Today I surveyed from Humber Park to San Jacinto Peak via Wellman Divide, returning via Little Round Valley and the PCT southbound through Strawberry Junction back to Devils Slide Trail. Earlier in the week I got more information on trail and water conditions by running up South Ridge Trail to Tahquitz Peak (16th), checking the Ernie Maxwell Trail (17th), and hiking all around the Willow Creek and Tahquitz meadows area (18th).
Overview Today was a great example of how quickly weather can change in the mountains. Another fairly mild week had melted almost all remaining snow/ice on the trails. A cold storm system today brought a dusting of snow above 4000′, and a consistent 0.5″ (12mm) of snow above 8000′, which fell between 0900 and 1100 this morning. At San Jacinto Peak at 0845 today, I recorded a windchill temperature of -8.0° F (-22° C)! However, as soon as the sun emerged, all snow in exposed areas below 10,000′ melted within an hour or so, and most was gone by early afternoon (see photos below). Consequently the fresh snow had no significant impact on routefinding or the accessibility of any trails. No traction devices (e.g., microspikes) are necessary anywhere on the trail system. There is a strong warming trend starting tomorrow, and any remaining snow from today’s storm will likely be melted in the next day or two.
Pacific Crest Trail is clear of snow, other than patches of fresh snow up to 0.5″ deep in areas that are very sheltered. All remaining areas of icy snow from earlier in the season have melted.
Water resources along the PCT (and elsewhere) are currently flowing well, but a number of ephemeral streams are drying up. The flow rates of many of the springs are more reminiscent of mid summer, and water will become a major issue in a month or so without substantial new precipitation.
San Jacinto Peak (west side trails) The upper Deer Springs Trail above the Fuller Ridge Trail junction is clear to San Jacinto Peak, other than patches of fresh snow from today less than an inch deep in sheltered areas.
San Jacinto Peak (east side trails) Completely clear to the Peak, other than patches of fresh snow from today less than an inch deep in sheltered areas. The only snow remaining from earlier in the winter are a few dirty icy patches about 0.3 miles above Wellman Divide, just below and at 10,000′. These pose minimal hazard.
At San Jacinto Peak itself there is almost no snow cover, and the regular route to the Peak involves no snow travel. The eastern slope between San Jacinto and Miller peaks still has about 40% cover of icy snow mainly 4-10″ deep. As a result the East Ridge Trail is still largely obscured.
South Ridge Trail between Tahquitz Peak and the PCT at Chinquapin Flat was completely clear of ice and icy snow on Monday 16th.