My SJ hike plans too ambitious? And the snow conditions?

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My SJ hike plans too ambitious? And the snow conditions?

Postby pietro257 » Sun May 08, 2016 3:07 pm

I grew up in Idyllwild and used to hike all over the San Jacinto mountains in the 1970s. I'm going for a backpacking adventure there starting Thursday, May 12. It will be my first time in the San Jacintos since 1976 (40 years!) and I'm very excited.

We're experienced backpackers but getting old. We plan to take the tramway to Long Valley and proceed from there. I want to visit all my favorite haunts.

My questions:

1. Is this plan too ambitious? Thurs: Go to Round Valley the first day (only 2 miles) and acclimate. Friday: Go without packs to San Jacinto Peak, then return to Round Valley, get the packs, go to Hidden Lake, to Laws Camp, and then to Carramba. Saturday: Go back to Laws Camp, to Tahquitz Meadow, to Tahquitz Peak, to Saddle Junction, and to Humber Park (where some friends will pick us up and we'll spend the night in an Idyllwild motel). The Friday schedule might be too much. I'm thinking it's about 12 miles in all (although most of them will be downhill). And if we run into snow it will be slow going.

2. How much snow is on San Jacinto Peak and Tahquitz Peak? I know it snowed there this weekend.

I have recurring dreams of being in Carramba, a mystical place. I'm curious to see how the real location compares to my dreams after all these years.
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Re: My SJ hike plans too ambitious? And the snow conditions?

Postby Hikin_Jim » Sun May 08, 2016 5:20 pm

Well, before you do a lot of planning, Hidden Lake, Laws Camp, Carramba, and Tahquitz Meadow are all closed due to the Mountain Fire of 2013. And, yeah, that really sucks. :(

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Re: My SJ hike plans too ambitious? And the snow conditions?

Postby pietro257 » Mon May 09, 2016 8:19 am

Wow! I didn't know that. Can you camp in Skunk Cabbage Meadow?
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Re: My SJ hike plans too ambitious? And the snow conditions?

Postby pietro257 » Mon May 09, 2016 11:05 am

I just spoke to a ranger. There is no camping at Skunk Cabbage Meadow, but eh did say yoiu camp in the area east of Saddle Junciton. I wonder if there is any water there.
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Re: My SJ hike plans too ambitious? And the snow conditions?

Postby Hikin_Jim » Mon May 09, 2016 9:52 pm

East of Saddle Junction? Yeah, there's thin margin between the saddle and the edge of the closure zone. There's water at Tahquitz Creek typically.

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Re: My SJ hike plans too ambitious? And the snow conditions?

Postby pkirkham » Tue May 10, 2016 8:27 am

No water flowing at Tahquitz meadow....just went by there last week to check!
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Re: My SJ hike plans too ambitious? And the snow conditions?

Postby pietro257 » Tue May 10, 2016 11:09 am

No water in Tahquitz Meadow in May? I'm thinking of camping in Little Tahquitz Valley. I have to think the creek is flowing there this early in the year.
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Re: My SJ hike plans too ambitious? And the snow conditions?

Postby Hikin_Jim » Tue May 10, 2016 3:29 pm

I think the eastern half of LIttle Tahquitz Valley is closed. In fact the creek might just be the boundary of the closure -- but I'm not sure, so check with the rangers.

If reliable water is what you want, Bed Springs, which is between Deer Springs and Little Round Valley, is pretty much the most reliable source in the San Jacinto high country. You could camp at Little Round Valley. It's an option anyway.

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Re: My SJ hike plans too ambitious? And the snow conditions?

Postby pietro257 » Tue May 10, 2016 4:13 pm

I never much cared for the Deer Springs and Little Round Valley side of the mountain.

The birder at this forum (his report is dated September 1, 2015) says the area isn't so bad:

We're glad to report that the effect of the fire in Tahquitz Valley was pretty light. Tahquitz and Little Tahquitz meadows were not touched at all. Skunk Cabbage Meadow was burned just patchily and generally lightly along its north and east sides. Joseph Grinnell photographed Skunk Cabbage Meadow in 1908, then Lori rephotographed the same view in 2010 and again on Sunday. The only obvious change from 2010 to 2015 is that a massive tree visible in both the 1908 and 2010 photographs was almost vaporized, with tunnels into the blackened earth where its roots used to be. East of Skunk Cabbage Meadow and at Reed's Meadow the fire was extensive but many trees were burned only at their bases, the crowns surviving. Many tiny conifer seedlings were sprouting. The ferns, sedges, and grasses in the meadows were growing luxuriantly: plants that regrow annually from underground parts had recovered with no evident ill effects. In Reed's Meadow I could see waist-high tussocks of sedge growing from burned pedestals. Other parts of the San Jacinto Mountains such as chaparral-covered slopes overlooking Garner Valley were burned more severely, but by the standards of the all-consuming Cedar Fire in San Diego County in 2003, the Mountain Fire of the San Jacintos was not a severe fire in any area of coniferous forest we could see from Tahquitz Valley.

http://www.calbirds.com/?board=inlandco ... &msg=14435
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Re: My SJ hike plans too ambitious? And the snow conditions?

Postby Hikin_Jim » Thu May 12, 2016 1:06 pm

Well, that west side isn't so bad -- and there's very reliable water. There's a lot of neat stuff like the little peaks (Ellen, Joyce, and Drury) on the western edge of the summit plateau. However, the greater Tahquitz drainage is pretty neat too.

Glad to hear the fire damage isn't so bad. From what I hear, the Lake Fire, also in the San Bernardino Nat'l Forest but near Barton Flats, was much worse.

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