Day 16 – A generous Idyllwidian named Dave gave us a lift to Black Mountain Road (which was closed for the winter) and we slowly climbed 8 miles in the fresh snow. We were upset to miss a chunk of trail around San Jacinto peak but from the reports we’d heard from others, it didn’t seem worth risking the climb without ice axes. After a while our miserably cold & wet feet began to warm and we left the annoying buzz of machines & downed tree obstacle course from maintenance workers.
We were in a fairytale land of majestic sugar pines dusted liberally in snow. The only footprints in sight were that of fox, rabbit, raccoon, deer and what we’re certain was a gnome. Or maybe one of Snow White’s dwarfs who’d been working out. Around 8,000 feet the clouds we had been walking through began to race by, revealing blue sky and peeks of the steep north face of San Jacinto.
Finally we arrived at the top of Black Mountain, only to descend… this time down the endless switchbacks of the PCT. In astonishingly little time we left behind the snow and entered the now-familiar dry chaparral surroundings of the Santa Rosa Mountains. The change from cold to warm, wet to dry, pine forest to dessert happened so quickly, in fact, we forgot that it would be another 15 miles to the nearest water source. And after 8 streneous miles uphill in deep snow, plus half a dozen more, we weren’t going to be doing that today!