Weather & water 15th November 2018

We hiked to San Jacinto Peak today with friend Carolyn Auwaerter, from Humber Park via Wellman’s Divide, then descending via Deer Springs Trail/PCT to the Suicide Rock Trail, then the Suicide Rock climbers trail back to Humber Park.

Weather There is a possibility of light precipitation forecast for Thursday 22nd November. Temperatures are now seasonal, and today it was frigid at the Peak. Hikers should anticipate temperatures near freezing in the high country (>9000′) and at or below freezing at the high peaks (potentially well below freezing with windchill).

At San Jacinto Peak today, Thursday 15th November, at 0930 the air temperature was 34.6°F (1.4°C), with a windchill temperature of 17°F (-8°C), 24% relative humidity, and a potent 25 mph NE (“Santa Ana”) wind gusting to 33.3 mph.

Similarly, on Friday 9th November at 0830 the air temperature was 29°F (-1.7°C), with a windchill temperature of 13.5°F (-10.3°C), 11% relative humidity, and a stiff 16 mph NE wind gusting to 18 mph.

Remarkable hazy cloud at 6000-7000′ this morning looking SE from San Jacinto Peak (Toro Peak is to the upper left).

Trail overview The water situation in the San Jacinto mountains remains very poor and basically unchanged from early October. The water sources above 9000′ were partially frozen this morning, and more extensive freezing is to be expected soon.

This afternoon we found that Marion Creek, midway along the Suicide Rock Trail, continues to flow quite well. Cedar Spring on the Desert Divide just to the east of the PCT continues to flow gently, as detailed in a prior report at this link.

Marion Creek along Suicide Rock Trail, 15th November 2018.

EASTERN SLOPE WATER FEATURES

The Round Valley faucet has been dry since the summer.

Both the northern and southern springs at Wellman’s Cienega continue to flow gently.

Wellman’s Cienega North spring, 15th November 2018.

These springs are the sources for Willow Creek, which has not been flowing where it crosses the Willow Creek Trail since late summer. There may be small pools where water could be filtered just upstream from the crossing. The creek is actually flowing gently a few hundred yards upstream from the trail crossing, but access is not easy. Willow Creek has not previously been known to stop flowing at the trail crossing.

Tahquitz Valley has been completely dry since May.

Tahquitz Creek continues to flow well at the northern (lower) end of Little Tahquitz Meadow. This is the last remaining “reliable” water source in the Tahquitz meadows area.

Tahquitz Creek is barely trickling further upstream at its source (known locally as Grethe Spring) where it crosses the PCT at the northern end of the fire closure (approx. PCT Mile 177). Immediately after (barely) crossing the PCT, the creek dries up.

Skunk Cabbage Creek is dry where the trail crosses Skunk Cabbage Meadow at the small wooden bridge.

WESTERN SLOPE WATER FEATURES

The North Fork of the San Jacinto River continues to flow, but very poorly, where it crosses the Deer Springs Trail. Flow of this major west-side water source this year has been the lowest in known history.

North Fork of the San Jacinto River at Deer Springs Trail, 15th November 2018.

Just downstream, the North Fork of the San Jacinto River remains dry where it crosses the Pacific Crest Trail on Fuller Ridge (approx. PCT Mile 186). This was the critical water source for PCTers and others hiking to or from Snow Creek, a 22 mile section of trail infamous for being waterless (now waterless for >25 miles). Options for southbound PCT hikers (and other hikers) on this section are all poor. Switchback Spring and Strawberry Cienega (see below) are possibilities staying on the PCT, but both are at extremely low flows. Alternatively, from where the PCT crosses the Black Mountain Road it is possible to descend the road 2.4 miles to the Cinco Poses Spring (a faucet by the roadside, see below). This undulating and exposed road is a descent of about 600′ and ascent of 200′, that would have to be reversed on the way back. PCT hikers who choose to leave the PCT to ascend San Jacinto Peak quickly get access to water at the North Fork on Deer Springs Trail (as described above) and subsequently at Wellman’s Cienega (assuming they choose to descend via the east side).

O’Sullivan Creek (PCT Mile 186.3) on Fuller Ridge Trail has been dry since early May.

The spring in the creek in Little Round Valley has been completely dry since early June.

Shooting Star Spring – 0.28 trail miles below Little Round Valley – continues to trickle gently (when not frozen). For hikers it is just possible to filter water from the source at the base of the obvious huge rock at the top of the wet area of trail, but a better option is to descend to the North Fork crossing mentioned above.

The Deer Springs stream crossing at the PCT (approx. PCT mile 185.6) is dry, and the pools just upstream (and downstream) of the trail are also dry. The Deer Springs themselves continue to flow gently, about 0.15 miles upslope from the trail. Unfortunately, almost all the flow is diverted into a pipe for the Deer Springs camp. The Deer Springs camp just downslope from the trail had been occupied by a crew from the California Conservation Corps off-and-on since late May, but they departed at the end of October.

