Day 12 – I’m Going Down, Down, Down

Strawberry Fields to Water Faucet
Mile 182.6 – Mile 205.7

The desert awaits

I knew today was going to be a big descent day leaving the high San Jacinto Wilderness and arriving at the desert floor where Interstate 10 cuts through near Cabazon

First light in the forest
Spent ammunition

I broke camp early and enjoyed a cool, quiet forest, the winds of the night having fled. Yet again, part of the challenge today was water with the last reliable source, the North Fork of the San Jacinto River, crossing the trail around mile 186. That was it until the water faucet at mile 205 so I loaded up four liters.

Cold fresh water!
It looks so close
Such an innocent sign

At about 11:30 the valley floor, I-10, and the wind farms came into view. They would remain a fixture all day, never seeming to get closer despite my continued plodding. Little shade and an uneven, rocky trail added to the difficulty. There was no stopping with limited water so it became a bit of a death march toward the end.

What, what?

I could not bear to check progress on the GPS because I could see where I needed to go. What should have been a highlight, crossing Mile 200, lost some of its appeal because it told me I had another 5+ miles to water.

Looking back and up

I’m told the ascent and descent of San Jacinto ranks in the top 5 toughest days on the whole PCT. I have no way of knowing whether it is true but you will forgive me for believing.

Gnarly tree of San Jacinto

Just as I rounded the last corner, there was Zach aka ‘Pickles’ to greet me. Hailing from Philly, Zach and I have crossed paths several times since Julian. It was good to see a friendly face but even sweeter to guzzle some cold water. Other folks are night hiking across the valley floor to avoid the heat but I am spent. Camping near water is a good thing and means I can go out early tomorrow fully loaded.

6 Replies to “Day 12 – I’m Going Down, Down, Down”

  1. WOW!!!! just WOW!
    With each post you write, I try to wrap my mind around what you are doing . You are mighty indeed! I so wish Kevin were in LA and could meet you when you hit Big Bear. The timing of your pass through Big Bear coincides with his travel to NYC. He had a show tonight in Philly. I love how little things are popping up like that……in Julian on Julian’s bday. Kev in Philly and you with ‘Pickles’ from Philly tonight. IDK, makes me feel good. Keep going, you are amazing me!!


    1. Thanks JoJo, knowing Ken’s schedule I kept my hopes low. I’m so proud of him and his work. On the trail I often think forward to October. Give your girls a furry squeeze from UnJohn 🤠


  2. Great work John! I believe that had to be one difficult descent! So long that it never seems to end. And being low on water makes it that much harder. Get a good nights sleep, and start early to beat the heat tomorrow. Go John! BTW, I am curious what your “nickname” is… Would it be the “Boss” ? 🙂


    1. No trail name accepted as yet but I’ll bet it has something to do with the massive pine cone that beaned me. It makes for a great trail story and both Conehead and LongDrop have been rejected. We shall see…


  3. Hi! I’m really enjoying living vicariously through your PCT stories. My hubby and I have hiked pieces of the trail throughout CA and OR and I’ve read numerous books written by PCT hikers. I’m fascinated by the PCT and loving your daily blogs. Best of luck, enjoy the journey, with you in spirit!


    1. Glad to have you along. Something about the PCT has always captivated me too so I recognize myself in your comment. Enjoy!


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