April 30, 2017
Total miles: 20 miles
Start: mile 185.7
End: faucet at mile 205.7
Total elevation gain/loss: 738.5/7937.7ft
We slept in a bit this morning because we didn’t want to hit the snow on Fuller Ridge too early. We’d heard that it was best to let the snow and ice soften a bit and I was glad to oblige. Despite feeling utterly exhausted last night, I had a difficult time sleeping. It probably didn’t help that we were camped on a bit of a slope. Oh well.
It was chilly when we got hiking at about 7:30. We quickly came upon a large patch of snow leading directly into a rushing creek. I got the impression that this normally wouldn’t be a tricky creek crossing, but the water was high due to the high levels of snow (and thus runoff) and because of the cold evening several of the rock hopping surfaces were covered in ice. We had to knock off the ice to make the crossing, which still required that I take off my gloves so that I could get my hands wet as I steadied myself on the way across.
We only had a couple more small patches of snow as we went up onto Fuller Ridge. The views from the ridgeline were amazing. We could see both down to the desert floor and up to San Jacinto. It was a lot to take in at once!
I was a little confused as we went up onto the ridge because I’d been hearing horror stories about how much snow there had been and how dangerous the ridge had been a couple weeks ago. We had put our microspikes back on, only to take them off because there was barely any snow. This changed, however, as we came down from the ridgeline. There were large patches of snow for at least a mile. While they could have been navigated without microspikes, we put ours on — if we’re going to carry the weight, might as well use them! With the spikes, the snow was easy going. We’ve definitely benefited from a warm couple of weeks that has melted a lot of snow!
As we descended, the pine trees gradually disappeared and the lizards returned to their practice of darting across the trail in front of us as we walk. I hadn’t noticed that there were no lizards for the past day until they were back. I guess it was too cold.
We leap frogged with Gabs, Avo, and Kurt throughout the morning and ended up heading off to find the off trail water with them. It’s crazy to think that we were just surrounded by snow and now we are back in the land of no water. From the off trail water, it didn’t sound like there were any reliable water sources until a faucet 12 miles away. To the water faucet it was! We’re too lazy to stop before that because it would mean carrying more water 😉
The afternoon was filled with what felt like a never ending descent. We kept going down and down and down. All the while, we could see the desert floor below and San Jacinto above. Our progress to the valley floor seemed so slow. The switchbacks never ended and often felt like we weren’t heading down at all!
I cruised ahead and did my best to enjoy the never changing views. I was grateful when I finally got down the mountain and to the faucet. I was thirsty and my knees were done with all of the downhill! Apparently I was one of the lucky ones though, I heard this evening that several people were stung by bees during their descent. I recall hearing the buzz of the bees around me during one of my shade breaks, but didn’t think much of it. A narrow miss!
There were a bunch of people planning to camp near the faucet — we weren’t the only ones that were trying to avoid a long water carry! I scoped out the sites and found a (hopefully) good one, so long as the line of ants leaves up alone tonight. We’re both exhausted again, so I think we’ll try out cowboy camping for the first time tonight. No tent, just us under the stars. The difference in elevation is already apparent — when the sun went down it did not instantly become cold!
Elizabeth: 1 possible new blister; a couple lingering blisters; inner thigh chafing
Michael: one new blister, popping hip muscle.