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MT. SAN JACINTO
Mt. San Jacinto State Park/Wilderness Area, CA
Devil's Slide Trail
16.0 miles roundtrip, elevation gain/loss ~4400' (complete)
Approximate elevations (start-peak) 6400-10804'
Hiked June 7, 1998 - Duration ~10 hrs.

TOPO MAPS   PHOTOS   BOOKS   LINKS   ELEVATION PROFILE

small_tahquitz.jpg (7739 bytes)Well it's been a HUGE snow year in Southern California, all thanks to El Niņo. This was my fourth trip up San Jacinto, and I'd previously hiked it in early June, and even late May without ever seeing a speck of snow. Not this time. I'd just gotten some gaiters, and this was my chance to use them. I brought along a digital camera to take some photos with (worked great as you can see).

topo of the hike, click for closeupWe started off around 8:45am, with bright sunny skies above (it was grey and dreary in the cities below, we drove above it all at around 5000') and it looked like it was going to be a typical trip. We quickly made our way up the first set of switchbacks to reach the Saddle Junction, (about 2.5 miles) with beautiful views of Tahquitz Peak (shown above) all the way. The snow coverage began there, and it was extensive. After a short rest, we set off. The trail soon disappeared underneath the snow, and it was a process of determining which boot tracks to follow. There were tracks all over, but we chose the high road, and it wasn't too bad. We ended slightly above the most established trail, which we joined and continued ascending. The condition of the snow was pretty stiff, and we were only sinking in a few inches, but the major impediment was the lay of the snow itself. The snow had accumulated in large toungues, which required numerous small climbs and drops. Some were steep enough to require us to kick steps, and our progress slowed. After about three hours of hiking beyond the saddle, we came upon the Wellman Divide (about 5.5 miles). At that point both Ben and I were fairly beat, we rested and had a snack before continuing. Beyond the divide, the trail requires a lot of traversing, which is pretty easy on a normal day, but not on this one. We began stopping more often for rests, and eventually, after a seemingly endless traverse around Jean Peak, we took an extended break and ate lunch. There we came upon some other hikers coming down from the summit. They said it was about another mile, which in our state was probably going to take about 2 hours roundtrip from our location. It was 2:30pm already, and we wanted to get back down soon, so we decided to turn around at that point. I'm glad we turned around because just as we were about to leave, I had to throw up. It was the first time I'd been above 10,000' in almost a year and altitude sickness has always been a problem for me. The exhaustion of the previous 6 hours of hiking had wore me down and I had to get down to feel any better.
     The hike down went almost as slowly as the hike up, due to the constant short, steep climbs and drops over the snow. Eventually, with many short breaks, we got back down to the saddle around 5:30pm, and finally back to the car just before 7. It was a very long day and we were exhuasted. I came out of it with a few blisters and a new appreciation for snow travel. This will come in handy later this summer when I climb Mt. Shasta, which I'm still looking forward to.

PHOTOS
Hiking photos (10 total)

RECOMMENDED BOOKS
California Hiking - the best reference for all the hikes I've taken, covers all of California.

RELATED LINKS
Hiking in Idyllwild - general info on the area
Palm Springs Tramway - number to the ranger station

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APPROXIMATE ELEVATION PROFILE OF THE HIKE

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