Ay, caramba!

(8/9/10) Written by Joe S
Photo Credit: Alan S

Ay, caramba! - comes from the Spanish interjection "ay!", denoting surprise or pain.

hot-dog - A smoked sausage of beef or beef and pork made in long reddish links, also similar to an extreme sized dog ordered by one of the Perfect Pace troop after this hike in downtown Idyllwild.

We began the hike on a clear morning up the Devil's Slide from Humber Park in Idyllwild. I anticipated the Devil's Slide portion to be more difficult with my pack. I was waiting for the "surprise or pain" portion - but luckily it did not materialize. I trekked along with my poles, and kept focusing on the views across the valley, and the sheer cliffs in front and behind me. I hadn't backpacked in over 30 years - I was still glad I was doing the "easy" hike to get back into it.

Alan Stauffer - aka "Fearless Leader" approved our first break at Saddle Junction. We discussed our next course, which would take us on the more northerly route to Willow Creek Crossing - with a planned water stop at Laws Camp. The weather could not have been better - cool breezes - with the wind streaming through the tops of the trees keeping a constant hum over the entire course. I'm not sure if the higher than normal rains over the winter produced blue-r or more abundant lupine along the trail - but either way it was a great contrast along the trail. The prize for contrast however goes to the Snow Plant. I had never seen such a red, fleshy, glandular-hairy saprophyte in my life. Ok, Alan did look that up for me - but it is an incredible looking florescent fungus.

By midday, we had begun the elevation fall and rise that is the trail from Laws Camp to Caramba. In terms of elevation, we had ended the day about where we started at Humber Park. We set up camp, headed down to the Tahquitz River - and took a very chilly dip. After my feet thawed - we enjoyed a nice evening overlooking the desert valley and Palm Springs.
We began our 2nd day with a reverse of the fall and rise portion that we had done on Saturday back to Laws Camp. For some reason, my legs were not as cooperative on this section as they were on Saturday. I think they were anticipating a day off. We took the southerly route back, and took a group vote on whether or not to attempt Tahquitz Peak. One member of the group opted out - something about wanting a large hot dog in Idyllwild. We headed down Devil's Slide after a brief respite at Saddle Junction. After some awesome watermelon, varietal beverages and snacks at Alan's truck, we all headed into town for some BBQ at the local Harley drive in. As we arrived the band was just starting a 15 minute break - which was a good thing. We all appreciated the grub and the short bit of quiet after an awesome backpack.