PCT and Peak trails 5 April 2018

This morning we surveyed from Humber Park to San Jacinto Peak via Wellman Divide, then descended Deer Springs Trail via Little Round Valley and Strawberry Junction.

Overview Other than a couple of small areas of Fuller Ridge (see 1 April update), and South Ridge Trail on the north side of Tahquitz Peak (updated on 3 April), trails below 9000′ (2700m) are completely clear of snow and ice, including almost all of the PCT. The forecast for at least the next week will result in accelerated melting of the ice and snow persisting at higher elevations. The most difficult area remains the Upper Deer Springs Trail from San Jacinto Peak on the west side down to 9800′ (Little Round Valley). The majority of this trail remains under ice and icy snow. Although passable with considerable care without microspikes for those experienced on ice, hikers who are unfamiliar with ice/snow travel may well find microspikes useful for this section, especially on the descent.

Pacific Crest Trail The PCT is largely clear of snow/ice from Saddle Junction (Mile 179.9) to about Mile 185. The few tiny ice patches present can be safely crossed without microspikes. From about Mile 185 (just south of the Marion Mountain Trail junction) for about 0.5 mile, icy snow patches are more frequent, but spikes are not necessary. Fuller Ridge is also passable without microspikes, see the 1 April update for details. All water resources along the PCT (and elsewhere), including many ephemeral streams, are currently flowing well.

San Jacinto Peak trails On the west side, the Upper Deer Springs Trail above the Fuller Ridge Trail junction is clear to about 9600′, then there is a 0.25 mile section to 9700′ with extensive ice patches. The trail is largely clear again from 9700′ to the bottom of Little Round Valley. Little Round Valley has about 50% icy snow cover, although most is fairly flat and easy to traverse. There is about 60% snow cover to San Jacinto Peak from 10,200′, with the patches being very icy, especially in the morning. See comments above regarding value of microspikes in this area.

On the east side, the trail is almost completely clear to the Peak, except for a section of about 0.3 miles above Wellman Divide, between 9900′ and 10,100′, where there is almost continuous thin ice and compacted snow. Hikers uncomfortable with ice/snow travel may find microspikes useful on this section, at least for descending.

At San Jacinto Peak itself there is about 90% snow cover, but the steepest sections near the Peak can be reached via exposed boulders without significant snow travel. The East Ridge Trail (from near Miller Peak to just below San Jacinto Peak) is still 100% snow covered, largely 4-12″ deep, with some deeper drifts. There are no obvious tracks to follow. In the morning the snow here is hard and easy to ascend, but would probably require microspikes to descend.

The junction of the PCT with the Deer Springs Trail at the south end of Fuller Ridge, 5 April 2018. The same week last year, the sign was hidden under 3-4 feet (about one metre) of snow!

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