5/21 "Tour of San Jacinto" Trip Report + Photos

General Palm Springs area.

5/21 "Tour of San Jacinto" Trip Report + Photos

Postby mattytreks » Mon May 23, 2016 4:59 pm

Today was an absolutely glorious day in San Diego. Blue skies with puffy clouds, a light breeze, and comfortable temperatures.

...but you didn't come here for a weather report about America's Finest City, now did you!!! However nice today may have been down here, it surely cannot compare to the perfection that was Saturday at San Jacinto. The conditions were in stark contrast to my trip up Baldy (via Old Baldy Trail) two weeks ago.

Our day began around 4:45 as we (my fiancee and I) departed from San Diego, arriving at Deer Springs Trailhead around 7. Prior to leaving I had heard of the cooler temperatures this weekend. I smartly packed some smartwool layers that came in handy almost immediately -- the moment we exited the car, we felt the frigid cold. To my surprise, the car's outside temperature gauge read 35 degrees! I never thought it would have been that cold. We hit the trail around 7:30, ascending the modest slopes Deer Springs Trail had to offer, and both of us warmed up rather quickly.

As someone who yearns for the steepest trails possible, gently meandering up Deer Springs was incredibly refreshing and pleasant. Flowers the color of purple, blue, orange, yellow, and red were all in full bloom. The last time I'd gone up this trail was 12 years ago, but stopped shortly after the Suicide Rock Trail turnoff due to heavy snow. This time around, there was no snow and we made our way past the Suicide Rock turnoff and headed for Strawberry Junction.

Knowing we were going to make a loop out of this hike, my goal was to ascend the steeper approach to the summit while descending the less steep route back down. That in mind, once we arrived at Strawberry Junction, we headed due north (left) on Deer Springs Trail, passing up the junctions with Marion Mountain/Seven Pines Trails and later on, Fuller Ridge Trail. Along the way up there were patches of wind but overall it was blue skies, calm wind, and the feeling of floating on clouds as we looked out into the distance and saw the dense cloud cover at lower elevations.

Not long after passing Deer Springs Creek crossing, we came upon a very interesting man, Asian (possibly Japanese) and in his 50's. He was jovial and even though we were headed towards the peak, he made sure to let us know the peak was the way we were going. After stopping and chatting with him, come to find out he was a PCT thru-hiker. All the way from Mexico. And on the way to CANADA! My mind was blown at that point. After all my years hiking various segments of the PCT and I finally came face-to-face with a person on-trail that was actually in the midst of a full Mexico-to-Canada PCT hike. The only thing I regret doing was not asking to take a picture with him. We then continued up the trail setting our sights for Little Round Valley, when the faint sound of running water became louder and louder. As we finally arrived at its junction with the trail, we took in the beautiful sights and sounds. I'd never expected to run into such a large stream and waterfall on a SanJ trail. Am guessing this was Upper Bed Springs Crossing but will need your help confirming.

After cresting at Little Round Valley, we made the leisurely stroll until the final set of switchbacks took us up to the saddle between San Jacinto and Jean. After seeing the throng of "trammer's" at this point, we immediately yearned for solitude. Somewhere. Anywhere…and it would come in due time. Meanwhile, we headed up boulder-strewn ridge and took in some amazing views from San Jacinto summit. Every time I come up here I always wonder what it would be like on the summit during a blizzard or some other extreme winter condition. Probably hell! Survivable? And I mean survivable on the very tippy top? It's fun to imagine it, but probably far from that to actually endure it.

Having headed up the west side, it was time to descend the east side. The increase in traffic was expected and tolerable, to a degree. It's always fascinating looking out in the distance and seeing the upper tram station juxtaposed with the grid of streets that is Palm Springs. Making great time heading downhill, we broke away from the crowds (sort of) at Wellman Divide and began our descent down the Wellman Cienega Trail. I always loved this section of trail due to the three or four areas of "weeping walls" within the Wellman Cienega. I don't know why, but the place reminds me of The Shire from Lord of the Rings.

