San Jacinto: First Snow Encounter

In my regular life I avoid watching trailers to movies, I want to go in as blind as I can to the film so I have no pre assumed opinion on the film. Everything is a surprise and I love it. It’s not the best method on trail.

The four ladies

50 miles in some Flip Floping southbounders (meaning they will do a section of the trail south and another section north) tell me that I should have my microspikes for San Jacinto but dont need them for mount Baden Powell. None of which meant anything to me at the time. All I know is I need my snow spikes sooner than I expected. I got address changed on the package I had set up for Kennedy Meadows and proceeded to not fret about the upcoming section of snow.

The faithful day comes of the first real mountain and first snow sightings, I camp right before the snow section alone and plan to start early so the snow stays hard packed before the sun makes it all slushy. There is an app called ‘Far Out’ everyone uses to navigate, it can pin your location along the trail line so you can see if your on track or not. Unfortunately if I zoomed into my map the red line that shows the trail would disappear so it rendered useless this day. I’m bothered but no worries I’ll just follow the tracks in the snow and be okay. Though these tracks weren’t always right and when the snow stopped briefly I would not be able to figure out where trail is. So I would wonder around find the trail again and carry on for 5 miles of this. I got to a trail junction (I didn’t know I was at a trail junction) took the wrong way, crossed a stream, walked until I saw the footsteps I was following start to disappear. Okay so I’m not on the PCT no worries just backtrack like I’ve been doing. But foot prints went every which way and I couldn’t recall exactly where I crossed the stream. I wonder around till I couldn’t see any foot prints other than my own convoluted mess. I want to panic but I force that down because I had so much food, water, battery life, gear I wouldn’t die, it just might suck for awhile while I try to find myself in these pine forest. With all this in mind I still break down crying, I don’t want to be lost, and this is the start of how things go horrible! I am in the valley ridge of two mountains, the one I just decended off of and the one I was supposed to start climbing, San Jacinto I want to go back where I came from because there is less snow, less of a climb and I’m positive there is service at the top of that mountain.

I walk straight up calling hello occasionally incase I hear someone respond to me, but trail is not that populated with people, sometimes I sit for lunch and have not a single person pass me. After an hour of directly walking up hill I made it to a part that started looking familiar and I found trail. Crying still, I begin to walk southbound to go back into the last town and just collect myself and not deal with getting lost in this snowy mountain again, maybe catch a movie. I was extremely frustrated and sad that I got defeated a bit. Then I see four ladies who I met yesterday who see me crying give me a hug ask me if I want to continue northbound with them. I want to try again and they put me right in the middle, safe in this conga line sandwich and we hike the portion of trail I’ve already done nice and slow. A little too slow for my normal hiking taste but I signed off on all navigation and I’m still shook up so as long as I’m safely making it over I’m comfortable with whatever speed they want to go.

The Two Friends

During our snack break I see two other hikers, Bikai and Snaps, I’ve been camping with since day 3. I leave my sandwich and hike with them for awhile. Climbing up the snowy mountain was slow going but fine we we’re able to not get lost but have to keep checking the app with the map to readjust our trajectory, so lots of bush wacking and climbing straight up or straight down the slope. It’s exhausting and a bit annoying but fine enough, till the weather turns. It was cloudy and chilly most of the day then it turns to hail and rain. Its coming down hard that it hurts my exposed hands and legs and now I’m growing very cold from the rain my fingers lose dexterity. Us three and another hiker who we haven’t met take refuge under a tree, still getting wet and cold but atleast not getting pelted, we stay there for about 30 minutes.

The Lady from Switzerland

Bikai and snaps hike on but now a bit slower so I now keep the pace of the other hiker, Tatianna, shes fast and steady and I’m so over hiking in this snow I just want to be at camp. Luckily the rain stopped so it was just a matter of keeping my head down follow Tianna like a puppy dog and hike on slipping and sliding over the snowy ridge. We get into camp just before dark eat some dinner and I share my appreciation for her and all the others hikers that helped me get over that mountain, because without everyone I would have been happily watching a movie in town warm and comfortable. It was the second hardest day of hiking I’ve ever done, and made me really question my ability to hike through the Sierra’s this year.

Most days out here are sunshine and easy going terrain so san Jacinto was a good reminder that backpacking is hard work and entails some bad days. Its not always fun and games and thats okay, the day was something to remember for sure. I love planet and getting to be apart of it so intimately

Shout outs of graditude!

Mama Tink and Pat! Who hosted me and two other hikers spontaneously in Big Bear Lake. Let us use their indoor jacuzzi, have dinner with them and their friends Lori, and Dana. They all also leave water and snacks on trail for the hikers as well as drove us back to trail it was an immaculate experience beautiful house and big belly laughs.

Altitution! Morning trail magic, I was just about to leave camp and he came over and asked me and a few others if we wanted pancakes with blueberries on the side. Got me up and over the mountain.

Corgi legs aka Eric! He sold me a used tent that I desperately wanted to upgrade to. While during this sales transaction he let me shower laundry even washed my sleeping bag! Us and his daughter went to REI so I can return my old tent we went out for pizza played some arcade games and had an absolute blast. Then I still hit the trail to crank out 10 miles after a full day of trail magic.

Madi! A girl I met in Sun Valley Idaho before trail she sent me a nice big text message of encouragement that I got right after hiking San Jacinto so it was perfect timing and just so sweet.

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Comments 2

  • Paige : Jun 13th

    Please be careful. Do you have maps and land navigation skills in case your electronics go? This year is no joke in the Sierras and requires ice axe knowledge. I am hoping that everyone stays safe up there.
    Enjoy that trail magic! Wishing you much joy on your journey.

    • Stretch : Jun 30th

      Hi Paige, yes I do have paper maps and the knowledge to use it! It was a great learning experience and a reminder that getting lost is real and to take the Sierra’s seriously. I am now with a group that has two people with actual mountaineering experience so I am feeling safe to keep trudging through the snow. Thanks for the concern! Luckily my farout has stopped being glitchy too.


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