Switchback Spring – the small spring just below the eight switchbacks on Deer Springs Trail about 0.4 miles north of Strawberry Junction – continues to trickle gently, although flow was very weak today. The tiny pool on the upslope side of the trail is now so shallow that filtering is very challenging.

Switchback Spring on Deer Springs Trail, 15th November 2018.

The little spring at Strawberry Cienega (PCT mile 183) has not been flowing since September. The tiny pool in the crack between the two large rocks is just about useable for emergency filtering.

Strawberry Cienega, 9th November 2018. The pool between the rocks has some accessible water (after I had just removed all the leaves and vegetation).

Cinco Poses Spring on Black Mountain Road (4.7 miles up from Highway 243) still has plenty of water at the faucet. Please do not forget to completely turn off the faucet when you are finished here. This could be an important emergency water source as others dry up throughout the western side of the mountain.

On Devil’s Slide Trail, Middle Spring has been dry since 26th July.

On the Ernie Maxwell Trail, Chinquapin Creek just below Humber Park has been periodically diverted by Fern Valley Water District since the summer. Even when the creek is diverted, good pools receive some fresh flow immediately upstream from the trail. This is a very important water source for the many dogs walked on this trail.

Weather and water 9th November 2018

We hiked to San Jacinto Peak three times this week, on 5th, 7th, and today, 9th November, via various routes. Today’s long loop from Humber Park included a full circuit of the mountain and a long section of the PCT. A really pleasant surprise was catching up with local friend and fellow hiker/runner Michele at Wellman Divide, who then joined us to and at San Jacinto Peak.

Weather Still no hint of precipitation for the mountain in short- or medium-term forecasts. Temperatures are finally dropping to near seasonal, and today it was frigid at the Peak, but it had otherwise been unusually mild so far in November, especially as recently as Monday 5th (see below). Hikers should now expect temperatures near freezing in the high country (>9000′), and at or below freezing at the high peaks (potentially well below freezing with windchill).

At San Jacinto Peak today, Friday 9th November, at 0830 the air temperature was 29°F (-1.7°C), with a windchill temperature of 13.5°F (-10.3°C), 11% relative humidity, and a stiff 16 mph NE (“Santa Ana”) wind gusting to 18 mph.

In stark contrast, on Monday 5th November, at 0835 the air temperature at San Jacinto Peak was a balmy 52°F (11°C), 35% relative humidity, and a windchill temperature of 44.7°F (7°C) despite a brisk NNW wind sustained at 11 mph, gusting to over 16 mph. The temperatures on Wednesday 7th were intermediate between the conditions of 5th and 9th, although more similar to the warmth of Monday 5th.

Trail overview The water situation in the San Jacinto mountains remains very poor, and the overall status of water sources is basically unchanged from early October. The water sources above 9000′ were partially frozen this morning, and more extensive freezing is to be expected in this season. With no precipitation forecast, these water conditions will not improve for the foreseeable future. Cedar Spring on the Desert Divide just to the east of the PCT continues to flow gently, as detailed in a prior report at this link.

EASTERN SLOPE WATER FEATURES

The Round Valley faucet has been dry since the summer.

Both the northern and southern springs at Wellman’s Cienega continue to flow gently.

Wellman’s Cienega North spring, 9th November 2018.

These springs are the sources for Willow Creek, which has not been flowing where it crosses the Willow Creek Trail since late summer. There may be small pools where water could be filtered just upstream from the crossing. The creek is actually flowing gently a few hundred yards upstream from the trail crossing, but access is not easy. Willow Creek has not previously been known to stop flowing at the trail crossing.

Tahquitz Valley has been completely dry since May.

Tahquitz Creek continues to flow well at the northern (lower) end of Little Tahquitz Meadow. This is the last remaining “reliable” water source in the Tahquitz meadows area.

Tahquitz Creek at the north end of Little Tahquitz Meadow, 31st October 2018

Tahquitz Creek is barely trickling further upstream at its source (known locally as Grethe Spring) where it crosses the PCT at the northern end of the fire closure (approx. PCT Mile 177). Immediately after (barely) crossing the PCT, the creek dries up.

Skunk Cabbage Creek is dry where the trail crosses Skunk Cabbage Meadow at the small wooden bridge.

WESTERN SLOPE WATER FEATURES

The North Fork of the San Jacinto River continues to flow poorly where it crosses the Deer Springs Trail. Flow rate was well below 0.5 gallons per minute today. Flow of this major west-side water source this year has been the lowest in known history.

Just downstream, the North Fork of the San Jacinto River remains dry where it crosses the Pacific Crest Trail on Fuller Ridge (approx. PCT Mile 186). This was the critical water source for PCTers and others hiking to or from Snow Creek, a 22 mile section of trail infamous for being waterless (now waterless for >25 miles). Options for southbound PCT hikers (and other hikers) on this section are all poor. Switchback Spring and Strawberry Cienega (see below) are possibilities staying on the PCT, but both are at extremely low flows. Alternatively, from where the PCT crosses the Black Mountain Road it is possible to descend the road 2.4 miles to the Cinco Poses Spring (a faucet by the roadside, see below). This undulating and exposed road is a descent of about 600′ and ascent of 200′, that would have to be reversed on the way back. PCT hikers who choose to leave the PCT to ascend San Jacinto Peak quickly get access to water at the North Fork on Deer Springs Trail (as described above) and subsequently at Wellman’s Cienega (assuming they choose to descend via the east side).