For the first time in years, I broke new ground in SanJ. Up until this weekend, I'd only ever taken the Wellman Cienega Trail en-route from Humber Park (via Devils Slide). But Saturday as we were descending that very trail, we went west on PCT towards Strawberry Junction, instead of south on PCT toward Saddle Junction. Clearly San Jacinto was saving the best for last. That solitude we were searching for up near the summit was about to come into reality. We didn't know it at the time, but the last people we saw on the mountain were at the junction of PCT and Wellman Cienega Trail. The final 6.5 miles were hiked in complete isolation from all of other visitors of San Jacinto State Park.

After leaving the PCT/Wellman Cienega junction behind, we made our way on PCT, immediately making a small ascent up and over a little saddle between what I believe to be Cienega Peak(?) and one of the ridges of Marion Mountain. Almost immediately after descending down the other side of this saddle, a vast and beautiful vista opened up before my very eyes. Gazing out in the distance was Idyllwild nestled tightly in between Tahquitz Peak and Lily Rock to the left, and Suicide Rock to the right. Seeing all of this exposed granite within a deep valley, while traversing a mountainside amongst giant pine trees, I could not help but feel as if I'd teleported to Yosemite, specifically the Pohono Trail (my current all-time favorite trail in terms of sheer enjoyment and scenery). For those that have been on Pohono going in the direction from Taft Point to Glacier Point, you will completely understand.

Once we passed Strawberry Junction and made the final descent down Deer Spring Trail, we were both sort of on auto-pilot mode at that point, bolting down the mountain at a brisk pace. We took time to snap more pictures of the beautiful flowers, then at long last, arrived back at the trailhead.

From a day-hikers perspective, I refer to this hike as the "Tour of San Jacinto" because it offers up a fairly comprehensive tour of both the west and east sides of the mountain -- that in under 20 miles. Obviously being a loop hike, there might be a way to plan out a point-to-point hike that would be even more comprehensive.


QUESTIONS
1.) The stream and waterfall I had referred to earlier on Deer Springs Trail just before Little Round Valley...was that indeed Upper Bed Springs? Not sure if this picture helps:
Image

2.) As I was descending PCT toward Strawberry Junction, I came across a sign that said "entering San Jacinto Wilderness". Then as I passed it and looked back the sign going the other way said "entering San Jacinto State Park Wilderness". So, are there two separate wilderness locations within the Santa Jacinto Mountains, just with different designations?

3.) Is there a name for the outcropping of exposed rock that appears on the topo below as a high point? This was on PCT headed towards Strawberry Junction:
Image


ROUTE MAPS & PHOTOS
Overall route and direction of travel
Image01 by mattytreks

This was the absolutely gorgeous section of PCT I was referring to earlier
Image02 by mattytreks

Above the clouds, looking out into the distance from Deer Springs Trail beyond the junction of Fuller Ridge Trail
Image01 by mattytreks

Close-up of icicles on...Upper Bed Springs Crossing?
Image02 by mattytreks

Obligatory summit photo with SanJ sign
Image03 by mattytreks

Looking west/southwest, viewing the cloud cover from the summit
Image04 by mattytreks

Me and SanG
Image05 by mattytreks

Dork in the foreground; Banning Pass down below in the background
Image06 by mattytreks

For the gear junkies out there who are curious, the pack is a Gregory Z30 (Model 2015), Brooks Cascadia shoes, and Dirty Girl gaiters
Image07 by mattytreks

Pano of SanG (top left), Snow Creek (bottom-leftish), Leatherneck Ridge? (center), Upper Tram Station and Palm Springs (far right)
Image08 by mattytreks

Quick photo op on the giant switchback on the Peak Trail
Image09 by mattytreks

My favorite view from the most scenic portion of PCT during this hike. Taken between the junction of Wellman Cienega Trail and Strawberry Junction
Image10 by mattytreks

View up Marion Mountain from PCT
Image11 by mattytreks

Interesting-looking bush/tree. Appears that part of it's trunk is living while other parts are dead
Image12 by mattytreks

