12 April 2021
Red Tahquitz to Fuller Ridge Trailhead
PCT Mile 174.5 to 190.5
Boy did I sleep well last night! It was calm and chilly in the little sandy saddle we camped in, and I only woke up twice to pee and both times fell right back asleep.
You know it was a tough day yesterday because we arrived at 7pm last night and all the other hikers there were already asleep!
Well, today was just as tough, not so much because of the distance or the elevation gain, but because we were hiking in snow most of the day.
This morning I packed up before Goose and took time to explore the little peak next to our campsite.
Then we started hiking and almost immediately hit the snow at 8,500 feet. I don’t have a lot of pictures of us hiking in it because it’s hard work!
We stopped for water after a couple of miles and ran into several other hikers Goose knew.
Thankfully, the climb up the southeast slope of the mountain is exposed to the sun, so we had many snow-free sections where we could hike at a normal pace.
At the junction where the PCT splits from the summit trail, we met Candace and another hiker. Candace was vacillating about summiting, so when she heard we were heading up, she decided to go too.
We leapfrogged with her all the way to the summit and got a chance to chat with her for a while at the next water stop, Wellman’s Cienega. She majored in political science at American and then worked as a management consultant, but now she is “funemployed!”
We hit snow again above 9,000 feet, though we occasionally had dry sections in the chaparral that were exposed to the sun.
And by 1pm we were at the summit.
John Muir said: “The view from San Jacinto is the most sublime spectacle to be found anywhere on this earth!” And he’s not wrong!
Candace had to head back down the way she came to meet friends headed into Idyllwild, so we said our usual “see you down the trail” and parted ways as Goose and I headed down a trail on the northeast face of the mountain.
And boy, was it full of snow! I have no pictures from that part because we struggled for hours with slush and route finding and postholing up to our knees on occasion.
When we got back to the PCT there was a glorious dry stretch.
But then the trail turned north and we were back in the thick of it. On one slope I post holed up to my nuts – ouch! Goose caught only the aftermath on film as I rolled down the slope, because it was too cold for me to keep my leg in there for the shot!
The final section on Fuller Ridge also has a reputation for being sketchy, having claimed lives like the section we did yesterday where Trevor died. But the path for us was well established today from other people’s steps. It required concentration in steep parts, but the chance of an injury-inducing slide was low.
After 19 miles (summiting added some miles compared to the PCT route around the south face) we rolled into camp just barely ahead of the time we got into camp yesterday. Yikes! We thought we’d arrive two hours earlier than we did. It was a tough afternoon. But we made it!
Our campsite here is full of tents but there is plenty of room to spread out. The wind on the ridge is howling, but there is just a gentle breeze here in this protected spot in the woods.
On Postholing in Short Shorts
Snow can be so cold,
Especially when your leg
Goes all the way in