Dear Mount San Jacinto,
How do I loathe thee? Let me count the ways.
Seriously, that was a tough day.
I had camped right past Interstate 10 that night, totally alone, and just far enough away from the highway so it was quiet.
It was a few miles to the bottom of the mountain the next morning, where I'd see the last water source for about 20 miles and 7000 feet in elevation gain. It was a great water fountain, provided by the Desert Water Agency. Thank you for the great and vital water source! I cameled up good
here, and took a few minutes to mentally prepare myself for my pack to be stupidly heavy for this huge climb.
Wasn't sure which of those big things was Mount San Jacinto, but I knew one hell of a climb was a-coming
There wasn't a single flat trail segment I can remember. It was relentless. A lot of the climb was surprisingly steep, and shade was minimal on that incredibly hot, sunny, waterless day. One nice thing about that day was I could turn around and literally see just how much progress I'd made because there wasn't anything blocking my view. I could see the highway I'd crossed the night prior behind me pretty much the whole day.
I did reach the 2450-mile marker for SOBOs, and I felt excited this time. As sad as I was just a couple hundred miles back to almost be done, at that point I was ready to stop walking soon. I had been pulling very big days for the most part up until I hit San Jacinto, with most of my full days approaching 30 miles. I loved the trail life, but I wanted to touch that southern monument!
Less than 5% of the trail left
I had planned to make it further than I actually did, at least to the next water source, but I was totally spent about 21 miles into the day, so I decided to just set up camp at the first spot I saw.
City lights in the distance
I was lucky because I saw a very tiny water cache at a campground I'd walked past a few miles before camp, which I found out later Ctrl+Z and Katie had left behind for me when they came across some trail magic from a friend there earlier in the day. I had messaged them earlier in the day saying I wasn't sure I'd make it to the first water source on the mountain, and they decided to help me out. You guys are the best!
Hiking late into the night
The summit isn't actually on the trail, but there is a trail network around there, so you don't have to backtrack to the trail if you do it. It's not really much additional mileage (about a mile more than if you just hike the actual PCT), but it is quite a bit of extra elevation gain (about 2500 ft). I hadn't actually decided whether or not I was going to summit until I got to the junction where you'd turn left to summit or right to continue on the (relatively flat) PCT.
I decided I'd probably regret it later if I didn't summit because I was so close. It was also still early in the day, so I had plenty of time to make up mileage on the descent. Well, that final climb wasn't any easier than the rest of it, but it was in the shade, which I sincerely appreciated.
I stopped at the hiker hut near the top, which seemed like a really cool place to spend the night, if I had made it up here the night prior. I heard later that Ctrl+Z and Katie had decided to stop here the night before and got to see the sunrise at the summit.
A cozy summit hut
Then I headed up to the summit, where I completely lost the trail (I'm still not actually sure if there is a clear trail up there or not) but just started heading up. I was alone at the summit, and I'm not going to lie -- it felt good to be up there! I was proud of myself for deciding to summit.
23 miles, 9000 feet elevation gain, and many temper tantrums later...