MOUNT SAN JACINTO

Eager to get back on the trail after my JMT adventure, I took my trail legs to the top of San Jacinto, one of the tallest mountains in the SoCal area reaching 10,834 ft. Located in Riverside County, the drive from Los Angeles isn't too long if you leave early enough. There are also multiple options to reach the peak, by way of the Palm Springs Aerial Tramway or the Marion Mountain Trail. The expanse between the top of San Jacinto and the trailhead is about 11.5 miles, involving a steep ascent from the get go. I found parking at the trailhead and displayed my adventure pass before I took off.

I spent most of the hike daydreaming of the John Muir Trail and reacquainting myself with the trail; oh, how close it's come to feel like home. I hardly passed any hikers, making my day stark with with solitude and quiet surroundings. The early September air was warm and bright, leading me to countlesss meadows and open areas with lush greenery and lingering wildflowers of summer. 

A few miles from the top, I passed a few signs pointing towards the Pacific Crest Trail, which brought jolts of excitement through my body. The idea of thru-hiking will never be the same after the journey I had recently taken and seeing it so close to me brought me back to that magical world. Continuing along and pulling myself out of my dreamlike state, I passed a number of campsites with mouthwatering views of the desert below. Curious of potential water sources for these campgrounds, I surprisingly passed a small spring not long after.

Nearing the top stood a small hut, which I peeked into. Immediately I felt relief from the strong winds and admired the emergency supplies left for any hiker in need of them. Eager to reach the top, I continued toward the summit where I sat and enjoyed leftovers from my recent August thru-hike. 

On this hike, I felt the full effect of my trail legs. It was second nature to have my muscular calves climb to the top of a mountain. It felt like I was on a cloud. It felt like I was home. Post Trail Depression is real, but at least I can spend a day visiting that place whenever I want thanks to the surrounding SoCal mountains.