Ascending San Jacinto


Hiking the third highest peak in Southern California.

A spur of the moment invitation from my friend James began this trek last december. Fate had aligned our days off and seen to it that we had made no other plans. Quickly, we decided on San Jacinto peak. Seeing as how we had hiked other parts of the trail previously and its proximity to our places of residence, it was the logical choice. I, being the genius that I am, decided to hike the day before and eat more nachos than any one man should eat later that night. Talk about super food. 6am found us driving through the still darkness of early morning. Upon reaching the trailhead sometime later I was quickly enlighten to how poor a nutritional choice nachos really are. They continued to plague me for the entirety of the adventure; however, the angry mexican kracken in my belly could scarcely tarnish the unfathomable beauty of the mountain. Despite it being December, it was a gloriously sunny day with just a handful of vagabond clouds rooming at our elevation. Farther down the mountain there was an immense sea of clouds stretching as far as the eye could sea. Further exaggerating the majesty of San Jacinto peak and its neighboring mountains. Devils Slide was the first segment of our journey and while it's a short 2.5 miles it ascends more than 2,000 feet in elevation. Mexi-Kracken raged during this period but to no avail. We arrived at saddle junction had a quick snack, took this picture,

Saddle Junction.

and continued on our way. This was the farthest I had ever been so past this point everything was fresh and full of wonder. I absolutely love the mountain landscape and San Jacinto is nothing but a picturesque example of it. The proud towering pines, stoic granite formations ranging from humble rock piles to gargantuan boulders. Everywhere you turn there's something wholly majestic to be seen. Unfortunately, the trail was a tad busy which in my opinion takes away a bit of the wondrous feeling of being so far from civilization. Especially closer to the peak where people who have taken the tram from Palm Springs up the mountain become more prevalent. In my opinion the best part of standing on a mountain peak is the sense of accomplishment in overcoming the many miles, difficult terrain and lack of oxygen that tried to deter you. Therefore, the tram cheats you of any real accomplishment and in my opinion ruins the experience of peak bagging. If your going to do it, do it right.

Hours later we found ourselves nearing the peak. At this point the ice on the trees became more and more prevalent. It wasn't long until we found ourselves in the midst of a ice encrusted forest. The way the light shone through the trees made everything appear to be encased in a suit of glittering diamond. This alone was well worth the grueling hours and strenuous work. We made a brief stop at the small cabin that's near the peak. In the future i'd love to come back and spend a night in the quaint little granite cabin. I can only imagine what a sunset or twilight is like atop the mountain. At more than 10,000 feet the air leaves one feeling cheated with each breath. We had already ascended close to 5,000 feet leaving our legs incredibly exhausted. Both of which made the last rock scramble incredibly challenging. Hoisting ones leg up to overcome a boulder becomes a monumental feat of willpower. Alas, we arrived at the sign marking the peak. Here the wind was savage and full of an icy rage. Surprisingly our jeans and light jackets were no match for its frosty violence. Who would of guessed? We spent as much time as was needed to get a photo of ourselves at the peak, which was photobombed, then quickly descended out of the wind. After a quick lunch we began our rapid decent down the mountain and after a total duration of eight and a half hours we found ourselves back where it all began. Absolutely exhausted, we somehow drove our way to the nearest in-n-out and gorged ourselves on delicious 4x4 (animal, protein style of course.) burgers then proceeded to return to our respective homes and collapse.

As far as photography goes I strongly recommend a carrying harness for treks like this. Carrying a camera on a neck strap for such a duration becomes extremely uncomfortable. not to mention having your camera bouncing around is a recipe for disaster. Smashing a lens against a rock would certainly ruin any hike. After this adventure I was given a Cotton Carrier camera system for use on all my hiking adventures. I'll post my review of it at a later date.

This hike left me hungering to conquer more peaks. Mt. Baldy and San Gorgonio will undoubtedly be some of my next adventures but I certainly won't be stooping there. I'm hooked on mountaineering and I can't wait to see what I can accomplish.

The Peak.

San Jacinto Peak Ice Forest

San Jacinto Peak Ice Forest

San Jacinto Peak Cabin

View From San Jacinto Peak

View From San Jacinto peak

Norman Roberts