O’Sullivan Creek (PCT Mile 186.3) on Fuller Ridge Trail has been dry since early May.

The spring in the creek in Little Round Valley has been completely dry since early June.

Shooting Star Spring – 0.28 trail miles below Little Round Valley – continues to trickle gently (when not frozen). For hikers it is just possible to filter water from the source at the base of the obvious huge rock at the top of the wet area of trail, but a better option is to descend to the North Fork crossing mentioned above.

The Deer Springs stream crossing at the PCT (approx. PCT mile 185.6) is dry, and the pools just upstream (and downstream) of the trail are also dry. The Deer Springs themselves continue to flow gently, about 0.15 miles upslope from the trail. Unfortunately, almost all the flow is diverted into a pipe for the Deer Springs camp. The Deer Springs camp just downslope from the trail had been occupied by a crew from the California Conservation Corps off-and-on since late May, but they departed at the end of October.

Switchback Spring – the small spring just below the eight switchbacks on Deer Springs Trail about 0.4 miles north of Strawberry Junction – continues to trickle gently, although flow was very weak today. The tiny pool on the upslope side of the trail is now so shallow that filtering is very challenging.

Switchback Spring on Deer Springs Trail, 9th November 2018. Note how all the grass near the tiny pool is flattened due to southbound PCT hikers filtering water here!

The little spring at Strawberry Cienega (PCT mile 183) has not been flowing since September. The tiny pool in the crack between the two large rocks is just about useable for emergency filtering.

Strawberry Cienega, 9th November 2018. The pool between the rocks has some accessible water (after I had just removed all the leaves and vegetation).

Cinco Poses Spring on Black Mountain Road (4.7 miles up from Highway 243) still has plenty of water at the faucet. Please do not forget to completely turn off the faucet when you are finished here. This could be an important emergency water source as others dry up throughout the western side of the mountain.

On Devil’s Slide Trail, Middle Spring has been dry since 26th July.

On the Ernie Maxwell Trail, Chinquapin Creek just below Humber Park has been periodically diverted by Fern Valley Water District since the summer. Even when the creek is diverted, good pools receive some fresh flow immediately upstream from the trail. This is a very important water source for the many dogs walked on this trail.

Water and weather 31st October 2018

Today I reviewed the water sources of the Tahquitz area meadows on the way to my fire lookout shift at Tahquitz Peak. Our hike yesterday went to San Jacinto Peak via Wellman’s Cienega, then descended Deer Springs Trail, checking the higher elevation water sources around the mountain en route.

Weather Temperatures have been above-average for the past week, and will remain so for at least the first week of November. Nevertheless, other than on unseasonably warm days, hikers should now expect temperatures near or below freezing at the high peaks (potentially well below freezing with windchill).

At San Jacinto Peak yesterday, Tuesday 30th October, at 0930 the air temperature was 39.5°F (4°C), with a windchill temperature of 27.4°F (-2.6°C), 31% relative humidity, and a fresh 10 mph due West wind gusting to 17 mph.

Bear update One of our resident Black Bears passed through Thousand Trails in upper Pine Cove on or around Sunday 28th October 2018. [Many thanks to Kathy Price-Robinson for this information.]

Trail overview The water situation in the San Jacinto mountains remains very poor, and the overall status of water sources is basically unchanged from early October. Small patches of snow remain on San Jacinto Peak in Snow Creek on the uppermost North Face.

Cedar Spring on the Desert Divide just to the east of the PCT continues to flow gently, as detailed in a prior report at this link.

EASTERN SLOPE WATER FEATURES

The Round Valley faucet has been dry since the summer.

Both the northern and southern springs at Wellman’s Cienega continue to flow gently.

Wellman’s Cienega North spring, 30th October 2018.

These springs are the sources for Willow Creek, which is no longer flowing where it crosses the Willow Creek Trail. There are small pools where water could be filtered just upstream from the crossing. The creek is actually flowing gently a few hundred yards upstream from the trail crossing, but access is not easy. Willow Creek has not previously been known to stop flowing at the trail crossing.

Tahquitz Valley has been completely dry since May.

Tahquitz Creek continues to flow well at the northern (lower) end of Little Tahquitz Meadow. This is the last remaining “reliable” water source in the Tahquitz meadows area.

Tahquitz Creek at the north end of Little Tahquitz Meadow, 31st October 2018

Tahquitz Creek is barely trickling further upstream at its source (known locally as Grethe Spring) where it crosses the PCT at the northern end of the fire closure (approx. PCT Mile 177). Immediately after (barely) crossing the PCT, the creek dries up.

