Miles 190.5 – 205
Total mileage 14.5
Neither of us slept very well last night. The wind was whipping out tent around, and it was COLD. Definitely our coldest night on trail yet. We woke up “late” around 6:30 am, packed up quick and headed down the long, long descent.
The wind had died down, which was nice, and once we started moving we warmed up pretty quick. We were treated to some incredible views of the Palm Desert, with San Gorgonio and Mt Baldy towering through the clouds/haze that had settled on the desert floor.
A few miles into our hike we came upon a sign made of sticks in the ground, pointing us towards water. Essentially it was just an arrow pointing to the right, with footprints to follow from there, but if it wasn’t there we probably would have missed it, since we couldn’t hear the stream from where the trail passed it.
A number of hikers were gathered at the water, which isn’t uncommon. We all discussed our plans for the day- most of us were headed down to the base of the mountain, with a few hiking further to attempt an afternoon hitch to the nearest In N Out in Cabazon. We had originally planned on dry camping that evening about 3 miles from the base of the mountain, but upon learning that we could camp at the bottom and that there would be water, we decided we might as well push a little further. At least that meant we wouldn’t have to carry as much water!!
After gathering a couple liters each, we continued our way down. The descent was pretty tough on our knees, and we were both very happy it wasn’t too hot because it was very exposed. A couple more hours passed, and we came upon a large group of hikers all stopped on the trail. “Snake!” said Joe, a hiker from New Zealand. “See it?” I didn’t, but Jill did right away. It was a big boa, at least 5 ft long, taking a little sunbath directly on the trail. The other hikers recommended climbing down on the rocks below the trail, so that’s what we did. It was a little disconcerting, and at one point we were all eye level with the snake. It reminded me of that scene in the Jungle Book where Kaa tries to hypnotize Mowgli, but luckily we all made it through unscathed.
After what seemed like an endless descent, we finally saw a large group of hikers gathered around a small faucet sticking out of the ground. A few (maybe unnecessary) switchbacks later and we were there! Libby and Sara had been there for an hour or so already, and were thinking about moving on, but eventually we all decided to stay there overnight.
We pitched our tent in the shadow of San Jacinto, amazed that we had just been up there not 12 hours earlier. It was another pretty windy spot, so we pitched our tent with no rainfly in hopes that would be a little quieter.