12.6 (+2.6 off pct = 15.2) miles today
191.8 miles total
Idyllwild to windy ridge
This morning was challenging for a number of reasons. I woke up early to catch a ride to the trailhead of the Devils Slide Trail back to the PCT. This trail is infamous for its elevation gain. I was actually feeling fresh and ready at 7:30 and made it up the trail easily. But from there the actual PCT continued to gain and drop elevation all day. In total we gained 4000ft of elevation to near the top of San Jacinto at just above 9000ft. Definitely my biggest day so far!
The trail was quickly covered in melting snow – such a vast difference in landscape from before. All day we walked on slushy snow through old growth pines – it was so beautiful.
Despite the landscape, I had a rough morning. I’m starting to see how it’s difficult to transition from town to trail. My legs were super tired by lunch and my feet were soaked. It was fun to walk in the snow, but slipping and sliding with every step had me exhausted. I just wasn’t feeling it.
Luckily, not long after that, I met up with my friends Ryan and Luna, who were also having a rough morning. It was great to sit and chat and laugh with them about all the hard stuff – carrying 6L of water, 6 days of food, aches and pains, elevation gain and drop, wet socks, you name it.
Surprisingly, after that I felt much better! And quickly I caught up with a hiker who I hadn’t met before named 10K. He’s from Tennessee and we were hiking the same pace all afternoon. He’s been hiking 20/30 mile days and started a week before me! I’m planning to finally get up early for once tomorrow to stick with him for a bit. I’m sure he’ll want to speed up eventually, but it will be a good day to put in some early miles.
At one point, we had finally crossed over to the north side of the mountain and 10K says, in a perfect southern accent, “looks liake Mordor dunnit?” The sight of the desert at the base of the mountain was intense – a complete change from the snow we were standing on.
We’re descending 6000 more feet tomorrow to the hot valley floor. Send my knees your good wishes!