Grethe Spring, the source of Tahquitz Creek, barely trickling, 31st October 2018.

Skunk Cabbage Creek is dry where the trail crosses Skunk Cabbage Meadow at the small wooden bridge.

WESTERN SLOPE WATER FEATURES

The North Fork of the San Jacinto River continues to flow poorly where it crosses the Deer Springs Trail. Flow rate was only about 0.5 gallons per minute today. Flow of this major west-side water source this year has been the lowest in known history.

North Fork of the San Jacinto River on Deer Springs Trail, 30th October 2018.

Just downstream, the North Fork of the San Jacinto River remains dry where it crosses the Pacific Crest Trail on Fuller Ridge (approx. PCT Mile 186). This was the critical water source for PCTers and others hiking to or from Snow Creek, a 22 mile section of trail infamous for being waterless (now waterless for >25 miles). Options for southbound PCT hikers (and other hikers) on this section are all poor. Switchback Spring and Strawberry Cienega (see below) are possibilities staying on the PCT, but both are at extremely low flows. Alternatively, from where the PCT crosses the Black Mountain Road it is possible to descend the road 2.4 miles to the Cinco Poses Spring (a faucet by the roadside, see below). This undulating and exposed road is a descent of about 600′ and ascent of 200′, that would have to be reversed on the way back. PCT hikers who choose to leave the PCT to ascend San Jacinto Peak quickly get access to water at the North Fork on Deer Springs Trail (as described above) and subsequently at Wellman’s Cienega (assuming they choose to descend via the east side).

O’Sullivan Creek (PCT Mile 186.3) on Fuller Ridge Trail has been dry since early May.

The spring in the creek in Little Round Valley has been completely dry since early June.

Shooting Star Spring – 0.28 trail miles below Little Round Valley – continues to flow very gently. For hikers it is just possible to filter water from the source at the base of the obvious huge rock at the top of the wet area of trail, but a better option is to descend to the North Fork crossing mentioned above.

The Deer Springs stream crossing at the PCT (approx. PCT mile 185.6) is dry, and the pools just upstream (and downstream) of the trail are also dry. The Deer Springs themselves continue to flow gently, about 0.15 miles upslope from the trail. Unfortunately, almost all the flow is diverted into a pipe for the Deer Springs camp. The Deer Springs camp just downslope from the trail had been occupied by a crew from the California Conservation Corps off-and-on since late May, but on 30th October they appeared to be packing up and the camp will likely be vacated very soon.

Switchback Spring – the small spring just below the eight switchbacks on Deer Springs Trail about 0.4 miles north of Strawberry Junction – continues to trickle gently, although flow was very weak today. The tiny pool on the upslope side of the trail is now so shallow that filtering is very challenging.

Switchback Spring on Deer Springs Trail, 30th October 2018.

The little spring at Strawberry Cienega (PCT mile 183) is dry. The tiny pool in the crack between the two large rocks might be useable for emergency filtering.

Cinco Poses Spring on Black Mountain Road (4.7 miles up from Highway 243) still has abundant water at the faucet. Please do not forget to completely turn off the faucet when you are finished here. This could be an important emergency water source as others dry up throughout the western side of the mountain.

On Devil’s Slide Trail, Middle Spring has been dry since 26th July.

On the Ernie Maxwell Trail, Chinquapin Creek just below Humber Park has been periodically diverted by Fern Valley Water District since the summer. It was dry where it crosses the trail when I checked it on Monday 29th October. Even when the creek is diverted, good pools receive some fresh flow immediately upstream from the trail. This is a very important water source for the many dogs walked on this trail.

Water and weather 25th October 2018

Our hike today went to San Jacinto Peak via Wellman’s Cienega, then descending Deer Springs Trail, which allowed a check of most higher elevation water sources around the mountain. Other hikes this week have included a couple in the Tahquitz area and one up-and-down the Black Mountain Trail. A hike with friends on Thursday 18th October to several peaks above 10,000′ included my 100th ascent of San Jacinto Peak this year.

Weather The moderate precipitation of 12th-13th October is already a distant memory. Temperatures had been pleasantly cool and more-or-less seasonal, but a marked warming to above-average temperatures starting today will continue over the next few days, before a return to cooler weather early next week.

Other than during the unseasonably warm weather for about the next week, hikers should now expect temperatures near freezing in the high country >9,000′ elevation, and at or below freezing at the high peaks (potentially well below freezing with windchill).

At San Jacinto Peak at 0925 this morning, Thursday 25th October, the air temperature was 45°F (7°C), with a windchill temperature of 40.4F (5°C), 32% relative humidity, and a very light mph North wind gusting to 5 mph. Note that the windchill temperature was 45° warmer than at the same time ten days earlier!

On Thursday 18th October at 0730, the air temperature was 27°F (-3°C), with a windchill temperature of 9.4°F (-12.5°C), 62% relative humidity, and a bitter 21 mph NNE wind gusting to 24 mph.