Vibrant, beautiful flowers dotted Deer Springs Trail
Image13 by mattytreks

Close-up of purple flower
Image14 by mattytreks

Sunlit ferns near Deer Springs Trailhead
Image15 by mattytreks

That's all for now. Until then, keep enjoying the mountains!!
Last edited by mattytreks on Tue May 24, 2016 2:40 pm, edited 2 times in total.
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Re: 5/21 "Tour of San Jacinto" Trip Report + Photos

Postby 2600fromatari » Mon May 23, 2016 8:10 pm

Love that picture with Tahquitz and Suicide! If you want something a little steeper, take the Ernie Maxwell then cut to the climber's trail up to Tahquitz (Lilly Rock). Right side wraps around the South face, left side wraps around the North face. Follow the gully up, and be careful with rock. You'll also get a great view of climbers all over the rock on many classic and famous climbs. Either will take you to the top where you can scramble along the ridge to the "true" Tahquitz and lookout tower. You must be comfortable going off trail though.
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Re: 5/21 "Tour of San Jacinto" Trip Report + Photos

Postby DKNY2LA » Tue May 24, 2016 12:43 am

Hey Matty - what software are you using to create those awesome maps?
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Re: 5/21 "Tour of San Jacinto" Trip Report + Photos

Postby Ulysses » Tue May 24, 2016 7:42 am

Great trip report. Thanks for posting the pictures. The section of the PCT above Strawberry Cienega is also one of my favorite spots on the mountain. It does remind one of the Sierra.

"Is there a name for the outcropping of exposed rock that appears on the topo below as a high point? This was on PCT headed towards Strawberry Junction"
I don't know if that spot has a name, but it's a great place to camp, or just take a lunch break. On a clear day you see the ocean from there.
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Re: 5/21 "Tour of San Jacinto" Trip Report + Photos

Postby mattytreks » Tue May 24, 2016 9:26 am

2600fromatari wrote:Love that picture with Tahquitz and Suicide! If you want something a little steeper, take the Ernie Maxwell then cut to the climber's trail up to Tahquitz (Lilly Rock).

Thanks for the great tip! I definitely have aspirations of exploring the southeast side of the park -- including Hidden Divide, Tahquitz Peak, Tahquitz/Little Tahquitz Valley, Skunk Cabbage Meadow, and Caramba. Heck, I also would very much love to trek the mythical Gordon Trail to Caramba, if it can ever be easily found...


DKNY2LA wrote:Hey Matty - what software are you using to create those awesome maps?

It's rather primitive actually, but I actually used a zoomed-in PDF version of the map San Jacinto State Park provides online so that I can retain a high quality resolution. I then capture a screenshot of this PDF using SnagIt. And lastly (also using SnagIt), I make mark-ups on the screenshotted map. At that point I save as .PNG to retain the highest possible quality then upload to Flickr or Imgur. Ta da!


Ulysses wrote:Great trip report. Thanks for posting the pictures. The section of the PCT above Strawberry Cienega is also one of my favorite spots on the mountain. It does remind one of the Sierra. I don't know if that spot has a name, but it's a great place to camp, or just take a lunch break. On a clear day you see the ocean from there.

Thanks Ulysses, happy to share them! RE: this area in question, we were clipping at a pretty good speed as we passed it. I regret not taking the time to walk over to the edge and catch some more great views.
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Re: 5/21 "Tour of San Jacinto" Trip Report + Photos

Postby Ellen » Tue May 24, 2016 12:19 pm

Great pictures and TR thanks 8) I especially like the icicle shot. Like Ulysses, I also love the Strawberry Cienega. Time to hike the Strawberry loop from the tram 8)
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Re: 5/21 "Tour of San Jacinto" Trip Report + Photos

Postby pkirkham » Tue May 24, 2016 1:40 pm

I did what you guys did a few weeks ago, what a great 'lollipop' loop....another variation that I had never done before this past Sunday was straight up to the peak from Humber Park and back down Deer Springs. It involves a shuttle but is also a cool variation to the 'normal' routes people take. It's slightly shorter miles-wise and less elevation gain, but still a great loop.
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Re: 5/21 "Tour of San Jacinto" Trip Report + Photos

