mile 179.4 –194.5 (plus 5 miles for San Jacinto loop)
I wasn’t sure what time I should try to get back on the trail. After spending an entire day in town yesterday, I was ready to get back as early as possible, but Muk Muk wasn’t going to be ready to leave until the afternoon, and Dr. Sole was coming to visit later in the morning on his way to help hikers at Paradise Valley Cafe. I wished he could have come by yesterday, but he was timing his schedule to meet Muk Muk’s. I was the first to wake up and head out for breakfast. I sat at the same table that I had chosen the day before and thought I was going to be eating alone. Then I heard someone calling my name. I looked up to see the guy who had driven me to the seamstress yesterday. Oh, boy… I had no choice but to join him at the counter. He wanted to know why I hadn’t come by the restaurant he was at last night. I told him that everyone else was set on getting pizza. He gave me his card and wanted my e-mail- not my website. At one point, he turned to the customers and said, “This is Wendy! She’s hiking the PCT.” An older man came over to chat and I started to feel a bit famous, even though I was only one of hundreds of people trying to hike the whole trail, and I hadn’t even hiked 200 miles of it yet! This little town was starting to grow on me! I paid my bill and headed back to the cabin to pack everything up. Muk Muk and UB weren’t there- only the guy who wouldn’t pay. I let him know I was leaving and he barely looked at me. As I headed back toward the center of town, I heard someone calling me. Muk Muk and UB were at the coffee shop, so I went up to join them. Then, Dr. Sole called Muk Muk, letting her know he had arrived in town. We went down to meet him and then returned to the coffee shop. We told Dr. Sole about the guy in our cabin and he became very protective of us! He said he would tell the owner to kick him and his stuff out and make him pay me. However, by the time he did that, the guy was gone… I was worried she would throw UB’s and Muk Muk’s stuff out! As I was waiting for Dr. Sole to give me a ride back to the trail, a nice lady asked me if I needed a ride and I decided to take her up on it, as Dr. Sole’s truck was full and he didn’t know where the trailhead was. Muk Muk and I said a teary good-bye to each other. She said that I was like family to her! And then Dr. Sole gave me a hug and a kiss on the lips (hmmm…). Kim happened to be in the same area and also wanted a ride back to the trail. Maeux, our driver, was so excited to take us back! She had a little notebook with all of the names of the hikers that she had given rides to written in it.
It was 10am by the time I got to the trail head. First I had to hike the 2.5 miles back up Devil’s Slide trail before rejoining the PCT. On the way up, two older passed me on their way into town and asked me what my name was. I said, “Sashay.” One of them said, “I like your hat, Sashay.” Thanks! I smiled and moved my head from side to side. My energy is always strongest leaving town, after having eaten real food, showered, and rested a bit!
I wanted to hike San Jacinto peak, so I took the side trail off the PCT, adding a few extra miles to my journey. On the way up, I came across several people on day hikes. One woman was stretching, which I thought was smart, and a couple of guys were taking a break in the same area. I decided to stop and chat a bit. When the woman found out what I was doing, she was amazed. “You should have a camera crew following you, girl!” she said. I told her that lots of people were doing this… “But not dressed like that!”.
Then, one of the men asked me if I would like a kiwi! Wow! A fresh piece of fruit is the greatest gift to a thru-hiker! After having my picture taken, I continued up the mountain, passing a couple of other day hikers and making my way across the next snow patches. Finally, I reached the hut and the cone of the peak.
I couldn’t find a path to the top, however! I went around one side and started to make my way up some huge boulders. I could hear voices coming from the top, but couldn’t figure out how they got up there! I soon realized that I wasn’t going to be able to rock climb with my heavy pack on my back, so I retreated back and tried another side of the mountain. After what seemed an eternity, I scaled my way up a different side of the rocks and reached the summit! Kim and the day hikers that I had passed were on top. I threw down my pack and let out a big sigh. I couldn’t figure out how the guys got up there before me! After I had my picture taken at the top, one of them made a comment about doing handstands up there, which put an idea into my head…
I couldn’t do a handstand, but I could do an arm balance! I bent down and tried to do a crow pose. This was not a smart thing to do on an extremely uneven, very hard surface, with an abyss below that I could have easily toppled into! And after not having done an arm balance for several weeks now! I managed not to kill myself, however, and instead attracted interest! All of a sudden, I had an audience and several cameras on me! Very fun!
Before I knew it, I was joining them in their summit pictures, and then it dissolved into a modelling session!I was laughing so much!
I started yelling out my website and e-mail for them to send the photos to. (“And take your time because I’ll just be out here for the next five months!). This part of my personality rarely has a chance to come out, so when it does, it is the best feeling!
Sam, who had given me the kiwi, and his friend made it up to the summit as the others turned back and they asked me more about my hike. They assumed I had grown up backpacking with my family as a kid, but I told them that this was something I discovered on my own. They shared a couple more treats, including some pepperoni and cheese from Trader Joes’s (amazing!) before heading back down. Since I had a little cell reception, I took the opportunity to call someone from back home, who I hadn’t been able to reach since I was out here. While I was having a great time on top of the second tallest peak in Southern California, he was in a grumpy mood. We kept getting cut off, so I headed back down the rock scramble and made my way towards the PCT hoping that he would be able to find the same kind of freedom and happiness in his life that I had found out here. I collected water and then caught up to Kim who was still amused at the summit entertainment. I told her it was keeping me amused, too! She said she was going to start calling me “model”. A little ways ahead, I found Anastasia, Archie, and Joey (Leftovers), on the side of the trail having a snack. They were talking about walking all night until they arrived at trail angels’ Ziggy and the Bear’s house. We had a notoriously long, hot, waterless, never-ending descent into Cabazon before reaching this little haven. I knew I wasn’t going to be able to hike all night but decided to hike as far as I could and do at least part of the awful descent when the sun wasn’t burning down on me. Kim and I hiked a bit together as the sun set. “We’re walking into the sunset!” I said.
The rocky terrain reminded me of Dragon’s Tooth on the AT. We separated into our own space as the light disappeared. This was the first time that I night-hiked on this trail and I really enjoyed it (until the elastic band around my head started giving me a headache)! I even got to take a break on a rock and look down at the lights of Cabazon. It was really peaceful and really pretty. As the miles wore on, my energy faded. I leaned my back up against a rock and took out the kiwi I was given. Unfortunately, it wasn’t yet ripe, so it was very difficult to peel and quite bitter. I decided it was time to look for a camp spot and luckily found a sandy spot right off a bend in the trail. I set up my groundcloth, sleeping pad, and sleeping bag and closed my eyes just after 11pm.