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PCT 2019: Day 17, Stealth Tentsite at Mile 187.3 to Fuller Ridge

Just then the wind came squalling through the door

Hike with Gravity

Though Tengo Hambre and I had tucked our tents tightly among rocks, trees and shrubs, we weren’t completely protected from the blast of wind that hit us overnight. My tent began to flap and shudder as the wind picked up.

The wind became increasingly gusty by morning, which I estimated to be up to 40 mph at times.

It was a good thing I had anchored my tent well, but I didn’t really have much choice for that. The space for our tents was so tight and the ground was so rocky I had to use rocks and tree branches to tie off the tent ropes instead of using stakes.

Date
Weather High winds in the morning; continued breezy all day with variable cloudiness and temperatures from the low 40s to the mid 60s
Trail Conditions Mushy snow for most of first five miles with a few difficult traverses, then a long and steady downhill over mostly smooth path
Today's Miles 9.9 miles
Trip Miles 197.2 miles

After breaking a trekking pole and losing a water bottle yesterday, Tengo’s bad luck continued this morning. As he was taking down his tent a blast of wind caused a connector piece in his tent poles to snap.

With a constant fight against the wind, it took extra time to finish packing. We then walked a short distance to where MJ and Rainbow Sherbet were camped.

They were almost finished packing, but had also found the wind difficult to manage. We gave them a hand and began hiking together at 7 a.m.

The first section of the day was the snowy slope where we turned around yesterday evening.

It was more icy this morning, which was a good thing. This made the slope a little less difficult and dangerous to manage.

Microspikes work better in icy conditions than they do in slushy snow.

As the sun rose, the snow didn’t stay icy for long. We were soon slowed down by poor traction.

Once we reached Castle Rocks we were on a side of the mountain that received more sunlight and this was mostly snow free.

We didn’t expect the trail to stay this way for long, though, so we didn’t stop to remove our microspikes.

That guess turned out to be true. The slope of the mountain wasn’t as steep as before, but the walking was still sometimes treacherous because the snow was so slushy and slippery.

We followed footsteps in the snow, which didn’t always stay directly on the trail. Previous hikers couldn’t see the trail’s exact path and had to navigate as best they could over the deep snow, but now the depth was diminishing.

Obstacles like shrubs and rocks were sometimes barely exposed along our path. These added to the difficulty of walking across the snow.

Tengo, Sherbet, MJ and I arrived at a picnic area at 11:30 a.m. Jukebox was there with a hiker named Kevin.

The picnic area was in a sunny spot, but we weren’t able to warm up much because of the wind, which continued to be gusty.

After a long break, we continued walking two-tenths of a mile to where the trail followed a road.

As the trail descended along this road the snow depth lessened considerably. Once we got seven-tenths of a mile beyond where the trail turned away from the road we finally left the last of the snow.

It felt good to take off my microspikes and walk on solid ground again. From here on, the trail was easy and mostly gradual as it descended Fuller Ridge.

From the ridge we frequently had sweeping views of the San Jacinto Mountains and a region of California known perhaps a little grandiosely as the Inland Empire. The area includes the communities of San Bernardino, Riverside, Ontario, and Temecula.

The predominant part of our view was Coachella Valley, which is bounded by the San Jacinto and Santa Rosa Mountains, where we were now, and San Bernardino Mountains, where the trail would take us in a few days.

As we continued down the trail we finally caught up with Captain and Gilligan. We had not seen them since the middle of yesterday afternoon and they didn’t know Sherbet had caught up with us. It was a happy reunion.

We discussed where we wanted to stop for the night. There weren’t many options because most of the campsites described in the Guthooks trail guide app mentioned they were exposed and windy. We didn’t want any more of that.

One campsite’s description made no mention of wind, so we settled on that one.

Continuing our descent, I enjoyed views of San Jacinto Mountain. I noticed that a band of clouds passed over the mountain, but disappeared on the other side. They were evaporating as they hit the dry air of the desert valley.

We reached our chosen campsite at 4:15 p.m. This felt a little too early to stop and we had not walked far today, but we decided to stay anyway. This spot gave us some protection from the wind, as we had hoped it would.

After finishing a difficult section of the trail, it was nice to just sit and unwind.

The wonderful view of the mountains added to this relaxing and peaceful evening, in contrast to the difficulty and stress of the last 24 hours.

Just then the wind came squalling through the door
But who can the weather command
Just want to have a little peace to die
And a friend or two I love at hand

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