Total Miles: 193.6
With X-man leaving after only one zero day and Emily having flown home to Seattle, our little hiking group has been whittled down to just four. We set off from the cozy confines of the Idyllwild Inn at 6am, hoping to get a hitch to the state park where a side trail would take us back to the PCT on the north side of the trail closure. After only a mile, our prayers were answered and we were saved from the remaining 2.5 miles of road walking to the trailhead.
The day was gorgeous and ten degrees cooler than the last few--perfect for the 5000 foot climb up Mt. San Jacinto. The climb up the Devil's Slide trail to rejoin the PCT was a gentle, consistent grade that made us all happy to be back on the trail. Although Mt. San Jacinto stands at 10,834 feet and is the second highest peak in Southern California, the PCT doesn't actually climb over the summit. Instead, a popular alternate route does and so we opted to take it at the cost of an extra mile and another 2000 feet of climbing. Proton made the prudent choice not to join us, opting instead to take the PCT and save his feet from the extra up and down.
The view from the summit was stunning. Far below, the desert stretched out into the distance, touching the communities of Palm Springs and Palm Desert before dissolving into the Salton Sea beyond.
The air was thinner, but we all felt great to be back on the trail and to have had such a beautiful day to enjoy a mountain that felt like a little slice of the Sierra--trees, shade, some snow, flowing water, sweeping views, and a scent of dry pine in the air.
We even ran into a search and rescue team looking for a teenager who'd gone missing the day before. They seemed to be hot on the trail, but helicopters passing over the mountain late into the afternoon had us thinking he still had not been found.
We finally peeled ourselves away from the summit, eager to catch up with Proton this evening, though dreading the nearly 10,000 foot descent down to the desert and the crossing of Interstate 10.
Due to the side trail approach this morning and the extra mile on the alternate to the summit, the miles don't add up yet again. Almost 19 miles today, but only moved 14 miles up the PCT.