Snow Patrol, Dino Photo-Op, and then Back into the Furnace – Days 12-15

Day 12

Mileage: 180.8-200.5 + 2 miles for San Jacinto

We woke up to our chilliest morning yet and dinked around not wanting to get out of the tent. It was a morning with two passengers aboard the struggle bus. We had around 4 miles to get to the top of Mt. San Jacinto, a peak that is not a part of the PCT, but we didn’t want to walk right by without seeing it.

We both had our micro spikes that we picked up in Warner Springs and were glad we had them. (You could do it without but it would be a slower journey) We arrived at the summit and it was BEAUTIFUL!

On our way down we got lost in a sea of footprints on the snow leading in every direction. Thankfully Guthooks steered us in the right direction (we will never stop mentioning this app because it’s saved our butts SO many times already). The remainder of our day was mostly downhill as we were traveling from 10,834 ft at the peak, down to the desert floor at 1,341 ft!

We were crossing over gushing waterfalls that were cascading down the trail all morning before we finally stopped for water some time later.

Upon arriving at Snow Creek we found the area to be completely covered in lady bugs! I’m talking, they were everywhere, in pods floating down the creek, all over all of the rocks, flying in the air similar to swarms of flies. It was the most strange and interesting thing to see.

See, I told you there were a lot!

We had originally planned to camp a few miles before the 200 mile marker but decided since we were getting off trail the next day to visit a family friend we would hike a little farther to have less mileage then. So we hit the 200 mile marker now, WOOHOO!

DAY 13

Mileage: 200.5 – 209.5

We woke up very excited and ready to go, town days are always a reason to celebrate but today I (Kelsey) was getting to see one of my dads best friends growing up who I hadn’t seen since I was a little kid. She offered to pick us up near the I-10 highway and that meant we only had 9 miles for our day. It was a hot morning and we could see the I-10 the whole time (such a tease!).

A sandy walk to the I-10

We arrived at the underpass around 10:15 and Kelly came to pick us up shortly after. She then took us immediately to the Cabazon Dinosaurs (of course we had to see that).

She took us home and we had showers, fresh clothes to borrow, laundry in, a delicious lunch at Panera, and a quick resupply from the Walmart Market…all by 2 o’ clock! It was amazing! Cody and I next took advantage of the pool with our new friend Buttercup. We loved soaking our feet for the first time since starting the trail.

Kelly and her husband James then spoiled us with Mexican food and the margaritas we’ve been salivating over every day this week. It was really the most perfect stay and we did not want to leave. It’s always nice to go into town but Kelly and her wonderful family made this stop extra special for us.

DAY 14

Mileage : 209.5 – 229.0

We woke up early and Kelly took us back to the trailhead to get some miles in before the heat of the day. We appreciate everything she did for us, caravanning us around and letting us use her home (even as stinky as we were). We said our goodbyes and headed on into the desert.

It was a pretty day and the wind was whooshing through the desert giving us a nice cool start to the day. We walked passed the San Gorgonio wind farm and enjoyed the views of San Jacinto in the background, now getting smaller and smaller.

Mt. San Jacinto still peeking out behind the turbines

We soon turned a corner and the wind disappeared, the sun seemed to intensify, and the heat hit us like a sack of bricks. This lasted the majority of the day and we averted the heat as often as we could by crawling into and under bushes that provided shade. We got to see our first rattlesnake before hitting Whitewater river where we both submerged ourselves.

Rattlesnake – 3 ft long but a beaut!

The last bit of trail this day was through a tributary to the river, Mission Creek. Sometime earlier this year both the river and the creek were massively flooded taking the majority of the trail with it through a 10 mile section. It was BANANAS trying to find the trail and we crossed from side to side on the creek no less than 30 times. It was tiring walking through thick sand and over large rocks and trees but we finally made it to camp. It was not the most fun day on trail but you’ll have those, it can’t be rainbows and unicorns everyday!!

Day 15

Mileage: 229.0 – 251.0

We woke up at 5am to try and beat some of the heat. It worked because down in the valley the sun didn’t touch us for a whole two hours and it was MAGICAL. It was much less desert-y thankfully as we were gaining elevation on our way toward Big Bear. We finally finished the 10 miles of washed out trail through Mission Creek and were strolling back through pine trees.

Mission Creek snaking through the valley floor

We keep getting awesome views of the snow covered San Gorgonio, the highest peak in SoCal. We kind of want to hike it but our bodies will be glad it’s not a part of this trail haha.

We hit 20.4 miles around 4 o’ clock and stopped to prop our legs up and make some dinner. We then hiked another mile and a half or so and set up our home for the night.

We are feeling very blessed to get to be on this journey, whether the day is hard or easy, hot or cold, we’re feeling the love from everybody so thank you to anyone reading this! We appreciate you all!

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