Day 19: Descent
Sunday, April 8, 2018 9:24 pm
Location: Desert Water Agency Faucet (205.7 miles)

Somehow, my tent survived the night. Though, if more stakes had pulled out, I’m not entirely sure I’d have gone outside to fix them. It was a bit cool in the morning, but the skies had cleared and the humidity dropped significantly. It was looking to be a much better day for hiking (and views) than yesterday.

As usual, I got started around 8 am. About 40 minutes later, I made it to the top of the last significant uphill for over 20 miles. From here, for the rest of the day, it would be downhill.

After just under three miles, I made it to a large campground with picnic tables, and took a long break to cook last night’s dinner. While boiling water, my fuel canister ran out, answering a question I hadn’t been able to answer previously: one canister lasts ten full meals. I thought it was longer! (I had been carrying a second canister for specifically this reason.)

The early morning trail was through a pine forest, with only the occasional view. As the trail dropped lower, though, the trees gradually became thinner until more water-thrift plants began to take over. To the east, the snow-capped peaks of San Gorgonio were prominent, as was Cabazon, down in the valley between San Jacinto and San Gorgonio.

San Gorgonio and Cabazon
San Gorgonio and Cabazon

One of the main sights from the trail was the Mesa windfarm, visible almost as soon as there was a view to the southeast, gradually getting larger in view as the day progressed. The trail also provided numerous views of San Jacinto itself, which would come in and out of view as the trail wound through the mountainside.

San Jacinto
San Jacinto

In spite of baking in the direct sunlight (or, probably actually, because of it, and the relative lack of sunlight yesterday), I saw an incredible number of lizards out in the open sunning themselves. There were at least five different species, and most of them ran away as soon as they saw me coming, though a few brave specimens sat in place long enough for me to try and get photos of them. I also saw a fair number of birds, and a few rabbits.

Also lining the trail were several different types of wildflowers in bloom, and later on in the day, some cacti opened their flowers as well.

The trail passed 200 miles today; two different 200 mile markers were written with small stones, and there was a more permanent post at around 200.8 as well.

The Mesa Windfarm
The Mesa Windfarm

I reached the day’s destination, a water faucet provided by the Desert Water Agency, shortly before 6, after 18 miles and losing nearly 7000 feet of altitude, almost certainly my longest descent ever. With several people milling about, the first order of business seemed to be to claim a tentsite. There are three of us camping here, and more than that came through and headed further on: Spook to night hike; Quoi and Dylan left to try and hitch into Cabazon for In-N-Out Burgers, and one other person left because they had a friend in Cabazon they could stay with. I also saw some more headlamps in the distance as I was writing this, so there may be more people here come morning.

On the way down the mountain, I'd passed Quoi talking a break. She was most notable for the small stuffed moose she had attached to her pack's shoulder strap. She said it was a gift from her boyfriend, a reminder of home (in Canada).

This is the first time I can see man made lights from my tentsite on the PCT: there were lights from Cabazon, and a vast field of red blinking lights from the Mesa windfarm.

Tomorrow: at least 12.8 miles to the Whitewater Preserve; tentsites after that are a little thin, so beyond that will depend on speed and how I’m feeling.