The wind had died down around midnight, or shortly after that. A nighttime view of Palm Springs greeted us when nature called, and the warm eastern sun beat on our tents, until we were actually too warm to lay in our bags.
At 7am, we rose slowly and packed our bags. Once all our gear was stowed, we made the steep half mile ascent from Apache Springs back to the PCT. As our seven person collective met back at the trail, we chose to go over Apache Peak, rather than around it. We had heard of the dangers of going around the mountain, and the top was free of snow.
As we passed over the saddle between the two peaks of Apache Peak, we were offered a great view of the trail we would be spending the first half of our day on. In the distance you could see Antsell Rock, Spy Mountain, and Tahquitz Peaks. We had our day cut out for us, skirting around these high points.
As we dipped into the shaded watersheds, the snow piled up. Apricots was given her first opportunity to experience snow on the PCT. The trail cut across snow patches that offered opportunities to slip a hundred feet before crashing into a tree, if you were lucky. Uncle Tom (who looks like David Carradine, and sometimes sounds like Christopher Walken) led the first couple snow crossings, using his boots to help cut steps across the sixty plus degree slopes.
Despite the well cut steps by several hiking mates, the crossing of these slopes was frightening at best. I believe that snow chutes and rattlesnakes are natures energy bar. If you see either, you become so amped with adrenaline, you no longer feel the need to eat.
The day consisted of bouncing over and back the ridge, slowly working our way towards Red Tahquitz, one of several prominent peaks of the San Jacinto's. The top is a rich red granite, setting it apart from the typical grey granite of its close by neighbor Tahquitz Peak. Native legend tells of a feared chief that was caught killing off the women of the tribe. Banished to the hills, he still took the lives of his old tribe. An epic battle between Algoot and Tahquitz resolved nothing, and his spirit is still said to be at a state of unrest in the mountains.
Pictured below is a view of Red Tahquitz from where we enjoyed lunch. As we rounded Red Tahquitz, the trail disappeared under three feet of snow. Fortunately the terrain had somewhat leveled out, so we were able to walk free of terror. At times we even slid down small slopes of snow as if we were on skis.
As we navigated the three to four miles to Saddle Junction, Apricots was treated to a surprise visit from a red insect amid a field of white. The ladybug landed on her and rested a moment before carrying on her way. Our pace slowed over the snow, and we were all starving, as the snow crossing can be very draining on the body.
After an arduous day, we finally reached the Devils Slide Trail, and hiked the 2.5 miles down to the trail head. Once down, we road walked part of the way into Idyllwild, until a friendly driver responded to our thumbs. Before dropping gear and showering, we were in a mexican restaurant plowing through chips and salsa, on our way to flautas, tostadas, burritos, and other culinary delights.
The servings were large, and we were impressed as The Mayor helped polish off four over-sized plates. Known for his voracious appetite, The Mayor has been known to eat small children that get in the way of his fierce consumption.
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