May 2, 2016: Jameson and I got up early to wet tents that needed drying from the condensation the night before. We hung out our tents in the sunlight and ate breakfast while Oden and Freya slept in. The Nordic couple were still night up when we hit the trail. I was limping behind a few miles while Jameson sped ahead. We took the Mt. San Jacinto peak alternate trail and I quickly gained a deep appreciation for how well the PCT was both marked and maintained.
The San Jacinto alternate trail was beautiful, but a laborious climb up a jagged and rocky, often poorly marked trail. We hit expected icy patches, during which I was more than happy to have my microspikes. I fell farther behind during the climb, but cannot say I was unhappy to have a bit of wild alone time. That said, the rocky trail was killing my already tender left foot (the top of the foot near the ankle swollen and painful to the touch). Every sideways jarring of the foot by another unstable rock making me swear in sharp pain – sometimes loudly.
Near the peak the landscape turned to a winter wonderland of icy fir trees, but rounding the corner to the actual summit, little deep snow still remained.
I stayed at the summit of 10,821ft only briefly for the view before heading back down before nightfall. Breathing the cold, oxygen-thin air was becoming a chore but the view worth it.
Coming down the north side was much more treacherous- much of the trail was snow covered and footprint paths were leading way off the trail. I was not the only hiker to be led astray, pulling out my GPS for the first time to find my way back to the trail, post holing up a ravine through deep soft snow.
It was noticeable when the alternate intersected the PCT. There was a trail again to follow! By the time I made it off the alternate the sun was setting. I kept going down the mountain intending to catch up to Jameson camping at a spot just before Fuller Ridge. But, as the sun set, a perfect single tent spot tucked into three boulders shielding the cold wind called to me. I set up camp and slept, with a little help from vitamin I (ibuprofen) as my feet were killing me. The right foot joining the left in pain on the top outer side near the ankle was depressing. I began to have thoughts of the hiker- dreaded, hike-ending injury – stress fracture. But I was determined to think of that tomorrow.
Elevation gain/loss: 2009/-2113