Today I surveyed from Humber Park to San Jacinto Peak via Wellman Divide, then back via Little Round Valley, the south end of Fuller Ridge Trail, and Deer Springs Trail. See yesterday’s update for details of the South Ridge Trail, the PCT south of Saddle Junction, Devil’s Slide Trail and the Ernie Maxwell Trail. The next trail update will be 7-8 March 2018.
Overview A good snowfall in the early hours of yesterday morning, and some flurries during yesterday, produced a remarkably consistent 4.5-5.5″ (approx. 13cm) of snow at almost all elevations above about 5000′. Strong winds have resulted in some drifting, in many places 6-8″ in trails. Although traction aids (e.g., microspikes) are not strictly essential, they will be useful in many areas, especially for descending, and in the morning when still icy. Very rapid melting started this afternoon below 8000′ at least, and will likely continue on/off for the next week. See the report for 23 Feb regarding the hazards of cold, water availability, and route finding. These issues will improve with higher temperatures over the next few days, but remain challenging. At San Jacinto Peak this morning the air temperature was 20.5° F (-6° C) with a windchill down to 8° F (-13° C), almost tropical compared to last week! At the time of writing, only my tracks were present on every trail surveyed today and yesterday, and these may soon be obscured by drifting snow and melting.
Pacific Crest Trail The entire PCT above 5500′ through the San Jacinto Mountains, including Fuller Ridge, is currently covered with about 3-5″ of fresh snow, with deeper drifts, making it slow going. Fuller Ridge does not have fresh tracks to follow. Snow depth at Saddle Junction was 5″, but only 3-4″ from Strawberry Junction to the Marion Mountain Trail junction. At the south end of Fuller Ridge, snow depth was 5.5″. Most water resources along the PCT above 8300′ are frozen solid and heavily obscured by snow.
San Jacinto Peak trails On the west side, the Upper Deer Springs Trail from Fuller Ridge Junction to San Jacinto Peak has continuous fresh snow cover of 4.5-5.5″ (significantly deeper in areas of drifting and in Little Round Valley where old snow remained). The fresh and drifted snow masks ice from previous storms, and at the various creek and spring crossings, so microspikes are very useful, especially when descending.
On the east side, snow depth at Annie’s Junction (the State Park boundary) was 5″, but only 3-4″ from Wellman’s Cienega through Wellman Divide, thereafter about 5″ to the Peak (but heavily drifted from 9900-10,100′). At San Jacinto Peak itself, fresh snow depth was about 5-6″, but in places overlaying icy snow from January, and heavily drifted.
Deer Springs Trail Snow depth at Strawberry Junction was only 3″, and from 7000-8000′ was 1-3″ with deeper drifts but also some rapidly melting clear areas. Below the Suicide Rock junction, largely clear with small snow patches melting quickly. (See above for sections north from Strawberry Junction.)