Saturday, May 6
Stop: Fuller TH, mile 190.5
Our shuttle ride is scheduled to leave around 815am for Devil’s Slide Trail. Just before departure, Gramps realizes that he left his trekking pole at their hotel from two nights ago. He runs over but the front desk doesn’t open until 9am. I try to reassure him that getting a hitch will probably be really easy but he’s frantic and terrified of losing the group. To my utter dismay, he decides to leave his pole behind and gets in our shuttle car.
I didn’t know, but the group is planning to do the Mt. San Jacinto trail plus peak route. I have about 2 minutes to decide whether I go with them or stay on the PCT. I say, what the hell, might as well see something new. I’m huffing and puffing and the climb is slow. Lots of day hikers are out for the summit too. I make it to the summit, 10,834 ft., just as everyone is leaving. Gramps mumbles some rude comments as I share the path with those descending the summit. Toe Gap sweetly offers to return to the summit and take my picture. I snap a few pictures and then I’m headed back down. I know we’ve got to push it as the storm is starting to crest over the mountain.
The descent back to the PCT goes quickly until we find ourselves off-trail traversing through steep, snowy forest. We slowly pick our way down and I manage to take a hard fall with my left elbow slamming into a rock. I immediately think it’s broken but somehow the darn things still works. We reach the PCT and gather water as the sky starts to spit on us. Rain skirt, jacket and pack cover go on, umbrella up against the wind. We still have to traverse Fuller Ridge and the storm is hitting hard. Pithy 40-50 mph winds rip across the ridge as I pick my way from side to side. With my rain jacket zipped up I overheat and have to stop and adjust. I also have some debilitating gas (left over Cinco de Mayo gifts no doubt) which stops me until I fire my nitrous booters. Like two worlds, the east side of the Fuller Ridge is calm while the west side is a war against the wind and pelting rain. And another world entirely is the desert floor miles below us.
I catch up with the group at the Fuller Ridge Trailhead Camp. First I run off to go pee and change my tampon which makes for a drafty experience. It’s a bit of a shit show but I eventually get my tent setup and all my gear inside. I’m cold but at least I’m not wet. I put on my long johns and get into my sleeping bag. I lay there chattering, hoping for a bit of warmth to return to my body. I listen to rain turn into sleet. Me and Bubby stick close together just listening to the battle going on outside (Bubby is my stuffed owl travel companion that I got at Crater Lake on my last PCT thru). My elbow and tweaked back are killing me so I eat an eddible with some dinner snacks. But mostly, I’m just lying here waiting for warmth to push away my shivers and hoping that my tent holds against the wind.