May 18, 2018 | miles 191 to 213.4 |
As we woke, I tried to pawn off some of my food knowing that I had overpacked. There was resistance until John found out I had brought Symphony chocolate – guess I should have led with that instead of just mentioning food!
It was a cold night – funny what 9000 feet elevation does to the supposed “desert” weather. Even John expressed interest potentially switching back to a sleeping bag from his Katabatic quilt, since drafts would sneak in whenever he tried to lift his legs.
After much resistance and delay due to the cold, we slowly made our way out of our bags. John “Not Cold” Zahorian broke camp before us to return to his car to try to catch other friends, slowly straddling off into the distance with his quilt hugged around him. Maybe 15 minutes later, we were packed off and ready to begin our long descent. 20 miles down San Jacinto with a bum knee – I had real doubts as to whether I’d be able to make it.
The next eight hours were a constant slog of downhill. Samuel, NudeDude, and Heaps disappeared in the distance as I trailed behind slowly for sake of my knee. From our starting point near the top of the mountain, we had the same view for most of the descent – an enjoyable one, but repetitive enough to where I took the opportunity to enjoy some podcasts and music.
About four miles from the bottom of the descent, a water tank that clearly seems to be the endpoint comes into full view. Just in time for the trail to switchback for 2 miles in another direction over a town that looks like another potential destination. Oh PCT, how you confuse me so sometimes. Fortunately, Heaps had warned us about this misdirection. The last hour was a struggle with my feet screaming on fire, but my knees held up surprisingly well as I passed by Jakob and Red Cross again before reaching the faucet at the bottom. The spot was all but devoid of shade, save for a tiny boulder with barely enough crawl space to hide one’s upper body from the sun, but a small crowd of hikers had gathered in joint celebration of surviving the 9000 ft descent.
Shortly after I arrived, Heaps, Sam, James, and MacGuyver (another female hiker with a 8 lb base weight we’d heard whisperings about previously) set off to I-10 to hitch in for some Panda Express at Cabazon. Although I wanted to join them, I knew I had too much food leftover to warrant a town trip, so I set off a half hour later on the long roadwalk over to the highway crossing.