Water conditions 6 July 2018

Yesterday I surveyed several water sources during a botanical hike with my friend Deb Nelson up Marion Mountain Trail to San Jacinto Peak via the PCT and Deer Springs Trail. Also included are observations from a hike up the east side trails to San Jacinto Peak on Sunday 1st July, and in the Tahquitz Peak area on 4th July.

At San Jacinto Peak at 1130 yesterday morning the air temperature was a very warm 67°F (19.4°C), with only 16% relative humidity and virtually no breeze.

Overview Following a couple of questions I have had in recent days, I should reiterate that there is no snow anywhere on the mountain (all trails have been completely clear since early May). Flow rates at all water sources continue to drop every week.

The chance of thunderstorms is forecast almost daily for the next week or so. Any precipitation would be very welcome, but beware of rapidly changing weather conditions in the high country, and the possibility of lightning at/near the high peaks.

Bear sightings I spoke to local homeowners on 4th July who saw two bears together in their upper Fern Valley yard at night in late June. One of these was videoed by an automatic camera at another residence in upper Fern Valley just before midnight on Sunday 24th June. This individual appears to be one of the bears seen all over the mountain in 2017, different from the one we videoed on our property in Idyllwild on 15th May this year, linked to in the San Jacinto Trail Report for 31 May.

EASTERN SLOPE WATER FEATURES

The Round Valley faucet is now flowing very weakly. Flow rate today, 6th July, was 0.10 gallons per minute (down from 0.28 gallons per minute on 15th June). Many thanks to Florian Boyd for this update from Round Valley.

Both the northern and southern springs at Wellman’s Cienega are flowing. Flow rates continue to decline rapidly, and the northern spring continues to be weaker every time I pass by. Without fresh precipitation soon, this spring will be dry by August, which would be unprecedented in the known human history of Wellman’s Cienega. (The northern cienega dried for the first time in recorded history in 2015, and then again in 2016, but not until September-October.)

These springs are the sources for Willow Creek, which is still flowing fairly well where it crosses the Willow Creek Trail.

Tahquitz Valley is completely dry.

Tahquitz Creek continues to flow fairly well at the northern (lower) end of Little Tahquitz Meadow. It is now flowing rather weakly 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). Just after crossing the PCT, the creek dries up and disappears subsurface.

Tahquitz Creek crossing the PCT immediately below Grethe Spring, 29 June 2018

Skunk Cabbage Creek where it flows through Skunk Cabbage Meadow is currently flowing weakly. The water level has not changed markedly in the last couple of weeks.

Skunk Cabbage Creek in Skunk Cabbage Meadow, 29 June 2018

WESTERN SLOPE WATER FEATURES

The North Fork of the San Jacinto River continues to flow gently 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).

North Fork of the San Jacinto River at Deer Springs Trail, 29 June 2018

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

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 – is currently flowing weakly but reliably.

The minor creek crossing on Deer Springs Trail midway between the North Fork of the San Jacinto River crossing and Shooting Star Spring (sometimes known as Rock Spring) may be close to drying completely, and is now dry across and below the trail.

Rock Spring just above Deer Springs Trail, 29 June 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 camp just downslope has been occupied by a crew from the California Conservation Corps (CCC) 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 flow well.

Switchback Spring crossing Deer Springs Trail, 29 June 2018

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

The spring at Strawberry Cienega, 29 June 2018

On Devil’s Slide Trail, Middle Spring is nothing more than a pathetic trickle in the early morning (barely enough for a dog to get a little water), but by afternoon it is dry. This is now the typical daily pattern. Either way, insufficient flow for a hiker to get any water at all.

On the Ernie Maxwell Trail, the crossing of Chinquapin Creek just below Humber Park is now dry across and below the trail (this is an important water source especially for dogs being walked on this trail). On or about 2nd July, Fern Valley Water District started their annual diversion of this creek to their water tanks. However, there is good flowing water just a few yards upstream from the trail, with several small pools for filtering or for dogs to drink. [UPDATE 7 July: on our run up the Maxwell Trail early this morning we were very surprised to find the creek flowing again across the trail. Apparently FVWD have suspended their diversion, so for the time being water is again available right on the trail.]

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