I missed the Mt. San Jacinto hike with 3H Family (Hiking for Health and Happiness) last July and so did my good friend, Melevy Sorto because we had prior engagements. It was our last peak of the Six Pack of Peaks Challenge this year that we haven’t completed yet. So we decided to do it the following day, September 4, 2016, after our awesome and crazy adventure of skydiving at Perris, CA. This would be my second time hiking Mt. San Jacinto. Here’s a recap from my first encounter last year:
Our meeting time and place was at 5:30 am near the Marion Mountain Campground (MMC). Unfortunately, at CA-243, the wind was blowing hard with dust and mist in the dark and I couldn’t see the sign. I got lost and went all the way to Idyllwild-Pine Cove. My phone’s GPS was no help since there was no signal. I stopped at a convenience store and asked for information to where I could find Marion Trail. He gave me a map of trails around the area. As I looked at the map in my car, there was no trace of a Marion Trail. I checked my phone’s Google map and worked my way back on the road slowly until I found the intersection. Luckily, there was no traffic. I saw the sign with all the campgrounds listed that included MMC and turned right on Forest Route 4S02 that quickly changes to MMC Road. That’s when I saw Melevy’s van at the opposite direction and I thought to myself that she was leaving already. Instead, she thought of staying near the intersection to spot me. It would be so easy to catch a yellow Camaro but would be a problem if was speeding. LoL 😀
Both of us parked near the MMC campground. We started our hike at the Marion Mountain Trail after 6:30 am with an elevation already 6,000 feet above sea level. Melevy took the lead as I follow her steady pace. I did forget how the trail looked like since the last time I was here. All I remembered was lots of boulders at the summit and a campsite nearby. Less than 2 miles on our hike, I just remembered that I forgot to hang my Adventure Pass in my car. Melevy told that it is okay. If I get a ticket, it’ll be only $5. There were a few bugs annoying us that I applied Melevy’s bug spray. The beauty of our surroundings with huge pine trees giving us shade does really help us on our ascent. Above 8,000 feet, my hands was a little swollen up, I started burping and farting, and a little headache since I wasn’t wearing my hat which I forgot to bring. Luckily, my light jacket had a hoodie. Melevy forgot to bring her sunglasses too. We stopped a little while where the famous hole in the rock.
We then passed the junction of the Pacific Crest Trail, Deer Springs Trail, and Seven Pines Trail where we saw some campers. We continued on the Deer Springs Trail up. As we head on, I realized we’ve been hiking up almost continuously. We had a little breather from the incline at Little Round Valley Campground. I recalled last year that this was the area we encountered light hail and rain and saw one portable toilet. After we left that area, we welcomed more switchbacks. We took breaks in between. Melevy shared her chicken soft taco and gummy bears. It was delicious. We talked a lot on the trail about how crazy we were yesterday doing skydiving.
We reached the junction of Wellman Divide Trail on the right which leads back to the tram area in Palm Springs and to the left is the Mt. San Jacinto Summit Trail. On our last push towards the peak we first stopped by the stone hut. We searched our friend Patty Sanchez’s dog backpack which she left it on a tree branch weeks earlier but couldn’t find it. We went inside and saw two double decker bunk beds. While Melevy was signing the guest book, she told me to be careful not to rest on the bed that was sitting on because they are not stable. We took some photos around the area before continuing our ascent.
And there it was … the huge boulders to scramble before reaching the summit. One false move can be very dangerous and deadly. At 10,834 feet, we finally got to the peak. It wasn’t crowded at the peak. Most of them came from the tram area. It was an awesome scene all around from the top especially the view of Mt. San Gorgonio at a distance. We took some photos, I ate my banana, and rest for 15 minutes. We met a couple of ladies at the top inquiring about 3H events since they saw Melevy’s hat and mentioned they saw us, a huge group at Cucamonga Peak. We answered there questions about the group and Mt. San Gorgonio.
A couple of minutes later, we started heading back down the mountain. As Melevy puts it, a faster pace as gravity pulls as down. We wondered what mountain that we saw on our right that was close by. I checked Google map on a later date and that mountain is called Black Mountain. Since it feels like a long hike back down, we keep on talking and goofing around. One discussion brought about when Melevy asked me what hiking trail I want to lead with 3H. There were lots of hiking trails to think of and I finally thought about Sandstone Peak but I thought that was a short loop at 6.1 miles. It needed to be more than 10 miles. Melevy then said how about Rattlesnake Peak?
Aah … still traumatized by that one but is also less than 10 miles even with the loop but a difficult one. Then I said Mt. San Jacinto is good choice since I’m now familiar with the trails and won’t get lost the third time around. Jokingly, I said that those fast paced hikers will just overtake me going up. I need to keep them in check. 😀 LoL
Melevy and I got back to the parking lot at around 5:30 pm. Since our GPS tracking apps are giving us different mileage, I’ll use what I saw online. After 11.4 miles, it took us 7 hours up and 4 hours down. I was lucky the second time around that I didn’t see a ticket on my windshield. I’ll remember next time to hang my Adventure Pass. It was a really fun hike. It was my first time to finish a Six Pack of Peaks Challenge while Melevy’s second year to finish one. As hikers, it was a big accomplishment for the both of us.