TR: loop PalmCyn/OakCyn/PCT/JoPond

General Palm Springs area.

TR: loop PalmCyn/OakCyn/PCT/JoPond

Postby hickey » Sun May 27, 2018 3:01 pm

Mission accomplished in 3 days 2 nights.
Started Monday 5/21 at 9am from Indian Canyons Trading Post hiking south up Palm Canyon trail (forest rd 4E01) to Dutch Charlie cut-off, west up Oak Canyon Trail (4E03) to PCT, north PCT to Cedar Springs, east down Jo Pond Trail back to the trading post.
In summery it was pretty brutal but worth it.
Oak Canyon Trail was difficult for path finding (working ways around scrub, rocks and various high points) but at least one can always see their destination at the cut dropping into Oak Canyon at a high point above. Getting up and around Hidden Falls maybe the biggest challenge here.
First night spent on a high mesa midway between PCT and Palm Canyon. It was clear, temperate, quiet and still.
Entering/dropping down into Oak Canyon the next morning the trail finally becomes much more well defined.
There was one glorious spring running right off the trail from under a rock overhang. Cool and perfectly clear.
The trail is shaded all along this mile section, many various trees ..best part easily.
Exiting Oak Canyon involved a long but moderate grade that switch backed up to the PCT.
From here the PCT runs north along the Desert Divide to Cedar Springs where the miles seemed to go by like minutes.
2nd night camped at Cedar Springs and headed down next morning back to the trading post.
This too was more difficult than I imagined. Going from Cedar Springs to Garnet Ridge involved a little scrambling to pick up the faint trail again.
Trading Post arrival at 3:30pm. The ranger there on duty, after hearing our tale, merely sighed.

In retrospect Oak Canyon seemed, IMO, more 'wildrernessy' than other areas of the San Jacintoes and much less visited.
The many ticks and rattlesnakes we found there probably keeps it that way.
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Re: TR: loop PalmCyn/OakCyn/PCT/JoPond

Postby hickey » Sun May 27, 2018 3:30 pm

Some photos now...
Attachments
enter oak cyn.JPG
entering Oak Canyon
camp on mesa.jpg
camp on the mesa
Sign at Dutch Charlie.jpg
Sign at Dutch Charlie
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Re: TR: loop PalmCyn/OakCyn/PCT/JoPond

Postby Wildhorse » Sun May 27, 2018 6:34 pm

I envy you for having made this trip. It sounds wonderful. Not often travelled. In places, "tall and uncut," as Thoreau called untrammeled places.
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Re: TR: loop PalmCyn/OakCyn/PCT/JoPond

Postby Ulysses » Thu May 31, 2018 7:48 am

Wow! Great report. That is some wild country. Thanks for sharing.
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Re: TR: loop PalmCyn/OakCyn/PCT/JoPond

Postby guest » Thu May 31, 2018 9:10 am

Nice TR Hickey,
That's great country up there. You have me intrigued with the grove you spoke of higher up, sounds very nice.
Many years ago I went up Live Oak tr to PCT, it was overgrown back then.
Did you happen to spot one of Wellman's old cabins he used when he ran cattle through there? I know Halhiker posted of the one above Bullseye, but not sure where the other one(s) may still be.
Glad at least some of the trail is discernible. You mentioned the vaguness of trail after Cedar Springs, maybe this is why the 2 guys got lost this winter up there.
cheers, ss
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Re: TR: loop PalmCyn/OakCyn/PCT/JoPond

Postby The Ghost » Thu May 31, 2018 6:28 pm

The Cabin is still there and is in good shape. Hard to find which is a good thing. Would suggest going with someone who has been up in that Country before as it is very wild and fairly easy to get lost in. There are mountain lions up there folks.
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Re: TR: loop PalmCyn/OakCyn/PCT/JoPond

Postby cynthia23 » Thu May 31, 2018 10:52 pm

Did you see/hear any lions, hickey ? (Shudder). But other than that and the ticks (!) .... it sounds like a trip of a lifetime, absolutely magical. Thank you for the excellent TR.
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Re: TR: loop PalmCyn/OakCyn/PCT/JoPond

Postby hickey » Fri Jun 01, 2018 7:33 am

@cynthia; did not see or hear any lions - but did see signs of a recent kill (hind quarter of deer) above Hidden Falls and saw fresh scat along the trail. The ranger on duty monday morning at the trading post did warn us of mountain lions in the area we were heading into.

As to the ticks....only ran into them as we were leaving Oak Canyon up to the PCT. They were all over our lower jeans (talking 10-15 tiny buggers). It was like we were under attack! As soon as we flicked them off....more somehow ended back on us. Can ticks travel in the wind? The ticks were only noticed at a small section on the grade leading out of the canyon...but worse I've ever encountered. After we were halfway up to the PCT they were gone. Needless to say we did a complete body check and no bites. I definitely recommend wearing long pants for this area...or spray yourself with anti-bug spray....which we did not carry.

Now, the rattlesnakes around here (only 3 encountered but that was enough for me) were mostly unseen - but heard. One rattler sounded right off trail near the mouth of Oak Canyon; the canyon amplified its warning sound so loud it seemed like someone was bashing a tambourine right next to my ears. It was the loudest rattle I've ever heard and almost made my skeleton jump out of my body...the canyon walls acting like an amplifier.

Lastly, leaving Cedar Springs for the Jo Pond Trail was tough. There probably is a better trail to Garnet Ridge from Cedar Springs...but we could not find it. Very dense brush everywhere and no clear cut trail that we could find. We ended up going straight up hill from the trough spring to get our bearings following the single foot prints of a previous traveller.

There is an Oak Canyon Trail on BLM & forester's maps - but no real trail to follow despite the sign pointing the way. There were no rock cairns that we could see until 1/2 way up the canyon. Someone did a nice job here of marking the trail as the terrain was very rugged...then we came across a large coil of rubber hosing just disintegrating in the sun. (from an illegal grow? I have no idea).

I would not recommend this 'trail' (Oak Cyn) to the average hiker....it is not 'harder' than C2C - but is rougher in terms of bush whacking and rock scrambling.

Thanks to everyone who liked the TR.
On a more positive ending, I will say that inside Oak Canyon (which is more easily accessible heading in east from the PCT) was everything I could have hoped it would be; the trail was of a dark rich soil, giving a pleasing aroma...there was an abundance of pine nuts, walnut sized with a buttery taste. Birds everywhere above. The many majestic oak trees makes this canyon aptly named. Also cypress, poplar, pine and many others.
And some amazing views looking back down into Palm Canyon.
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Re: TR: loop PalmCyn/OakCyn/PCT/JoPond

Postby guest » Fri Jun 01, 2018 5:34 pm

Ok, now I really want to go, ticks, rattlers & all!
Glad you put the warning re. the difficulty & remoteness, and navigational challenges, as this is the type areas / hikes that can get people in trouble, (like last winter).
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