Water (and bear!) conditions 31 May 2018

This update is a compilation of surveys, including this morning when we hiked to San Jacinto Peak from Humber Park via Wellman Divide, yesterday when I hiked up South Ridge to Tahquitz Peak and back via Devil’s Slide Trail as part of my first fire lookout shift of the season, and multiple other hikes in the last week to both San Jacinto and Tahquitz peaks.

At San Jacinto Peak at 0800 this morning the air temperature was 36.5°F (2.5°C), but with a steady west wind the windchill temperature was as low as 24.4°F (-4.2°C). All month a thick marine cloud layer has covered the lowlands to the west almost every morning at about 4000-5000′ elevation, usually (but not always) dispersing around 0900-1100.

Overview Water resources everywhere are flowing poorly for the time of year, and yet again flow rates everywhere were visibly lower than just 10 days ago. Water conditions for the PCT south of Idyllwild (from Highway 74 to the Spitler area) were last updated in my previous posting.

Be bear aware The San Jacinto Mountains do not ordinarily hold Black Bear. However in 2017, for the first time in 20 years, there were at least two seen in the summer months, everywhere from Garner Valley to Idyllwild to Long Valley and Black Mountain. Well at least one has made a reappearance this summer. On 28th May 2018, one large bear was reliably reported at the Black Mountain Group Campground. What may have been a different individual walked by our house in Idyllwild on 15th May 2018, and fortunately the wildlife cam on our property caught it on video. All hikers and campers in the area should therefore act as if they are in typical bear country and take necessary precautions.

And be snake aware Southern Pacific Rattlesnakes are now out in abundance, to at least 9000′ elevation. Reports I received yesterday from visitors to Tahquitz Peak ranged from 2-4 individuals on the trails between Humber Park and Tahquitz Peak, between mid morning to mid afternoon.


The Round Valley faucet is currently flowing weakly but consistently.

Both the northern and southern springs at Wellman’s Cienega are flowing fine, but flow rates are very low for May. These are the sources for Willow Creek, which is flowing well where it crosses the Willow Creek Trail.

Tahquitz Valley is completely dry.

Tahquitz Creek is flowing fairly well at the northern (lower) end of Little Tahquitz Meadow. It is also flowing well 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).

Skunk Cabbage Creek – that flows through Skunk Cabbage Meadow and then crosses the Caramba Trail near Reeds Meadow – is currently flowing, but poorly.


The North Fork of the San Jacinto River is flowing well both where it crosses the Deer Springs Trail above Fuller Ridge, and where it crosses the Fuller Ridge Trail on the PCT (approx. PCT Mile 186.2). [For northbound thru-hikers, the latter is the crucial refill point before a section of 22.5 miles with no water.]

O’Sullivan Creek (PCT Mile 186.4) on Fuller Ridge Trail is completely dry.

The spring in the creek in Little Round Valley is only a trickle for a few feet – half of what it was ten days ago – just above the crossing for Campsite 2 (Owls Hootch). There is no longer sufficient to filter, and it will dry completely in June.

Both the spring and small creek just below Little Round Valley (but above the North Fork of the San Jacinto River crossing) are currently flowing.

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. [PCT thru hikers note: almost all PCT guides and apps confuse the Deer Springs crossing with the North Fork of the San Jacinto River. The latter is another 0.5 miles further north on the Fuller Ridge Trail, see above.]

The small spring at PCT Mile 183.5 (about 0.4 miles north of Strawberry Junction) continues to flow.

The little spring in the rock crack at Strawberry Cienega (PCT mile 183.0) continues to flow fairly well.

On Devil’s Slide Trail Middle Spring is down to a trickle (just about enough for a dog to get a little water).

On the Ernie Maxwell Trail, the crossing of Chinquapin Creek just below Humber Park continues to flow well.

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