Giant Sequoia (Sequoiadendron giganteum) on Black Mountain Trail, 23rd October 2018. There is a thriving introduced population of nearly 200 (very small!) sequoias between 6700′-7300′ elevation on this trail.

Trail overview The modest rainfall throughout the mountain – with even a dusting of snow in the high country – nearly two weeks ago has had no lasting impact on the water situation in the San Jacinto mountains, which remains very poor. The overall status of water sources is basically unchanged from early October. Miniscule patches of snow remain on San Jacinto Peak near the East Ridge Trail, but some decent patches (1-2″ deep) remain in Snow Creek on the uppermost North Face.

Cedar Spring on the Desert Divide just to the east of the PCT continues to flow gently, as detailed in a prior report at this link.

Excellent news on the Seven Pines Trail, as first reported here last week. It seems that frequent reporting of the poor condition of this trail to the agencies paid off, and the several dozen trees that were across this lovely trail have been largely cleared by a State maintenance team.

EASTERN SLOPE WATER FEATURES

The Round Valley faucet has been dry since the summer.

Both the northern and southern springs at Wellman’s Cienega continue to flow gently.

Wellman’s Cienega North spring, 25th October 2018.

These springs are the sources for Willow Creek, which is no longer flowing where it crosses the Willow Creek Trail. There are small pools where water could be filtered just upstream from the crossing. The creek is actually flowing gently a few hundred yards upstream from the trail crossing, but access is not easy. Willow Creek has not previously been known to stop flowing at the trail crossing.

Tahquitz Valley has been completely dry since May.

Tahquitz Creek continues to flow well at the northern (lower) end of Little Tahquitz Meadow. This is the last remaining “reliable” water source in the Tahquitz meadows area.

Tahquitz Creek at the north end of Little Tahquitz Meadow, 16th October 2018.

Tahquitz Creek is barely trickling further upstream at its source (known locally as Grethe Spring) where it crosses the PCT at the northern end of the fire closure (approx. PCT Mile 177). Immediately after (barely) crossing the PCT, the creek dries up.

Skunk Cabbage Creek is dry where the trail crosses Skunk Cabbage Meadow at the small wooden bridge.

WESTERN SLOPE WATER FEATURES

The North Fork of the San Jacinto River continues to flow poorly where it crosses the Deer Springs Trail. Flow rate was down to about 0.5 gallons per minute today. Flow of this major west-side water source this year has been the lowest in known history.

North Fork of the San Jacinto River on Deer Springs Trail, 25th October 2018.

Just downstream, the North Fork of the San Jacinto River was still dry today where it crosses the Pacific Crest Trail on Fuller Ridge (approx. PCT Mile 186). This was the critical water source for PCTers and others hiking to or from Snow Creek, a 22 mile section of trail infamous for being waterless (but now waterless for >25 miles). Options for southbound PCT hikers (and other hikers on this section) are all poor. Switchback Spring and Strawberry Cienega (see below) are possibilities staying on the PCT, but both are at extremely low flows. If heading to San Jacinto Peak, the North Fork where it crosses the Deer Springs Trail is a good option. Alternatively, from where the PCT crosses the Black Mountain Road it is possible to descend the road 2.4 miles to the Cinco Poses Spring (a faucet by the roadside, see below). This undulating and exposed road is a descent of about 600′ and ascent of 200′, that would have to be reversed on the way back. PCT hikers who choose to leave the PCT to ascend San Jacinto Peak quickly get access to water at the North Fork on Deer Springs Trail (as described above) and subsequently at Wellman’s Cienega (assuming they choose to descend via the east side).

O’Sullivan Creek (PCT Mile 186.3) on Fuller Ridge Trail has been dry since early May.

The spring in the creek in Little Round Valley has been completely dry since early June.

Shooting Star Spring – 0.28 trail miles below Little Round Valley – continues to flow very gently. For hikers it is just possible to filter water from the source at the base of the obvious huge rock at the top of the wet area of trail, but a better option is to descend to the North Fork crossing mentioned above.

The Deer Springs stream crossing at the PCT (approx. PCT mile 185.6) is dry, and the pools just upstream (and downstream) of the trail are also dry. The Deer Springs themselves continue to flow gently, about 0.15 miles upslope from the trail. Unfortunately, almost all the flow is diverted into a pipe for the Deer Springs camp. The Deer Springs camp just downslope from the trail has been occupied by a crew from the California Conservation Corps off-and-on since late May.

Switchback Spring – the small spring just below the eight switchbacks on Deer Springs Trail about 0.4 miles north of Strawberry Junction – continues to trickle gently, although flow was very weak today. The tiny pool on the upslope side of the trail is now so shallow that filtering is very challenging.

Switchback Spring on Deer Springs Trail, 25th October 2018.

The little spring at Strawberry Cienega (PCT mile 183) is dry. The tiny pool in the crack between the two large rocks might be useable for emergency filtering.

