Day 12: Thursday, May 16

Tenting at a campsite near Saddle Junction (179.5), a 13.0 mile day.

Started crunching the numbers this morning and realized that if I'm going to meet Kristin on Sunday at mile 210 (the only other accessible point would have been mile 265, which is too far for Sunday morning), I would have to go slooww for the next three days. Luckily it's easy to dawdle up here. Can't say how much time I spent today taking unplanned breaks, sitting on rocks in the sun and just looking around, but it was a lot. These mountains look like the Sierra Lite, nothing like the lower desert of the first 150 miles. They smell different too--all high and dry and piney, just like the Cascades in Oregon in the summer. It's one of my favorite smells.

Trail was super hard and steep this morning, but it didn't really matter because I'd already decided I could take as many breaks as I wanted. Met another thru-hiker named Skip, cool dude, he and I talked for a long time as we walked. Alex went on ahead of me to get to Saddle Junction and hike down into Idyllwild for another night. I dillied and dallied and made it to Tahquitz Creek, a pure-snowmelt affair and the first on-trail flowing water since forever, by about 3pm. Made it to this camp spot about 4:45. It's at about 8100 feet. Gonna tackle Mt. San Jacinto in the first 5 miles tomorrow. Would so much rather be killing my time up here than hiking full-pace through this, getting down to the valley by Saturday morning and then waiting 24 hours at the trail angels' house for Kristin.