A Long Way Down
Beginning Elevation = 8,650
Ending Elevation = 2,800
Weather: Sunny with a high of 80°F
I was sad to say goodbye to my premo campsite, but also excited to get some miles in on the PCT.Not long into my hike I came across a group of tenters still packing up. I snuck by and continued on my way. From the beginning, it was down hill. Essentially, today was the descent from San Jacinto down to try and reach Interstate 10.
After a while, I took a break to eat a breakfast snack, look back at the mountain I’d climbed the day before, and put on my micro-spikes.While hanging, a fellow hiker, Matt, approached and the first thing he asked is if the cut on his face was pretty bad or just a scratch. I told him maybe somewhere in between, it was still bleeding pretty good, and ended up giving some of my first aid supplies to clean it up. He got attacked by a tree when bushwhacking through the snow. While he patched himself up, Goose and a hiker named Ally reached us. I was low on water, so she kindly let me have some of her supply. Quite the team moment we had all around!
The four of us set out together to tackle Fuller Ridge, a notorious section that folks had been talking about being difficult to traverse. It was a pain due to the snow, but we never felt unsafe, just slow moving and a lot of work! That’s Goose with the yellow pack, Ally with the bucket hat, and Matt leading the way. Goose was given his trail name from a friend who thought he looked exactly like Goose in Top Gun in his wedding photos.Around 11:00, we reached the point where the snow was thinning enough to take off our spikes. We all had a nice break. Matt, the guy who had scratched his cheek also ended up tweaking his ankle, so not a great start to the day for him, but even so he kept a positive attitude. Our shoes and socks were soaked. Luckily, it was sunny, so I de-shoed/socked and laid out to dry a bit.Two others joined us, Stretch/Foghorn (he’d been appropriately re-named the day before since he’s such a loud talker and you can hear him coming down the trail a long ways off) and Grinder. These two seem to have teamed up. These 6 are the same group that had piled into the truck with me in Idyllwild to get to the trailhead.
Goose and I started up again first, but pretty soon we split when he took a break…so I was leading the pack! Not for long though, eventually I made my way back to the rear…I tend to take more breaks than most folks I think, as my wise friend Luke commented, “to smell the roses.” Or in this case, these lovely lilac-looking bushes.
I enjoyed being out of the snow and seeing a new view..
Soon I was getting low on agua again, but knew there was some coming up. Then saw this sign…
There was a nice little creek. A guy named Band-Aid and his daughter were there having lunch. I just made a quick stop, filled two liters and was on my way. Around 1:00, I found a great spot for lunch under a large boulder. I forgot to take photos though. Matt stopped by too. The rest of the crew, moved on past.
After lunch, it was some speedy walking down trail. Soon, I was back in the land of lizards (I witnessed some leaping from rock-to-rock today, once a gap of 2 feet!), snakes (6 encounters today! 3 of which were rattlesnakes), flowering bushes, and boulders. I was feeling the flower pics today.
Here’s a video of our group snake encounter. Just after someone had said they like to be down by the water, Alley very calmly got up and says that there’s a rattlesnake in the bush next to her. You know how I would’ve handled the situation, luckily I was on the opposite side of the stream. The thing just came slithering out right in front of us all…
I made it to mile 200 today too (there’s a nice rock sign on the ground marking it)!
Around 5:30ish, I caught up to where Stretch/Foghorn, Grinder, Matt, and Alley were scoping out a campsite. They all decided to cowboy camp there. I thought I’d join in on the fun, since I hadn’t done that yet. It was a very nice spot looking down on Interstate 10 and the field of windmills on the opposite hillside. Goose reached us too, but he was planning to continue the 7 miles to the interstate to get picked up by his son who goes to school at University of California Riverside
It was a nice night cooking/eating around each other and enjoying the open sky above once the stars came out (photo credit for the second photo of my sleeping bag goes to Ally). Third photo isn’t me, that’s Matt.
I had told the group my fear of snakes sneaking in my bag at night and they seemed to think I was joking. I was not. It was a rather warm night and I had put on my baselayers to sleep in. I ended up struggling with being hot in my bag and fearful that if I opened my zipper to cool off, the snakes would get me. And so I roasted most of the night.
It was pretty neat to sleep right under the stars, and I did even get to witness one shooting star before falling asleep. The lights below might’ve been taking some of the star viewing quality though. The red blinking light are all wind turbines.