Mile 183, Strawberry Junction Campsite to Mile 206 Desert Water Conservancy at Base of Mt. San Jacinto
Longest day yet - 23 miles! Overall, a MUCH better day than yesterday! However, we woke up this morning to a snowstorm - the tent was under a few inches of snow, and it was coming down. Miraculously, I managed to stay warm enough while getting ready to head out into the elements, but I wasn't happy to be leaving! Out into the snow we marched forward. The first 5 miles of the day seemed to do nothing but climb up to hike straight back down, and at times the snow was deep enough to make the trail difficult to follow. To make matters worse, the trail was pretty icy in parts, and nobody else had crossed through the trail yet, so it made the progress slower than hoped. It was hard to believe that just a week before, I was overheating not too far from where I was now trekking through snow. After warming up a little, I was able to look around me and appreciate how beautiful the whiteout was - although it was still snowy and grey, it was quite pretty.
Finally the trail descended below the snow level and the sky cleared for some nice vistas overlooking the trail ahead - down to the desert floor in Cabazon. We got moving pretty quickly and covered good ground for a few hours, and then sat down for lunch - and it promptly started raining on us. Good motivation for a quick lunch and moving on! The main descent off the mountain started around mile 194ish and continued to mile 205 - 11 miles that dragged on forever! The grade was so slight that it felt like the trail hardly even descended - it just switched back and forth over and over again. I felt like I was in a madhouse at one point, because we'd switched back across the entire mountain, and then wound up on the next one down, and I looked up and saw trail we'd been on 20 minutes before just a few FEET above where we were. I started to think we were just walking in circles! We have a theory that whoever blazed the initial trail must have been paid by the mile - it was the most inefficient trail ever! So glad to be off that mountain, and now going to sleep on the desert floor. Just another crazy day on the PCT!