The hike down was beautiful and easy, but it felt so long
. Initially, I was going to try to get to Idyllwild, my next resupply stop, from Mount San Jacinto, but I decided to push on to Highway 74 another 25 miles or so ahead and hitch in from there. There was supposed to be a snowstorm coming in a couple days, and I was trying to plan a single zero to coincide with that storm. This extra push would do it.
My reward after that big-ass San Jacinto climb
Unfortunately, because I hadn't planned for this extra day in my resupply, I ran out of food, and had very little battery left on my phone. Oh well. It was almost town day, and I had just summited a huge mountain.
Plus, the whole descent did have a distinctly Washington huge-pass feel to it though, and that wasn't a bad thing. Although there was some climbing, looking at my photos, it was worth it.
Camp that night was in a great little valley, surrounded by tall bushes. I felt super cozy, like nature was giving me a hug. The bushes were also facing just the right way so I could wake up to the sun the next morning. I went to sleep happy.
I was going to miss these desert sunsets
I was super ready to get to town the next morning because I was hungry and I could see clouds in the distance. They were still far out, but I could tell the snowstorm was a-coming. I woke up early without even meaning to, and packed up camp with the sunrise.
Getting an early start
I was only about 15 and a half miles out from Highway 74, where I'd hitch, and it was a relatively easy terrain hiking day. But the last 3 miles got a little stressful because I could see the massive storm clouds starting to cover me, and I could hear thunder getting closer too.
Before the clouds started getting too close, it was actually a beautiful day
It wasn't a super easy hitch, and it actually started raining on me for a while before someone stopped for me. Many cars passed me, and it began to rain even harder, so I put on my best sad, cold, and miserable face on, hoping someone would stop for me soon.
Finally, a woman drove into the trailhead parking lot I walked through to get to the highway, turned around, and picked me up. She was a PCT section hiker, and knew what I was doing from seeing my pack. Thank goodness she stopped because it was actually getting really cold out there in the rain!
She dropped me off at the grocery store, and I could tell as I was walking around, grabbing some snacks, that Idyllwild is a hiker town. Everyone who saw my bag wished me luck or was happy to tell me I was almost at the end. It was really sweet.
I stopped at a coffee shop for some warm coffee (and vegan banana bread), and booked a room at one of the inns in town. Guys, I had a wood stove to warm up the room. It was magical.
It started to snow in the evening, and I spent all night lying in bed watching TV. Ctrl+Z and Katie were staying at the same inn in another room, and another hiker, Waist Deep, whom I had met for the first time a long ways back
up in Oregon at Big Lake Youth Camp, was also spending the night at the inn. We were all holed up the following day to wait out the storm.
I had gotten in touch with a few other SOBOs I knew were ahead of me, and found out there was another group a little ways ahead in Warner Springs hiding indoors during the storm, including Timber. Another group was at a trail angel's house in Julian a few dozen miles ahead of that, including Yahtzee and Big Tex. I was glad to hear everyone would be safe during this storm, because it didn't stop snowing at all the next day.
I spent most of the zero indoors watching YouTube videos (I'm really exciting) and getting coffee (and more vegan banana bread!) with Ctrl+Z and Katie at the cafe. We spent that night in Ctrl+Z and Katie's room making microwave s'mores and playing games in front of the fireplace.
Not all of the marshmallows and chocolate chips ended up in s'mores
I tried to burn the night into my memory, because I knew it was going to be the last zero I took on the trail (barring something terrible happening between Idyllwild and the end).