Postby Hikin_Jim » Tue May 24, 2016 2:17 pm

mattytreks wrote:As someone who yearns for the steepest trails...
May I suggest the Marion Mountain Trail? :twisted:

mattytreks wrote:Not long after passing Deer Springs Creek crossing, we came upon a very interesting man, Asian (possibly Japanese) and in his 50's. He was jovial and even though we were headed towards the peak, he made sure to let us know the peak was the way we were going. After stopping and chatting with him, come to find out he was a PCT thru-hiker. All the way from Mexico. And on the way to CANADA! My mind was blown at that point. After all my years hiking various segments of the PCT and I finally came face-to-face with a person on-trail that was actually in the midst of a full Mexico-to-Canada PCT hike. The only thing I regret doing was not asking to take a picture with him. We then continued up the trail setting our sights for Little Round Valley, when the faint sound of running water became louder and louder. As we finally arrived at its junction with the trail, we took in the beautiful sights and sounds. I'd never expected to run into such a large stream and waterfall on a SanJ trail. Am guessing this was Upper Bed Springs Crossing but will need your help confirming.
Yep. That's Upper Bed Springs Crossing. There isn't any other place with that kind of flow that high anywhere on the mountain.

mattytreks wrote:QUESTIONS
1.) The stream and waterfall I had referred to earlier on Deer Springs Trail just before Little Round Valley...was that indeed Upper Bed Springs? Not sure if this picture helps:
Definitely Upper Bed Spgs Xing

mattytreks wrote:2.) As I was descending PCT toward Strawberry Junction, I came across a sign that said "entering San Jacinto Wilderness". Then as I passed it and looked back the sign going the other way said "entering San Jacinto State Park Wilderness". So, are there two separate wilderness locations within the Santa Rosa Mountains, just with different designations?
Actually, you were in the San Jacintos not the Santa Rosas, but whatever. :) Yes, there is a state park which has a State Park Wilderness. Then there is San Bernardino National Forest which basically surrounds the state park. A portion of the San Bernardino Wilderness from about Fobes Saddle over to part way down Fuller Ridge is Federal Wilderness, created by an act of Congress.

mattytreks wrote:3.) Is there a name for the outcropping of exposed rock that appears on the topo below as a high point? This was on PCT headed towards Strawberry Junction:
Image
Nothing immediately comes to mind, but at my age that doesn't mean much. :)

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Re: 5/21 "Tour of San Jacinto" Trip Report + Photos

Postby JustinB » Tue May 24, 2016 2:25 pm

pkirkham wrote:I did what you guys did a few weeks ago, what a great 'lollipop' loop....another variation that I had never done before this past Sunday was straight up to the peak from Humber Park and back down Deer Springs. It involves a shuttle but is also a cool variation to the 'normal' routes people take. It's slightly shorter miles-wise and less elevation gain, but still a great loop.


Is the shuttle you mention a formalized shuttle, or just hitching a ride with someone? I ask because I was thinking of doing the loop from Humber Park to Deer Springs, heading across from Wellman Divide to Strawberry Junction. After reading this trip report I really want to do it now, but then I have to figure out how to get back to my car at Humber Park.
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Re: 5/21 "Tour of San Jacinto" Trip Report + Photos

Postby mattytreks » Tue May 24, 2016 2:45 pm

Ellen wrote:Great pictures and TR thanks 8) I especially like the icicle shot. Like Ulysses, I also love the Strawberry Cienega. Time to hike the Strawberry loop from the tram 8)

Thanks Ellen! I imagine those icicles will be melting quickly over the next few weeks 8)


Hikin_Jim wrote:Definitely Upper Bed Spgs Xing

Thanks for confirming, Jim!


Hikin_Jim wrote:Actually, you were in the San Jacintos not the Santa Rosas

Oops, I've corrected that. Thanks for clarifying.


Hikin_Jim wrote:Nothing immediately comes to mind, but at my age that doesn't mean much. :)

It seems prominent and distinctive enough to warrant a name. Now, what to name it... :?
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