I’m sitting under the partial shade of a large fir tree, 5,000 feet above baking hot San Gorgonio pass, which separates the San Jacintos from the San Bernadinos and sits on a fault line. The heat of the pass is known to be a hiker’s nemesis at mid-day, so I’m waiting out the afternoon here to descend the last 12 miles / 5,000 feet to the desert floor. I’ve just about made it through the San Jacintos without much of a scratch, although the lactic acid is still clearing itself from my legs as the trail grew quite steep, reaching a height of 9,100 feet yesterday evening.
I’ve altered my daily routine somewhat. In the past, I usually stopped someplace at the end of the day, cooked dinner, relaxed, and slept. What I’ve recently started doing is making dinner in the late afternoon, taking a long break, then walking another hour or two into the early evening. It’s a good way to make some miles when the weather’s cooler.
The San Jacintos have really been fantastic. The range itself is a bit of an oasis from the desert below. Up here at 6,000 feet there are evergreens and cool air, a nice respite from the usual chaparral and cacti. I’ve been hiking for the last few days with some of the usual suspects and some newer folk. Three people: Hitch, Cabana Boy, and Dad’s Grin have taken the trail side down into Idyllwild. Billy Goat and Captain America are somewhere behind me by a few hours. I’ve enjoyed everyone’s company quite a bit.
Billy Goat and Captain America are particularly interesting. Both are well known distance hikers. They both look like hobos with long beards mixed with gray and brown. Captain America is from Florida, but likes to talk about his travels around New Zealand and Nepal. Billy Goat “lives on the trail” and knows the PCT like the back of his hand since he’s ben up an down it umpteen times. He and Captain America hiked the Florida Trail together over the winter. Due to their beards and weathered appearance, it is hard to guess their ages, but I’d put Captain America in his 50s and Billy Goat in his 60s. I made Billy Goat a pair of arch supports yesterday using my sleeping pad, scissors, and tape. Not a bad job I must admit! (See photo below.)
Most of the other folks I’ve been hiking with have gone into Idyllwild to take a zero day, which puts me a 1/2-full day ahead. I don’t mind this as much since I’ll have a little more time on my own and probably meet a few new people. I have to spend most of tomorrow in Cabazon anyhow so I’m expecting most everyone will catch up to me.