Hike Leader: Paul Kemp
Location: San Jacinto Mountains, San Jacinto State Park
Hike Difficulty: Moderate to strenuous, 8/10 (not for beginners)
Distance: 10 1/2 miles round trip
Elevation Gain: 2400 feet
Time: 8 hours
THERE IS A LIMIT ON NUMBERS FOR THIS HIKE SO IF YOU RSVP 'YES' AND THEN CHANGE YOUR MIND, AS A COURTESY TO THOSE ON THE WAITING LIST, PLEASE UPDATE YOUR RSVP ASAP.
INTRODUCTION: San Jacinto Peak, also known as Mount San Jacinto, at 10,834 feet elevation is the highest peak of the San Jacinto Mountains, and lies within Mount San Jacinto State Park. From the peak, San Gorgonio Mountain can be seen across the San Gorgonio Pass. Also easily visible below is the Coachella Valley and the Salton Sea. In addition, much of the Inland Empire, including Ontario to the west, can be viewed on a clear day. 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!"
San Jacinto Peak is one of the "Three Saints," a name occasionally used to describe the high points of the three tallest mountain ranges in Southern California: San Jacinto Peak, Mount San Gorgonio (high point of the San Bernardino Mountains), and Mount San Antonio (high point of the San Gabriel Mountains). I plan to hike all three again this spring/summer so this will be 1/3 in the series. Hope you can join me!
HIKE DESCRIPTION: This moderate all day outing is as good as it gets. The trip starts out by taking the Palm Springs Aerial Tramway almost a mile straight up into the San Jacinto wilderness. The first 2 miles of trail traverses a lovely pine forest, passing through Round Valley. The trail then begins a 1 mile ascent to Wellman Divide, a great spot for lunch with breathtaking views. At this point the trail heads north towards the peak. The forest is somewhat open with the ground covered in lush vegetation, and ever more stunning views of the desert below. Near the summit we will encounter a small stone cabin, and after a easy rock scramble up a 100 yards or so, we will be at the peak.
DIRECTIONS: From Interstate 10, take the Palm Springs exit (hwy 111) and drive 9 miles to Tramway road. Turn right and follow the road 3 1/2 miles to its end at the Tramway parking lot. The meeting time is 8.30 at the Tramway parking lot for those wishing to meet there; I will be arranging a car pool venue probably somewhere in the San Gabriel Valley closer to the time.
This is a fairly strenuous hike definately NOT for beginners - the high altitude may cause problems for some - therefore you should have some recent conditioning by the time of the hike. Make sure that you bring plenty of water (3 liters minimum) and copious amounts of sweet, calorie-rich snacks to munch along the way.
UPDATE: March 12
It looks as though the weather at San Jacinto Peak will be deteriorating somewhat as next week proceeds. The National Weather Forecast for San Jacinto Peak next Saturday is predicting "a slight chance of snow showers" on Saturday, as well as Friday night, partly sunny with a high of 31 degrees. The high for the start of the hike at the Upper Terminal of the tramway will be around 10 degrees higher due to the lower elevation. You can check the NWS website yourselves by following this link:
An additional, more detailed weather forecast is available thru this link:
I am still willing to do this hike, although there is a strong possibility that we would not be able to reach the summit - I spoke to a park ranger today, there is 5 feet of snow at the summit. The trail is not maintained so it will probably be hard to follow at some point due to snow and ice. How far we are likely to get is impossible to tell at this point. Snow shoes are highly recommended, and if you don't have your own pair there is a place to rent them near the car park at the bottom (the Winter Adventure Center). Cost is $18 for the day but they have to be returned by 4 pm. You could always try your local REI or Sport Chalet for better rates and return times. If you are serious about reaching the summit, which will take a lot longer than my original estimate of 6 hours (closer to 10 probably), then crampons are essential, and an ice pick thrown in for good measure. As far as I can see, these are NOT available for rental at the Winter Adventure Center, so bring your own. And don't forget those hiking poles, 2 of them if you have them!
Those of you who are serious about going a long way on this hike, or, if you are slightly insane (like me), going to the summit, let me know asap. If you still want to go, but not hike a considerable distance, we can split off into groups as necessary. It would be better to know before we leave the carpool point so that the rides can be arranged accordingly.
THIS IS A TOUGH HIKE EVEN WHEN THERE IS NO SNOW. HIKING IN THE SNOW WILL BE DIFFICULT SO PLEASE BE HONEST WITH YOURSELF ABOUT YOUR OWN LIMITATIONS. THIS HIKE IS DEFINITELY NOT FOR BEGINNERS, AND PARTICIPANTS SHOULD HAVE AT LEAST SOME RECENT CONDITIONING. IF THE WEATHER FORECAST DETERIORATES SIGNIFICANTLY BETWEEN NOW AND SATURDAY, IF SNOWSTORMS AND/OR HIGH WINDS ARE LIKELY, THEN THE HIKE MAY BE CANCELED.
It's going to be COLD, although you soon warm up when you start hiking. When you stop moving is when you really need something warm to put on. Dress in several layers, so that they can be removed or added as needed. For warmth, fleece is great, as are those polyester-mixes, wool is good, cotton (including jeans) is crap because if it gets wet it tends to stay wet and its not particularly warm. Wool socks are good, and wear waterproof boots if possible. Flip-flops are not recommended (ha ha). A lighter, waterproof jacket is good if you are wearing warmer clothes underneath, and more preferable than a heavy-duty ski jacket. Waterproof hiking pants are also a good idea.
For those people who wish to carpool I have chosen the Park and Ride location at 1810 Gillette Road, Pomona. Exit 10 freeway at Fairplex Drive (just after the 57 freeway), at the top of the ramp make a left back over the freeway and then take the first right at Gillette. The Park and Ride is down on the right. The meeting time is 7 am. If not meeting here then meet at the Tramway parking lot at 8.30. The cost of the tram ticket is $23.25.
Weather permitting, see you on Saturday morning. If you have any questions please do not hesitate to contact me.
UPDATE: March 16
The weather forecast for Saturday has improved a little bit. Although the forecast is showing a 30% chance of snow, the heaviest snowfall has been pushed back to Sunday night. It's going to be COLD with a high temperature of around 30 degrees that will be colder still with the wind chill factor.
There are at least 2 people (myself included) who will endeavor to reach the peak, and anyone else is welcome. However, it is important that you have the right equipment if you wish to do this. Snow shoes will probably be necessary but crampons (or some kind of spikes to attach to your boots) are essential. Snow shoes and crampons are available at some of the REI locations - today I rented a pair of crampons from the Arcadia store and there was one pair left for rental when I left this afternoon. They also rent snow shoes. If you rent snow shoes at the Winter Adventure Center near the tramway parking lot they will have to be returned by 4 pm, and it is highly unlikely that we will be finished hiking by then if we go for the summit. You don't have to go all the way if you don't want to, we can arrange for smaller groups to split off if we have to.
Bring plenty of food - anything rich in calories, and that includes the famous Snicker's Bar, candy, trail mix, power bars etc. - and water.
At this time, the hike is on, but if the weather changes for the worse again in the next 2 days I may cancel.