MAR 28

stephen at sespeCasey picked out Mt San Jacinto for his first backcountry trip. Steve was on spring break so was also able to join us. We tossed around a couple of different options for hiking the park, and then I finally called to find out park conditions. It seems much of the park was still under snow so that made it easier for us. We would enter at the trailhead in Idylwild and hike up the Deer Springs Trail to Strawberry Junction.

The start of the trip was a bit slow. There were tons of people and the views were ho-hum. We hiked about two miles to the split for Suicide Rock. We dropped our packs and decided to check it out. Finally, the park started showing promise. There were still lots of people, but the views improved dramatically. Once we arrived at Suicide Rock, we saw several rock climbers scaling the face of the big monolith. Wstrawberry junction campe played around on the rocks for a bit before heading back.

Once we grabbed our packs and continued up the trail, there was a definite drop in people. It seems the trail to Suicide Rock is a popular day hike. We literally only encountered a handful of people after Suicide Rock. There were one pair of guys we met that told us they arrived at the park at 7pm the previous night, hiked until 2am but lost the trail in the snow so they set up camp. Talk about hardcore! Not sure what the views would look like at night, but not exactly my style.

As we neared the campsite at Strawberry Junction, we started to encounter snow. Once we arrived at the spot, we literally spent half an hour trying to figure out where the campsites actually were. There are wooden posts used to indicate each site, but with a couple feet of snow, they were difficult to find. We finally figured it out and it turned out we had an awesome little area with a beautiful view.

sespe sunsetWe set up the tent and now had to find water. The map showed a stream so it was time to look for it. We encountered the stream along the hike to Suicide Rock, so we definitely knew it was flowing. We hiked down a bit until we heard the unmistakable babbling sound that you get with a stream. We filled up the water and then had to haul it up to the site. Easier said than done. Between the steepness and snow, it certainly was a challenge. Luckily, we had enough where it wouldn't require any second trips. By now, the sun had started to set so we grabbed our dinner and a nice rock perch to enjoy the show. snow slide fun

The next morning, we decided to do a day hike to Saddle Junction (or somewhere near there), which was our first experience along the Pacific Crest Trail (PCT). We set off and quickly realized that the snow was going to pose a problem. Not having any crampons, it made it tough to hike. Even worse, the more snow we encountered, the tougher it was to find the trail. But we weren't going to let a little snow stop us. In fact, we decided to take advantage. We came across a couple of huge rocks covered with snow, forming a snow slide. I climbed up to the top and SWOOSH! Down I went. Next up was Casey. On his way down, he lost his balance and had to work to avoid hitting a tree, but had fun none the less. Steve was wearing jeans and prevented him from joining in the fun.

As we continued to hike, the trail offered up 180 degree views of Suicide Rock and the rolling hills in the distance. It was quite enjoyable... one of the prettier views I have seen in a while. We also had more fun with the snow but slipping around and losing the trail. There were a couple of tracks from prevsespeious hikers in the snow, but they were fading and difficult to always see. At one point, the tracks completely stopped, and we realized we had no clue where the trail was so we had to backtrack. We got to an area where we looked around and saw nothing but snow and only our tracks. Off in the distance though, I caught a glimpse of a sign. We found the split where the PCT heads south and north would take you deeper into the park. We decided instead of wandering aimlessly in the snow, we would go ahead and head back.

We made our way back to camp, packed up and headed out. We really wished we could have hiked up to Mt. San Jacinto peak, but I suppose that will have to wait until summer. Can't wait!

Type: Out-and-back
Trailhead: Google
Trail Map: link
Vertical Profile: link

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