San Jacinto - The Long Way

Page Type Page Type: Trip Report
Location Lat/Lon: 33.81440°N / 116.6783°W
Date Date Climbed/Hiked: Dec 4, 2003
I had wanted to do the Skyline Trail (Cactus to Clouds, Chino, Outlaw, Sunrise, Skyview and probably some other names) up to San Jacinto Peak and back to Ramon Road without using the Tram. In 1999 this was almost accomplished on account of a few caveats: A faulty Petzl headlamp, a late start, the intimidatingly distant and darkening aerial view of Palm Springs and the beckoning of the Tram station with the easy ride down to an awaiting vehicle packed with cold beer. The peak was attained but 10,000+ feet up and back was too much.

Well, four years passed and the painful memory was now forgotten. An outlook of unseasonly warm weather was predicted in early December 2003. The newly hashed plan was to stash a bike at Snow Creek Village (1200') on the north side of San Jacinto, drive to the eastern trailhead at Ramon Road in Palm Springs (500'), commence the punishment of a net gain and loss of over 20,000' and end the trip with a 14 mile bike ride back to the truck.

At 3:00 AM I started up a much improved trail to Long Valley where snow and ice began impeding progress somewhat. Because of this, it took a total of 10 hours to reach the summit. The trail dropped past Little Round Valley and Fuller Ridge and culminated at a trailhead near Black Mountain. On the north side the ice went considerably lower (6000'). By now it was past 6:00 PM where my (now reliable) Black Diamond headlamp spotted a sign which indicated a disheartening 16 miles down to Snow Creek and the stashed bike. This would mean a 40+ mile day. I've read stories about this section of the PCT. It was mentioned that the trail builder was paid per mile of trail built and that Satan himself built it. Yes, very frustrating when rollercoaster-like switchbacks descend a paltry 100 feet in 1/2 mile. Anyway, after many breaks due to lower back pain and legs that neglected to function, Snow Creek and the bike ride were finally near. Well, almost. I forgot to bring the key to unlock the bike. Since it was still dark, I had to stall around for several hours until daylight and then hopefully some help could be found. I tried to take a nap, but awoke to cold limbs- even while wearing full winter gear. Also, two ticks had bored themselves halfway into my body and a third was completely entombed. (Found out later these were Pajahuello ticks. They are found in and around resting places of their large animal hosts- mainly deer and cattle. Their bite is very painful.)

So, finally after sunrise, I hiked an extra 1.8 miles to highway 111 in an attempt to hitchhike to Palm Springs and the truck. This proved futile, so back to Snow Creek I went. Then I used my cell phone to call a guy named Woody who was caretaker of the Desert Water Agencies' Snow Creek location. I had called him previously to inquire about the possibility of locking my bike up near the private village. I have read that the village inhabitants are less than friendly (one yelled at me for dropping my bike off) so I was hoping Woody could refer me to someone who could cut the U-lock off the bike. A guy named Chops (not making these names up) was recommended. He was ornery, but nevertheless made quick work of the lock using a Makita drill equipped with a cutting disk. Mobile again!

After an easy bike ride I was grateful to be back at the truck in Palm Springs and driving home to San Diego by 11:30 AM.


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