Hiking, backpacking, and camping throughout Southern California and beyond

Retro Post - Mount San Jacinto - 2007 - A Wake Up Call

San Jacinto Peak sign Well, this trip was definitely my idea. I had somehow convinced myself that since I had completed a 100 mile bike ride the previous weekend, I would be in great shape for a somewhat decent elevation climb between 7000 to 10,800 feet. Boy was I wrong on that one. I was also wrong about thinking that wearing my new boots around the house for three days would somehow break them in enough so that they wouldn’t hobble me during the hike. Uhm, yeah. It wasn’t until about mile 4 on the hike that I realized that I rarely wear shoes any more. I almost exclusively wear sandals wherever I go. So, given that my heels weren’t used to having anything rub them at all, I ended up with a blister and then a broken blister with raw skin underneath in no time at all. One’s foot is at a drastically different angle while hiking up a sloped trail than up a flight of stairs.

In addition, one’s legs use drastically different muscles while hiking than they do biking.

These facts aside, we had a great time ascending and then descending Mt. San Jacinto. I had done this hike when I was 11, while training for my Mt. Whitney hike at age 12 and I wanted to go back.

It started on a beautiful morning. The weather was sunny, but cool; perfect weather for hiking. After finding the trail head and getting an adventure pass we shouldered our packs and started hiking up the trail. It wasn’t long before I could feel shortness of breath due to the altitude. We hiked on. Throughout the evergreen forest, there were sprinklings of yellow deciduous trees and glimpses of the valley below.

We occasionally met some fellow hikers, but altogether we had the trail to ourselves for most of the time. At the time when we thought we had passed the trail crossing and were about to reach our campsite, we finally came to the crossing. It felt like a very long 2.7 miles. Just after the crossing, we decided to have some lunch and feast on our power bars and snack mixes.

The start of the trail

Yellow among the pines

It took a long time to get here. It reads 1.5 miles to our campsite.

McRonald and Hyphen

PD on the phone

De Machine (An incredible athlete)

After lunch, we dropped down into a valley. About halfway through, we looked up and realized we had to ascend one more pass before we would reach our campsite. Michel (De Machine), observing my slow pace, generously came down the pass and offered to carry my pack the rest of the way up. Pride getting the best of me, I thanked him and refused to allow anyone to carry my pack for me, knowing my sense of accomplishment would be diminished if it wasn’t my own.

We made camp in a small grove of trees in order to protect us from the wind that we knew was going to start blowing overnight. We starting the water-boiling process in order to heat up the frozen spaghetti and meatballs we brought with us. Under the rising moon and in the falling temperature, the warmth and nourishment from the steaming pasta sure was welcome. We had some cocoa and went to bed around 7:30 PM.

A nice place to stay the night

Warming the spaghetti

The moon also rises

After a decent night’s sleep, the PM (now PD), De Machine, and I decided to hike the final 1.6 miles to San Jacinto Peak and back down again. Switching to my Teva sandals due to my blistered feet, we brought light packs and started the switchback of trails off of the valley floor to the next pass. On top of the pass, we saw a wonderful view to the east, where the sun was rising. We were happy to have made it this far and enjoyed the growing light for a bit before ascending the final .3 miles to the peak. Along the way, we saw the stone cabin for emergency use.

At the peak, we relaxed and enjoyed about 45 minutes to ourselves at the top, having a snack and taking in the vistas and warmth from the rising sun. We spied San Gorgonio peak across the valley to the north. That is another peak I have hiked and want to revisit. We talked about everything under the sun until we finally heard voices coming up the mountain. We decided to get back down to our camp so we could pack up the tents and start our long decent off the mountain.

The downward trail was hard on the knees and unrelenting. Although our descent took us about half the time of our ascent, our legs and feet were simply worn out by the time we got back to the car. It was nice to sit on something with a back rest as we drove to the Goodtimes Pub & Grill in Idyllwild and enjoyed a hot meal of burgers, sweet potato fries, and ice cold sodas.

All in all, we hiked 11.6 miles over two days. I can’t wait to go hiking again, but this time I will pick a flatter trail. San Gorgonio will have to wait for a while.

On the way back we encountered a fire in Aguanga. Exciting stuff.

Waking up to a crisp morning

Starting towards the peak from the campsite

Almost to the peak

The view from just below the peak

Hanging out before the final ascent

The stone cabin

The ancient latch

Survey marker on the peak

View to the southwest

View to the northwest

"It was a pretty easy trail"

Hello from the top

Yes, I made it.

(I always enjoy comments. Even on old posts.)

Sunrise at Del Mar

A Strange Day: The Fires - Witch Creek Fire 2007