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November 26, 2016

Idyllwild–Thanksgiving in the San Jacinto Mountains

Living in San Diego has perks, besides the beach and great weather.  In a couple hours we can be in the dessert, Mexico, LA traffic, or the mountains.  This Thanksgiving we skip the local mountains for one of our favorite destinations – Idyllwild, in the San Jacinto Mountains.

Although there are several areas around Idyllwild where boondocking is free, or almost free, for decades we continue to come back to Riverside’s Idyllwild County Park, where boondocking is now $25!  But since we’re always walking, biking, or on this trip - scooting, it’s nice to be deep in the woods and close to town.

The gotchya is this park does not have a lot of level sites.  For big rigs sites 84 and up are best – spacious and level (where hookups are being considered), but we’re small and prefer the more private tent sites … if we can wiggle in.  The ranger took pity on me, having Rufus up on a pile of blocks and still not level, he offered us a Camp Host site.  Sweet and with full hook ups!
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Idyllwild is a tourist town! It’s in constant change to draw in new revenue and weekends can be congested.  Although I miss the old Totem Pole that was on this site, Harmony is a heck of an advertisement for Gorilla Glue!
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Another new addition Idyll-aWhile - a wine tasting bar!
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Idyllwild is only 2 hours from San Diego, but as it is a mile high there is a bit of altitude adjustment.  So we’ll start out easy to get adjusted.

Breakfast was Ruth’s corn tortilla quiche, I prefer plablano to bell peppers, but add anything else handy – broccoli this morning.  Within the campground are morteros and a nice pictograph.
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Our first hike on Thanksgiving morning is to the Idyllwild Nature Center ($4 but closed for the holiday),it’s  a half-mile uphill.  This can be done as an out’n’back’ or as a loop.  The trailhead is near site #6 and is uphill the first quarter mile.  The views back across town are really quite nice.
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Near the summit is the ‘Viewpoint’, containing a bench and a heck of a view!
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From the Nature Center there is an easy loop through the Yellow Pine Forest.  Without the guide from the Center we simply walk the loop.
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To complete our hike will return to the campground on the Hillside Trail.  A little hard to find and not as well marked as some of the others.  But it is a nice trail with a bit of rock scrambling – and it’s all down hill - from here.
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Mayor Max II!  Mayor for Life!  This puppy’s dad was the first Mayor Max, nice to see the tradition continue!
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I saw my first show at the Rustic Theater June 5th 1993, Cliffhanger.  There was a fricken blizzard outside and the only escape was a movie about snow and cold!  The theater is still quite rustic, but now serves beer!  No cup holders - be careful with that beer!
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The date is easy to remember, Fran was up here to perform with her clogging group, it was a warm 80.  I came up the following day.  Weather changes quick on the mountain!
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"My husband only brought shorts"

The Ernie Maxwell Scenic Trail is 5.2 miles out’n’back.  For most, including the Heydukes,  the trail begins at Humber Park and drops 670’ to the return.  For us the trailhead is on Tahquitz View Road about a quarter mile beyond where the pavement ends.
Pavement ends here:
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The gate on the right is NOT the trail head, look for the trail marker a quarter mile beyond.  This is a well know starting point and roadside parking is limited.
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The view of Lily Rock (aka Tahquitz Rock; Tahquitz Peak) from the lower trail head.
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Early on the trail we were rewarded with a pair of young deer having breakfast.
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Lots of trail maintenance going on.  The young men are removing dead/dangerous trees.  This also improves the view from the trail.
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Views of Suicide Rock and the expanse over Hemet toward the ocean.  The uphill and downhill views on this hike are worth the effort.
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Not too unlike the Bristlecone Pine, the Manzanita (little apple) needs to suffer a bit to survive and achieve its beauty.

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Advantages to starting at the lower end of the trail, the up hill is done on fresh legs and there is a restroom at Humber Park – but no water Sad smile.

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Returning home we stopped and marveled at the sculptures of Ricardo Breceda along CA-79 in Aguanga.  His displays in Borrego Springs are being expanded and after seeing this display his work is constantly improving.

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Check out the detail in the mane and muscle structure of the horse, or the intricate buffalo hide of the Indian.
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My favorite, an octopus

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But if I could afford it – a Mariachi band!
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A comparison of his early and current efforts.  Similar sculptures, but a bit boxy in the foreground with more life like details in the back ground.