Day 12: Mile 126.5-140, plus 0.5 miles off trail for water; 14 miles
Day 13: Mile 140-156; 16 miles
Day 14: Mile 156-167.5; 11.5 miles
Day 15: Mile 167.5-179.5 + 2.5 mile side trail into Idyllwild; 14.5 miles
Day 16: Zero day in Idyllwild
In the last few days we experienced many changes in our surroundings and our bodies.
In 53 miles we walked from desert to pine forest, and from 3500 feet of elevation to 8600 feet. Cacti and scrub brush dominated the low lying desert landscape of the Anza Borrego Desert State Park.
By contrast, in the high peaks of the San Jacinto Wilderness, pine trees hugged the mountainsides.
In the desert we rose early, before 6, to walk a few miles before the sun’s heat grew intense. Around noon we found a shady spot to cook dinner and rest. Conversely, high in the San Jacinto range, the temperature was much cooler so we could walk comfortably mid-day.
Due to the temperature difference, water availability also differed dramatically between these two sections of the PCT. In the desert, water was scarce and we were ever mindful of our distance to the next spring, cistern, or water cache. Water’s scarcity made it precious, and we were especially grateful for it.
At 8000 feet, water was all around us in the form of snow!
It was exciting to observe all of these changes in such a short period.
After living outdoors and hiking long distances for over two weeks, our bodies are beginning to adapt. Most notably, we have experienced greater hunger, and tend to snack all day long. As our bodies adjust to our walking pace, they are also demanding more sleep, typically 10 hours each night.
At first glance, our dirtiness was the most visible change. We took our first showers of the trip today, and did our first laundry. We look strangely clean now and are ready to get dirty again!
“… all of it offered a palette in time and space where beauty was anchored to change.” – Gail Caldwell