Cinco Poses Spring on Black Mountain Road (4.7 miles up from Highway 243) still has abundant water at the faucet. Please do not forget to completely turn off the faucet when you are finished here. This could be an important emergency water source as others dry up throughout the western side of the mountain. [Many thanks to Florian Boyd for this update from our joint shift at the Black Mountain fire lookout on Tuesday 23rd October.]

On Devil’s Slide Trail, Middle Spring has been dry since 26th July.

On the Ernie Maxwell Trail, Chinquapin Creek just below Humber Park has been periodically diverted by Fern Valley Water District since the summer. It was dry where it crosses the trail when I checked it on Monday 22nd October. Even when the creek is diverted, good pools receive some fresh flow immediately upstream from the trail. This is a very important water source for the many dogs walked on this trail.

Snow and wind 15th October 2018

My pleasantly chilly hike today went to San Jacinto Peak via Wellman’s Cienega and a quick check of the Round Valley faucet, then descended on Deer Springs Trail, with a side hike part-way along Fuller Ridge Trail. This allowed me to check the higher elevation water sources around the mountain. [I was able to check the water sources of the Tahquitz area meadows on Tuesday 16th.]

Weather The entire mountain experienced moderate rainfall on Friday night and throughout Saturday, 12th-13th October. In total we had 0.72″ at 5550′ elevation in Idyllwild, while Garner Valley and Long Valley received an inch, and all the weather stations in the region recorded at least 0.5″.

The high elevations even received a dusting of October snow. About 0.5″ fell above 9800′ on the east side, with about 1.0″ above 10,300′. On the west side, the snow level was a little higher (there was none in Little Round Valley). Only very limited patches remained today (except in upper Snow Creek), and no traction assistance (e.g., microspikes) is currently required.

Also, hikers should now expect temperatures near freezing in the high country >9,000′ elevation, and at or below freezing at the high peaks (potentially well below freezing with windchill).

At San Jacinto Peak at 1045 this morning, Monday 15th October, the air temperature was 20°F (-7°C), with a windchill temperature of -4.7°F (-20°C), 30% relative humidity, and a sustained, frigid 22 mph NE wind gusting to 32.2 mph.

On Thursday 11th October at 1445, the air temperature was 38°F (3.3°C), with a windchill temperature of 30.9°F (-1°C), 79% relative humidity, and a light 3 mph South wind gusting to 7.5 mph.

Trail overview The water situation in the San Jacinto mountains remains very poor despite the precipitation of recent days discussed above. My observations indicate that water sources that were still flowing experienced an increase in flow rate thanks to the rainfall. However, sources that were already dry did not receive enough new input to get them flowing again.

Excellent news on the Seven Pines Trail. After years of neglect by the State Park, during which dozens of fallen trees significantly obscured this lovely trail, a maintenance program has removed almost all the obstructions. It seems that frequent reporting of the poor condition of this trail by myself and others to the agencies has finally paid off (I have had two search-and-rescue missions on Seven Pines this year alone, with hikers getting lost due to the challenges of navigating this trail).

EASTERN SLOPE WATER FEATURES

The Round Valley faucet remained dry today, with no evidence of any flow in recent days despite the rain.

Round Valley faucet, 15th October 2018.

Both the northern and southern springs at Wellman’s Cienega continue to flow. The northern spring was flowing much stronger this morning than last week.

Wellman’s Cienega North spring, 15th October 2018.

These springs are the sources for Willow Creek, which is no longer flowing where it crosses the Willow Creek Trail. There are small pools where water could be filtered just upstream from the crossing. The creek is actually flowing gently a few hundred yards upstream from the trail crossing, but access is not easy. Willow Creek has not previously been known to stop flowing at the trail crossing.

Tahquitz Valley has been completely dry since May.

Tahquitz Creek continues to flow well at the northern (lower) end of Little Tahquitz Meadow. This is the last remaining “reliable” water source in the Tahquitz meadows area.

Tahquitz Creek at the north end of Little Tahquitz Meadow, 16th October 2018.

Tahquitz Creek is barely trickling further upstream at its source (known locally as Grethe Spring) where it crosses the PCT at the northern end of the fire closure (approx. PCT Mile 177). Immediately after (barely) crossing the PCT, the creek dries up.

Tahquitz Creek crossing the PCT immediately below Grethe Spring, 16th October 2018.

Skunk Cabbage Creek is dry where the trail crosses Skunk Cabbage Meadow at the small wooden bridge.

WESTERN SLOPE WATER FEATURES

The North Fork of the San Jacinto River continues to flow gently where it crosses the Deer Springs Trail. Initially on 15th October I thought the flow rate had dropped, but this was because the river was partly frozen just upstream (note the icicles in the upper part of the photo).

North Fork of the San Jacinto River on Deer Springs Trail, 15th October 2018.

