Mile 179.4-201.1 (21.7 +7)
Despite no rain, things are damp in the morning. We slip out of the campground and get coffee and a quick breakfast in town then start hiking to the trail. It is clear and cold out and we walk through pretty neighborhoods to the side trail that will take us up to the mountains and back to the PCT.
There are a ton of hikers who arrive in trucks and vans, hitching to the trailhead from town. At least a dozen. They start up the trail in tight groups of three or four.
We climb up to the PCT quickly and follow it for only 2 miles before taking off on another side trail, this one to San Jacinto peak (10,834 ft). It is a beautiful trail and we pick up a cold wind. There is snow and ice, but not enough to affect our hiking. We summit the peak around 1pm. The views from the top are amazing, distant mountain ranges that seem to be glowing, great sweeps of brown desert.
We descend and rejoin the PCT. Feels good to be back. We sort of follow a ridge, but in a gentle way involving endless switchbacks, and eventually come to this great descent from 9000 ft to 1200 ft over 20 miles.
We find our campsite around 8pm and opt to cowboy camp so we don’t have to deal with the tent in the wind. We’re in this big sand pit with some other hikers. Like sleeping in a sandbox. In a windstorm.