasant getaway close to L.A. .

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