Thursday, April 6 — day 11

PCT mile 149.87 to 166.52

I had not noticed until today that my feet do not hurt (not unusually, at least).  Days ago the first hundred steps after every rest felt like walking on walnuts.  Yesterday and today they just feel tired and appreciative of a rest.

The morning view was beautiful as I descended to the highway.

A little ways down the trail was another inspirational milestone:


There was a tiny water cache at the Hwy 74 crossing that I took advantage of.  It saved me having to walk or hitchhike the mile up to a PCT friendly cafe near Hemet.  

I can now see my next challenge well: the San Jacinto Mountains – big time uphill!

As the day went on I hiked up into pine scented forest – these are Coulter pine cones

And this is a Jefferey pine cone.

I then back down into boulder strewn scrub

I noticed that while my feet were doing fine, I was breathing much harder and I my legs would get tireder forcing me to rest more often.  I then realized it was because the trail was rising and falling to the 6,000+ foot level! 

I was chugging the water so I needed to pay a high price for a refill:  I needed to descend  1 mile and over 500 vetical feet off the PCT to refill at Cedar Springs.  I decided to drop my pack at the trailhead and proceed with just water bottles.  I considered this long and hard.  My pack has everything I need to live, except water at the moment, but 2 miles of steep hike with a pack did not sound fun.

The spring was a delightful place and the water gushed out of the ground just uphill of this photo.  I filled both my bottles and my stomach.  I feel very satisfied every time I get a water refill – one less thing to worry about!

The return to my pack was indeed a tiring hike but I was delighted in finding my pack unmolested my rodents.  I also noted that like yesterday, I have seen no other PCT hikers.

The views are great though – here is looking east towards the greater Palm Springs area.

This area of the San Jacinto mountains burned in 2013 and the PCT trail is closed just ahead of me.  I’m traveling the 6,000-7,000 foot high ridge with Hemet to the west and Palm Springs/Desert to the east.  Here’s Lake Hemet.

There are 2 posted options to exit the PCT and I camped at the very windy trail junction to consider which to take.  I’ve got my tent setup technique down pat but after I climbed in the wind picked up even more. I was not cold but I was worried about my rain cover stakes pulling out and the tent flapping.  I placed large rocks over the stakes and that seemed to do the trick!

More pics of the scenery- so nice to be out of the desert for a while!

Tomorrow morning I have to decide which of the two posted trail alternates to take: A) descend down to a dirt road that meets Hwy 74 , then hike up the Hwy to Hemet and then on to Idyllwild, or B) hike up 1,500 feet over one more ridge and then down to a paved road that leads to Hemet. The strength of the wind will certainly be a consideration.

Thanks for reading!

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