May 13, Day 9
18.4 miles [145.4]
Today sucked. Why does life seem so much harder for me than everyone else? Stupid. We woke up in the clouds at Mike's, everything was soaking wet—in the desert. I hastily tried packing the tent only to end up arguing with Adam about something minor and borderline meaningless. Didn't manage my calories well at all and me knees bothered me the whole day. The cloud cover didn't even last long. By 9:30 a.m. I was sweltering once again. Adam made a call home in the afternoon, and somehow, I ended up talking with Mom. Exhausted and dripping, I was curt and rude. Fuck. I hate the phone. I'm so tired of being a goddamn weather-vane of emotions.
May 14, Day 10
6.4 miles [151.8]
Today we hiked with a group we had been seeing on and off the past few days. This morning, Ryan, Mitchy, “Mio”, Erin, Adam and I all woke soaking wet having cowboy-camped at “Mary's Water”, another morning in a cloud. I was legitimately cold last night. Everyone swiftly got moving, I was the last person to fully pack up. Mood was much better today, I was motivated for town and a burger at Paradise Valley Cafe. It was a short hike to Highway 74 where the owners gave us a hitch back to their cafe. I ended up going with biscuits and gravy and a beer. Very contented, very happy. Knee hurt, but a low-mileage day was helpful. Hitched into Idyllwild; I volunteered to sit shotgun and keep the driver company. Purchased a group campsite, laundry and coin-op showers, more beer and snacks, and a full resupply—five full days worth. Dinner was chili with Fritos and real cheese. What a fun group.
May 15, Day 11
12.7 miles [186.6]
Spent the morning trying to sleep in with little success. State campgrounds are never going to be quiet. The gang lazed around in the shade and rested up. I medicated with a few Budweiser's. We left Idyllwild in the afternoon and took the Deer Springs trail towards Mount San Jacinto—our goal was sunset on the peak. I now understand this means I skipped 31.7 miles of trail. I knew it had been closed due to fire, but I didn't realize our group didn't plan on going back for the alternate. Note: this doesn't feel great. I should take great caution if I feel the need to do this again. Found myself missing PCT-grade trails and was generally pissed most everyone is faster than me. However, the summit views were intense. Gorgeous, rich hues filled the hazy valley; Palm Springs glowed like a dull ember. We made a hasty camp and cooked Knorr garlic shells by headlamp. “Mio” wants to leave by 3:45 a.m. Ugh.
May 16, Day 12
25.1 miles [211.7]
My alarm rudely went off at 3:30 a.m. I quickly found myself towards the back of the pack during the long, grueling slog down Jacinto. As painful as it was, “Mio” was right—we needed all the time we could get. More than nine hours of descent, my legs are dead. Yesterday we added Darby, to our hiking group. While we waited, rested, and snacked at the water faucet, she taught us “hinky-pinky”, a rhyming word-game. Lots of laughs. Regrouped, we made tracks for Interstate 10. Four miles through sand into a forceful headwind made for rough hiking. We crossed under the overpass and found trail magic! We met Ken, a hopeful hiker for 2019, who offered to drive us anywhere we wanted. Everyone nodded in unison at the idea of In-N-Out in Cabazon. After snarfing down a couple double-doubles, we piled back into the pickup bed and tried to look inconspicuous. I split up an 18-pack of beer; three cans weighs too much. We ended a few miles away from the highway, resulting in my new longest day—25 miles.