San Jacinto Peak

June 23-25, 2014
Dyan and I have hiked together many times - I met her on the first
WWWW trip I went on, in Zion NP in 2005.  We soon discovered we hike
at about the same rate, that is slow, as we take lots of pictures!  And we
really enjoy each other's company :)  Which is important during long sandy
slogs (Kolob to Hop Valley, UT), wet ones (Sassafras Mtn, GA), hikes
that require a lot of coordination (Boy Scout Trail, CA), and especially on
our longest trip to date (Isle Royale, MI).  8-days on a remote island
with a person you'll definitely find out if you get along with them or not!  
So when I found out she was coming out to So Cal for a business trip and
wanted to come out early so we could do a trip I was thrilled.  I told her
about San Jacinto, which is a trip that's been on my wish list for many
years.  Naturalist John Muir wrote of San Jacinto Peak, "The view from
San Jacinto is the most sublime spectacle to be found anywhere on this
earth!" so I knew it would be a good trip.  Dyan agreed and so we picked
her up from the airport last Saturday, did a dayhike on Sunday to start
to acclimate, then Monday headed to the Palm Springs Tram.

There are several ways you can climb San Jacinto, 10,834' - from one of
the hardest trails in the US, Cactus to Clouds, to the easiest, by taking
the Tram to Long Valley and then hiking from there.  We chose the
easiest.  It's still not easy - 6 miles and 2,500' to the summit from the
tram.  But we broke it up, base camping in Round Valley, to make it a
leisurely trip.  The water is still flowing in Round Valley - barely.  
Following 2 years of drought that water will probably very soon dry out.
Monday we packed up, took the kid to Grandma's house, then made our
way to the tram.  It was 90* at the station :p but of course soon cools off
as you make your way up almost 6,000' in 10 minutes.  At the top it was
about 65*.  I've been on the tram many times, but never get tired of the
ride or the views!

Once up at the Mountain Station we filled up our water and then headed
down to Long Valley.  This descent is steep, and of course would be a fun
ascent on the way home.  In Long Valley there is a ranger station and so
we checked in and then continued hiking up the main trail.  We admired
the many cool boulders, huge and good-smelling Jeffrey Pines, and a pool
of water where a Stellar's Jay and other birds were taking a bath.  We
stopped for lunch on a huge boulder and then made it to the very green
Round Valley shortly afterwards.

We picked a campsite not too far from the water, a very slow flowing
pipe just above the meadow, and had a relaxing afternoon.  That evening
while filtering water a group of 3 hikers came by and had that look in
their eye - yep, they were out of water, so I filtered a couple of liters
for them.  They had only take one 1/2 liter bottle each for their 12 mile
round-trip-hike :p  Then a group of boy scouts came by who were also
out, so I filtered more liters for them.  I joked and said I should've
charged $5/liter.

In the morning we ate breakfast then grabbed our day packs and headed
up the trail to Wellman Divide.  I decided to rename it Wellwoman Divide
for the day, since all morning we'd had the trail to ourselves.  We didn't
run into anyone else until the last switchback before the peak.  Any
hikers, that is - there were plenty of squirrels, chipmunks, lizards, and
birds to keep us company.  Once we were at the peak that's when a bunch
of day-hikers showed up.  After exploring the summit shelter built by
the CCC in 1933, we started climbing up the last bit of summit which is all
boulders.  Dyan didn't think she could do it, so she went back and found a
bit of shade to sit in.  I continued the scramble to the top, and didn't find
it to be too hard.  So after admiring the view for a little while, I went
back down to get Dyan.  I convinced her she could do it, so up we went.  
After taking a few photos, we headed back down to some shade and ate
some lunch.  Then we headed down the mountain back to Round Valley.

That afternoon we filtered some water, this time without any extra for
ill-prepared hikers.  We also decorated a small Lodgepole pine with the
Eno Twilights my husband had gotten me for my birthday - just because.  
The second night the temperatures were warmer and a breeze blew
through the trees all night, which Dyan said helped her sleep.

On Wednesday we had the trail out completely to ourselves until we got
back to Long Valley.  We decided to hike the other side of the "Round
Valley Loop Trail" and thus were treated to slightly different views.  
Near the Willow Creek Trail we entered the northernmost extension of
the Mountain Fire burn area - this was a large fire that I worked on as a
PIO last summer that burned into the southern part of the wilderness.  
We also saw where a trail crew had taken their power equipment off trail
several times, creating numerous side trails and even trampling some
vegetation :(  I guess State Wilderness isn't up to the same standards
as Federal.

Before we knew it we were back in Long Valley and we stopped to talk to
the ranger who I'd been conversing with via email about mountain
conditions for the past several weeks.  We had a snack then continued up
the steep trail to the tram station where we walked around the small
museum then hopped on the first ride down.  Both times we came through
the State Park Store was closed, much to our disappointment.  Budget
woes is my guess.

Once down we headed to In & Out Burger then to the KOA in Banning
where we took showers and waited for Dyan's friend to pick her up.  
They were off to the beach then to work - because you can't have all play!

In all it was a very enjoyable trip.  Hope you enjoy the photos!
Round Valley Ranger Station
Summit Shelter
More photos here!

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