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Sierra Nevada Notes

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Mt San Jacinto

Posted by John Zazzara on Thursday, 20 May 1999, at 7:04 a.m.

OK, this isnt the Sierra at all, but not too many postings lately, so I`ll put a plug in for a peak thats close to "Smell A" and an easy hike to invite friends on:

Recently I had a major flashback to the 60`s when I reconnected with my hiking buddy from high school, the lovely Miss Jane Ann Thomsen from Big Bear Lake. When we decided to head up to a peak near her house at the lake, it seemed as if Mt. San Jacinto would make a good choice. This peak sort of looms over the Palm Springs area, beckoning the sweltering masses to escape the heat with a ride up the tram. So Jane Ann and I lined up for the first tram at 10am last monday, equipped with a pack full of picnic treats, and a large bottle of liquer. Jane Ann, ever the keeper of ancient treasures and memora- bilia, astonished me with a picture of the two of us on a hiking trip in the Santa Cruz mountains circa 1970. There had been a lot peaks and a lot of miles under both our feet since then, so there was a lot for us to talk about while the tram lumbered up the mountain to its 8000 ft station.

The Tram dropped us off just a short downhill hike from the ranger station in long valley, where we grabbed a self issue dayhiking permit. From here the map indicates a 2800 vertical foot, and 5.8 mile long trail to the top of the peak at 10,804 ft, passing up and through well forested drainages to Round Valley. This is a well marked and well maintained trail, which is moderately steep. Only small and shrinking patches of snow were visable on this trail in mid may, but one can imagine a ski trip up to the summit earlier in the year. We pulled into round valley and decided it was as good a place as any for a lunch spot, so out came the goodies, including the liquer. Seemed like Jane Ann was relaxing entirely too much to bother with the summit, so we announced to ourselves that this spot was officially Advanced Base Camp, and agreed that Jane Ann was to tend to base camp while I bagged the summit, which was about 3 miles further up the trail. This I proceeded to do, taking about 75 minutes to reach the class 2 boulders at the top. This was a bit of a fast pace, probobly 2 hours would be typical, but with Jane Ann sprawled across the forest floor and a large bottle of french liquer waiting back at "Base Camp" I was in a bit of a hurry to get back. One big suprise for me was the really neat hut near the top of this peak. This would make a great place to spend the night, sort of a rustic pent- house overlooking the glitterati of Palm Springs. On a calm night you can hear the hardening of arteries from all the way up there.

So, after ravaging the liquer and idling around for a while, we packed up basecamp and hiked back to the tram station. Finding ourselves with 30 minutes before the next tram we asked the bartender for a couple of Mexican Coffees which we relaxed over while waiting for the tram. Not exactly a normal peakbagging experience, cant remember last time I ran across a cocktail lounge on a climbing trip (not too many Redheaded vixens waiting back at basecamp either now that I think about it).

Even minus the liquer and good company, this peak is a worthwhile way to spend a day, and certainly is a great way to escape the desert heat.


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