7th May 2019

San Jacinto Wilderness

Before leaving Idyllwild on Wednesday May 1st, we took advantage of being in town. A small breakfast, milkshake and a cinnamon roll, followed by a whole pizza for lunch. Around 13:00 we were excited to finally get back on trail, after getting a hitch in the back of a pickup truck. Before getting back on the PCT we had to go back up the 2.5 mile side trail we hiked down into town.

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Our plan was a short hike, setting us up for the next day’s plan to summit San Jacinto. The peak stands 10.834 feet (3.300 meter) tall and provides some of the best views in Southern California. A number of thru-hikers skip PCT miles to do an alternate route over the summit. We opted to hike all PCT miles and do the 2.5 mile trail up and down. Glad we did so because the PCT had some amazing views in store for us.

The next day was summit day. After a relatively late start, we started the ascent at 10:30. The trail started very easy, small patches of snow along the first switchbacks, but nothing serious. 1 mile in the snow got serious, patches turned into whole stretches and it was time to get the micro spikes out for more grip in the snow. We took out time going up, making sure our whole group made it safely. Along the way was a campsite with outhouse, that wasn’t really open for public yet due to the snow.

After the campsite the climbing really started. Soon we found out that the trail was unusable due to the snow and we went along a track of footsteps. The track went straight up the mountain instead of by switchbacks, which made it steeper than anything we’d encountered before. Tree Trunks and Reject had a hard time just 0.3 miles from the summit, and decided not to go further. After swapping Garmin inReach addresses, Hollywood, Hops and I continued to the summit. Just over 15 minutes later, we were awestruck by the views on the summit. While we were eating lunch, Tree Trunks and Reject showed up on the summit. Time for some group pictures!

It took us four hours to get up and down over the same path would take another two hours. Down was maybe even more fun than up. With micro spikes on we almost skid down the hill. As it was later in the day and warming up, we had some issues with postholes and slushy snow. But everyone made it safely back to the trail and into camp that evening.

The next day we had to traverse the infamous Fuller Ridge before we could get down the mountain to the desert floor again. The sketchy part of the ridge is only about 3 miles long, but we all heard stories about rescue operations in the last weeks to make us cautious. Our group had grown by one when we picked up Oconie after the summit. The six of us would tactically traverse the snow, thinking and talking about how to go about each sketchy section. By 10:00 we made it passed the snow and the rest of the descent could start. During the 18 miles that day we would drop 7.000 feet (2.133 meters). Most of this was with an amazing view over San Jacinto.

During the day we passed the 200 mile marker, which means there is ‘only’ 2450 miles left of the trail, easy!

The campsite that night had an amazing view over San Jacinto wilderness and provided a great opportunity for a night sky photo.

After descending into the desert floor, we will directly start climbing again into San Gorgonio Wilderness and towards Big Bear Lake. More on this in my next post.

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Happy trails!

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