How to Descend Mt. San Jacinto in 23 Easy Steps*

Day 8: Mount San Jacinto Summit to Mile 200.5

May 10, 2019

Trail miles ~185.5-200.5 plus ~2.5 miles from the summit to the PCT

1. Wake at 5am and bumble around in the dank summit shelter as you and 8 of your friends try to pack your bags by the light of too many too tiny headlamps.

2. Shiver across the snow, looking for the trail you know is just off to the left somewhere.

3. Realize the trail was just off to the right.

4. Celebrate your navigational prowess by eating a bar.

5. Proceed down the snow at < 1mph, checking constantly to be sure you’re not off-route.

6. Stop at 8am just long enough to pour a bag of crushed potato chips down your throat.

7. Avoid calling for Search and Rescue by crossing the creek without slipping on a snowbank, spraining your ankle, and dunking your pack in the icy water (as one hapless hiker did last week).

8. Celebrate the end of your snowy detour and your return to the non-snowy PCT with a packet of chocolate frosted donettes.

9. Realize that your celebration was premature, as you are about to follow the PCT down 3 miles of slick snow on Fuller Ridge.

10. Descend into the cloud layer, where the forest is freezing, wet, and silent.

11. Plan a lunch break at the water source 7 miles ahead.

12. Repeat Step 5 for 3 miles, stopping occasionally to chew tortillas and gnaw on a block of cheese.

13. Give up on your planned lunch break and stop at the first non-snowy site available.

14. Hike on in an attempt to return some warm blood to your wooden fingers.

15. Strip off your layers as the warm breath of the desert rises to meet you.

16. Descend until your feet weep, your knees cry out in agony, and you simply cannot continue.

17. Check the map, realize you haven’t lost nearly as much elevation as you thought, and revisit the previous step.

18. Take your mind to that special place where physical suffering is meaningless.

19. Descend until physical suffering becomes meaningful again.

20. Stumble upon a friend at the first decent campsite in miles.

21. Call it a day, eat dinner in the dirt, and complain about your sore feet.

22. Retreat to your tent and try to sleep, thinking about the additional 2,000’ you must descend in the morning.

23. Smile; you chose to be here.

*Physical steps required may exceed 23

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