Sally Hedberg walking the Ernie Maxwell Trail. Photo by Don Dietz
Just like the desert Cahilla Indians centuries ago, San Jacinto mountains’ summer residents and visitors are slowly making their way from the desert’s three-digit temperatures to a much milder climate.

But it isn’t just the climate that makes part-timers and visitors return to the Hill. Once exposed to Idyllwild and the surrounding areas, most people can’t stay away.

This is mine and Don’s fifth year in a quaint little green 1940s cabin with a deck offering a pristine view of Tahquitz Peak and Lily Rock. Our neighbor, Lynnda Hart, greets us with a welcome home and asks us if we need anything.

When we came to Pine Cove it was to commune with nature, hike and vegetate on the deck with a good book. But soon we were communicating with the wonderful area people. We became part of the community. We didn’t realize this small town’s inclusive atmosphere was what we craved. Even being away for nine months of the year, we can jump right in where we left off.

After arriving two weeks ago, our first stop was the Idyllwild Nature Center, one of Idyllwild’s gems. Shelley Kibby, Joyti Kinz and Scott Fisher were busy preparing for the Wildflower Festival. “Can we help?” asked Don.

We were immediately included in the preparation. We usually come in June and hadn’t experience the abundance of wildflowers or the delicate pink manzanita blossoms.

Our second stop was the Ernie Maxwell Trail where we quickly got acclimated to the altitude while looking for the white azaleas not yet blooming.

Desert friends ask us what we do in the mountains. These are just a few of our activities.

On Sundays at 3 p.m., we attend Eduardo Santiago’s Idyllwild Author Series, now in its third year.

Our cabin has no TV to distract us. We read, play cards, listen to music and watch an occasional DVD movie. Billy Sheppard and his mom, Debbie, help us select movies to our tastes, giving us special care. We find the same helpful service from the folks at the rest of the establishments.

I remember the first year here we attended “The Wizard of Oz” musical. We didn’t know anyone. A couple sitting next to us started asking where we were from, and how long we would be here.

The man was Bob Parish who invited Don to ROMEO (Retired Old Men Eating Out) for breakfast Tuesday mornings at Mile High Cafe. Don went the next Tuesday and has continued each summer.

I met Bonnie Parlee at the Nature Center. She invited me to Red Hats where I became a member of the Red Hat Mountain Mamas and made dear friends.

We discovered Idyllwild Arts Academy with its Native American Week, student and faculty concerts, and Idyllwild Jazz Festival. All these events are known throughout the country. The Idyllwild Summer Concerts, starting July 4 this year, make Thursdays our special date night, along with Taco Night at La Casita Mexican Restaurant.

We enjoy many of the talented musicians who play nightly at the restaurants and other special events. All the activities I have mentioned are either free or at a reasonable cost. This magical mountain spreads its pixie dust over us. A swirl of abundant creativity reigns. The love and enthusiasm on the Hill is contagious. It makes me want to write about it.