Just downstream, the North Fork of the San Jacinto River was still dry today where it crosses the Pacific Crest Trail on Fuller Ridge (approx. PCT Mile 186). This was the critical water source for PCTers and others hiking to or from Snow Creek, a 22 mile section of trail infamous for being waterless (but now waterless for >25 miles). Options for southbound PCT hikers (and other hikers on this section) are all poor. Switchback Spring and Strawberry Cienega (see below) are possibilities staying on the PCT, but both are at extremely low flows. If heading to San Jacinto Peak, the North Fork where it crosses the Deer Springs Trail is a good option. Alternatively, from where the PCT crosses the Black Mountain Road it is possible to descend the road 2.4 miles to the Cinco Poses Spring (a faucet by the roadside, see below). This undulating and exposed road is a descent of about 600′ and ascent of 200′, that would have to be reversed on the way back.

O’Sullivan Creek (PCT Mile 186.3) on Fuller Ridge Trail has been dry since early May.

The spring in the creek in Little Round Valley has been completely dry since early June.

Shooting Star Spring – 0.28 trail miles below Little Round Valley – continues to flow gently. For hikers it is possible to filter water from the source at the base of the obvious huge rock at the top of the wet area of trail, but a better option is to descend to the North Fork crossing mentioned above.

Deer Springs Trail immediately below Shooting Star Spring, 15th October 2018.

The Deer Springs stream crossing at the PCT (approx. PCT mile 185.6) is dry, and the pools just upstream (and downstream) of the trail are also dry. The Deer Springs themselves continue to flow gently, about 0.15 miles upslope from the trail. Unfortunately, almost all the flow is diverted into a pipe for the Deer Springs camp. The Deer Springs camp just downslope from the trail has been occupied by a crew from the California Conservation Corps off-and-on since late May.

Switchback Spring – the small spring just below the eight switchbacks on Deer Springs Trail about 0.4 miles north of Strawberry Junction – continues to trickle gently. Today there was no sign that the flow rate had improved after recent rain. The tiny pool on the upslope side of the trail is now so shallow that filtering is very challenging.

Switchback Spring on Deer Springs Trail, 15th October 2018.

The little spring at Strawberry Cienega (PCT mile 183) is still dry. The tiny pool in the crack between the two large rocks might be useable for emergency filtering.

Cinco Poses Spring on Black Mountain Road (4.7 miles up from Highway 243) still has running water at the faucet. This could be an important emergency water source as others dry up throughout the western side of the mountain.

On Devil’s Slide Trail, Middle Spring has been dry since 26th July, and remained dry this morning despite recent rainfall.

On the Ernie Maxwell Trail, Chinquapin Creek just below Humber Park was no longer being diverted by Fern Valley Water District as of 2nd October. Today there were good pools in the trail, and the creek was trickling across the trail. [Many thanks to Anne King for today’s update.] Even if the creek is diverted, good pools receive some fresh flow immediately upstream from the trail. This creek is a very important water source for the many dogs walked on this trail.

Weather 11th October 2018

There have been no significant changes to the water conditions on the mountain, which are detailed at the previous posting here.

However it has been a busy week for hiking, especially yesterday, as I mention in the video below. Also on Wednesday 10th, Anabel and I hiked the Cedar Springs and upper Jo Pond trails, and on 8th I went to San Jacinto Peak to check on the weather.

Weather Prospects for some rain at all elevations – even a dusting of snow on the Peak – seem good over the weekend. As I mention in the video, temperatures are near or below freezing at the highest elevations throughout the day at this time.

At San Jacinto Peak at 1445 on Thursday 11th October, the air temperature was 38°F (2.5°C), with a windchill temperature of 31°F (-0.5°C), 79% relative humidity, and a cool 3 mph South wind gusting to 8 mph.

On Monday 8th October at 0920, the air temperature was 34°F (1°C), with a windchill temperature of 21.4°F (-6°C), 32% relative humidity, and a sustained 5 mph NNW wind gusting to 14 mph.

Cedar Spring continues to flow gently. The trough about 35 yards upslope from the sign is full of water that is good for filtering.

Cedar Spring trough, 10th October 2018.

Water and weather 5th October 2018

My lovely hike today went up Deer Springs Trail to San Jacinto Peak then descended on the east side via the Tahquitz area meadows to Tahquitz Peak. This allowed for a check of most water sources around the mountain, and to see the extent of the rainfall from yesterday morning.

Trail overview The water situation in the San Jacinto mountains remains very poor. At this stage of the year, I am optimistic that the few water sources that are still flowing will not dry up before adequate precipitation falls. The high country above 9000′ elevation missed out on the drizzle that fell yesterday (discussed below), so the status of most water sources remains unchanged from recent updates.

Weather There was very light rainfall in the early hours of Thursday morning, 4th October, with 0.15″ at 5500′ elevation in Idyllwild. Elevations above about 9000′ remained above the cloud and received no rainfall. On the trails there was subtle evidence of light rainfall below about 9000′ on all sides of the mountain.

As is typical in the San Jacintos, the transition from summer to winter is very rapid, and conditions are already starting to feel pleasantly wintry in the highest elevations. Temperatures are now near freezing in the high country >10,000′ elevation (and below freezing on exposed peaks with windchill).

