Apache, Idyllwild, San Jacinto: Days 12-16

Going Into The Snow

The crew was Tbone, Smoothie, Juice, Crumbs, and myself.
We left PVC Saturday morning and pushed through Spitler and Apache. We were all prepared with microspikes and ice axes. The first day out there wasn’t much snow, just a lot of blow downs to crawl over or under.

The snow became more prominent the further we went up to the point where microspikes were a necessity. We had our ice axes in hand in the event we fell and needed to self arrest. I personally enjoy the snow and have some snow experience so I felt confident. Confidence and the right gear was all I needed for these parts, and a good group to do it with.

There were only a few spots I didn’t like where we had to crawl over a blowdown while also being on a steep pitch, with little to no room to put your feet.


Towards the end of the day it became more flat, but the snow didn’t stop. My Achilles ached and I was extremely fatigued. I had been having issues with my nutrition. I’d eat a couple oatmeal packets, bars, candy, and a pop tart. Nothing sustainable to hike 15+ miles a day. I was struggling and in the back of the pack. Everyone else was tired and over the day as well, our feet were so soggy.

Smoothie chilling, putting on microspikes

The goal was to make it to Idyllwild from devils slide that day but we ended up finding camp off of saddle junction.

It ended up being my favorite camp site so far. I cowboy camped for the first time.

The most epic camp

Zero in Idyllwild

We took a zero in Idyllwild. After coming down devils slide we got a ride from a trail angel Grumpy. We ate breakfast at the Red Kettle where I got pancakes, eggs, sausage, home fries and downed three cups of coffee. I can’t believe how hungry I was, I had not been eating enough at all. I decided after that I’d buy a stove. I had been cold soaking with a Talenti container, which was going well, but the stove would help me eat more. I took a shower at the cabin the guys were staying at, did laundry at the laundromat, and camped at the campground. I resuppied at a market, bought some first aid supplies, and wrote out postcards to family back home at a cafe. I made the decision to send my camera home, all my camera gear weighed 5lbs. 5lbs of agony. We also met back up with Avi! She’d join back up with us after visiting with her parents near PVC.

I love sending postcards!

I was hoping to meet the mayor of Idyllwild, a golden Retriever named Max, but he unfortunately was not around.

We had dinner at a Mexican restaurant the night before we set off to San Jacinto.

Summiting San Jacinto

I got one last coffee at a cafe in town before we hit the trail. We had to go back up devils slide to get back on the pct, any miles off trail or back is a pain…

There were only a couple miles to summit, but they were all in snow. Soft snow. We should’ve started early in the morning before the sun softened it. The trail got steep quickly. My legs were burning and my lungs were struggling for air.

Summiting was underwhelming to be honest but I was so happy to sit and eat lunch. We enjoyed the views and watched glider planes soar around us. It was the highest elevation I’d ever been at 10,834 feet.

After lunch we had some fun glissading down, AKA sliding on our butts. My REI rain pants were way too fast though, I was flying. At some points we had to dig our axes into the snow to slow ourselves down. A couple of us fell and had to use our axes unexpectedly…

The goal was to make it to dry ground the same day but we were struggling to keep going in the slush. We set up camp, my first time camping in the snow.

Huddled on the largest flat rock we could find, and ate dinner together. I was very happy to use my stove. I love eating meals as a group on trail. Food brings people together. It’s a time we can relax and chat about the trail, and finally, eat. I watched the sunset enjoying a moment to myself before going to sleep. The second prettiest sunset I’d seen on trail.

Leaving the Snow

The next day I hit dry ground! It was strange going from snow to desert like terrain in one day. The rattlesnakes were there to meet me too. I came very close to stepping on one it rattled and hissed at me. Juice was behind me around the corner and heard me scream.
The view of San Jacinto was amazing, I had been up there just the other day! I hit 200 miles and felt so good. Everyday is a personal best for me out here.

Some miles later I tripped on a rock and face planted, very hard. My nose was gushing blood and my shins were torn up.

Thankfully I only had a couple more miles to camp. I met back up with the crew after losing them at the last water source. I had to put my bag down and hike back to find my supposedly lost sunglasses, which ended up being looped around my ice axe the whole time… it was a long couple days I was excited to hit Cabazon the next day.

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Comments 1

  • Maggie Buzzell : May 2nd

    Emma, I see you are from Gilmanton, NH. My grandson (Hornet) is right behind you on the trail. He is from Freedom, NH. Hope you meet up with him and his lady (Flotus). Have fun and enjoy.


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