Day 11: Down, Down, Down

Mile reached: 205.7 (+22.5 + 4.4 bonus)

High: Gained the 3,000 feet out of Idyllwild while it was still cool

Low: So many…

Rattlesnakes noticed/not noticed: 2/1

Highest elevation reached: 8970′

In the words of “Bowline” who was a hiker I met at the drinking fountain at the end of the day: “Today was a shitty day. But, today was still a good day.”

From Idyllwild the trail traverses around the north side of San Jacinto and then drops about 7,000 feet to the desert floor below. Since Idyllwild isn’t actually on trail, there is a several thousand foot gain out of the town back to the trail. And did I mention it is hot?

Eric wanted to go climb San Jacinto and was going to get up late. Having already climbed it several times, I had no real interest in doing it again and wanted to cover miles instead. So, I took off at 5 am and did the mile or so road walk to the Deer Springs trailhead. (I’m not a purist when it comes to covering every mile of open trail, rather I want a continuous footpath to Canada.) The climb up was perfect. The sun was just rising, and Lily Rock was beautifully illuminated. After the junction I wandered through beautiful ponderosa forests with enormous granite boulders scattered everywhere. Quickly, I reached the only water source to be found for the next 20 miles.

Ponderosa Pine forest in the morning light
The top of Fuller Ridge, the descent of which would dominate most of the day.

From the North Fork of the San Jacinto River things all went downhill figuratively and literally. The trail makes a meandering traverse across Fuller Ridge and then drops out of the forest down to a water fountain provided by the Desert Water Authority. It was hot. I ran into two fat rattlesnakes on the trail and obliviously walked past a third. My block of cheese exploded in my pack. My spoon broke into two. The wind tore off a piece of my groundsheet. The trail is needlessly miles longer than it should be and actually gains elevation on some switchbacks.

Mount San Jacinto as seen from Fuller Ridge
The San Bernardino Mountains and the start of the transverse range. The trail crosses the desert floor below. :S
This guy took a while to get off the trail and then started to go right down to the switchback below.
The descent into desert

Oh, and there was a hive of aggressive bees on the side of the trail. Apparently, the hive is at mile 202.03, but I thought it was 202.3. So, I stopped at mile 202 to pull out a jacket and noticed there was a lot of buzzing. Before I knew it bees were chasing me down the trail. In the end, only “Little Bites” was stung. (She’s the hippie’s hippie and was even putting out “lots of positive energy.”) To finish off the day, it’s windy near the water fountain, so it was a pain in the ass to try and catch the water to fill my bottles.

Much love for mile 200
The rusty copper pipe! Fuller Ridge is tedious, thru-hikers need something to look forward to at the end of it. There are many comments about how wonderful the pipe is.

I briefly met some of the new people I had passed in the day and went to sleep early. The desert floor needed to be crossed before dawn.

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