Pacific Crest Trail (2019) 20: Desert Divide

Wednesday, April 03, 2019 – 9.30 miles

The temperature dipped below freezing overnight. Branches rained moisture from low-hanging clouds onto my tent, and showers of ice were falling from the larger trees in the morning.

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I had to make the side trip to Cedar Spring, which is a mile off-trail with 400 feet of elevation loss. At least I could slackpack it, and the cedars were aromatic and pretty. I met a couple there who didn’t know about the snow prior to Idyllwild and were consequentially carrying no snow gear. I hope they’ll be okay – current conditions are a supposedly dodgy section on Apache Peak and miles of snowbound trail approaching Saddle Junction, which is where most hikers leave the trail to access Idyllwild via the Devil’s Slide Trail.

The panoramic views near the end of the day were incredible.

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I encountered the first on-trail snow on Spitler Peak.

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Just beyond Spitler Peak, I met a trio of PCT hikers who had made camp: a solo thru-hiker named Tamara, a section hiker named Steve and Steve’s adult son, Aaron. They told me that the section just ahead, Apache Peak, was too dangerous to attempt in slushy afternoon snow alone. I had no trouble believing that and pitched my tent. Based on info that Tamara received from a friend, it sounds like the snow before Idyllwild might be worse than I thought. I may turn around, but I’ll see what conditions are like in the morning.

Our campsite has stellar views and the lights of Palm Springs flickered to life in the twilight.

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