At San Jacinto Peak at 1010 this morning, Friday 5th October, the air temperature was 37°F (3°C), with a windchill temperature of 25.3°F (-4°C), 54% relative humidity, and a cool 6 mph North wind gusting to 12 mph.

On Wednesday 3rd October at 0950, the air temperature was 41°F (5°C), with a windchill temperature of 28.4°F (-2°C), 45% relative humidity, and a sustained 8 mph SSW wind gusting to 18 mph.

EASTERN SLOPE WATER FEATURES

The Round Valley faucet is dry.

Both the northern and southern springs at Wellman’s Cienega continue to flow weakly. The northern spring was flowing very slightly stronger this morning than recent days.

Wellmans North Cienega, 5th October 2018.

These springs are the sources for Willow Creek, which is no longer flowing where it crosses the Willow Creek Trail. There are small pools where water could be filtered just upstream from the crossing. The creek is actually flowing gently a few hundred yards upstream from the trail crossing, but access is not easy. Willow Creek has not previously been known to stop flowing at the trail crossing.

Tahquitz Valley has been completely dry since May.

Tahquitz Creek continues to flow well at the northern (lower) end of Little Tahquitz Meadow. Flow today was slightly stronger following the light rain. This is the last remaining “reliable” water source in the Tahquitz meadows area.

Tahquitz Creek at the north end of Little Tahquitz Meadow, 5th October 2018.

Tahquitz Creek is barely trickling further upstream at its source (known locally as Grethe Spring) where it crosses the PCT at the northern end of the fire closure (approx. PCT Mile 177). Immediately after (barely) crossing the PCT, the creek dries up.

Grethe Spring (the source of Tahquitz Creek), 5th October 2018.

Skunk Cabbage Creek is dry where the trail crosses Skunk Cabbage Meadow at the small wooden bridge.

WESTERN SLOPE WATER FEATURES

The North Fork of the San Jacinto River continues to flow weakly where it crosses the Deer Springs Trail, but the flow has dropped dramatically in the past couple of weeks to only about 0.6 gallons per minute. The water levels for this river are the lowest in living memory.

North Fork of the San Jacinto River on Deer Springs Trail, 5th October 2018.

Just downstream, the North Fork of the San Jacinto River has dried up where it crosses the Pacific Crest Trail on the Fuller Ridge Trail (approx. PCT Mile 186). This was the critical water source for PCTers and others hiking to or from Snow Creek, a 22 mile section of trail infamous for being waterless (but now waterless for >25 miles). Options for southbound PCT hikers (and other hikers on this section) are all poor. Switchback Spring and Strawberry Cienega (see below) are possibilities staying on the PCT, but both are at extremely low flows. If heading to San Jacinto Peak, the North Fork where it crosses the Deer Springs Trail is a good option. Alternatively, from where the PCT crosses the Black Mountain Road it is possible to descend the road 2.4 miles to the Cinco Poses Spring (a faucet by the roadside, see below). This undulating and exposed road is a descent of about 600′ and ascent of 200′, that would have to be reversed on the way back.

O’Sullivan Creek (PCT Mile 186.3) on Fuller Ridge Trail has been dry since early May.

The spring in the creek in Little Round Valley has been completely dry since early June.

Shooting Star Spring – 0.28 trail miles below Little Round Valley – continues to flow gently. For hikers it is possible to filter water from the source at the base of the obvious huge rock at the top of the wet area of trail, but a better option is to descend to the North Fork crossing mentioned above.

The Deer Springs stream crossing at the PCT (approx. PCT mile 185.6) is dry, and the pools just upstream (and downstream) of the trail are also dry. The Deer Springs themselves continue to flow gently, about 0.15 miles upslope from the trail. Unfortunately, almost all the flow is diverted into a pipe for the Deer Springs camp. The Deer Springs camp just downslope from the trail has been occupied by a crew from the California Conservation Corps off-and-on since late May.

Switchback Spring – the small spring just below the eight switchbacks on Deer Springs Trail about 0.4 miles north of Strawberry Junction – continues to trickle very gently. The tiny pool on the upslope side of the trail (where water could be filtered in an emergency) is now so shallow that filtering is challenging.

Switchback Spring crossing the PCT, 5th October 2018.

The little spring at Strawberry Cienega (PCT mile 183) has now dried up. The tiny pool in the crack between the two large rocks might be useable for emergency filtering.

Cinco Poses Spring on Black Mountain Road (4.7 miles up from Highway 243) still has running water at the faucet. This could be an important emergency water source as others dry up throughout the western side of the mountain.

On Devil’s Slide Trail, Middle Spring has been dry since 26th July.

On the Ernie Maxwell Trail, Chinquapin Creek just below Humber Park was no longer being diverted by Fern Valley Water District as of 2nd October. Even if the creek is diverted, good pools receive some fresh flow immediately upstream from the trail. This creek is a very important water source for the many dogs walked on this trail.