Miles: 16 (7 on the PCT-9 off the PCT)
Camping: PCT mile 190.5
Hikers seen on trail: 8 PCT hikers 12 day hikers on Mt. San Jacinto

The day started out well after an excellent night of sleep. I walked from the campground to the Idyllwyld Inn where I heard there would be an 8:15 shuttle to the trail. Phoenix was there, ready to get back on trail and finish. I’m so happy to see her, and that despite rumor, she is still hikin on.

The shuttle ended up being a pickup truck driven by the owner of the Inn. 8 of us piled in and he dropped us off back at the trail. There was debate on whether or not to include a detour to summit Mt. San Jacinto, and I was on the fence as to what I wanted to do. It wasn’t until 2.5 miles in that I decided to do it, as Blisster said he was going up and deep down I knew I wanted to do it. It was a 10,834′ summit, and I figured it would only make me stronger.

I won’t use too many words to describe the day, I took lots of pictures though. The climb was more than worth it, and I felt strong after the day of rest. It’s amazing how strong you get out here in a short time. Blisster and I both commented on how good we felt,  and it was a great confidence boost moving forward on this journey.

The hike was reminiscent of the Sierra Nevada, with granite boulder fields and lots of gnarled high alpine conifers. We walked on soft beds of pine needles that smelled divine, and nearly forgot that we are nowhere near done with the desert.

After the summit, we had to fill up on 20 miles worth of water, plus enough to cook with that night. It came to about 5L which is heavy after climbing a mountain (at 2.2lbs per liter). There was a lot of elevation loss and gain for the day, and it ended with a long descent. We could see the desert below, knowing we’d be hiking down there tomorrow.

We were beat getting into camp, with barely enough energy to cook dinner. I made some fettucine noodles with veggies, and another hiker sat next to me to wearily cook his dinner as well. In his tired state he ended up blowing up a lighter in his stove, which created a loud explosion across camp. Heads poked out of tents every which way, reminding me of that whack-a-mole game. He solemnly returned to his tent saying, “I guess it’s trail mix for dinner.” I felt for him, knowing I could have easily made a similar mistake.

Here are pictures that do little justice to the beautiful day. I’m too tired to be any where near eloquent.