I hiked to San Jacinto Peak on the morning of Wednesday 5th (to get some “before storm” photos), and snowshoed up and back today in spectacular conditions. Special thanks to Kyle Eubanks for reporting snow conditions as he descended the west side (while I ascended the east).
The latest Trail Report video:
We got a good storm! Literally the best snowfall up here in two years. All mid- and high-elevation trails are snow-covered at present. Snow accumulated above about 7000′ elevation (see details below). There was about 7-8″ of new snow at 8000′, and around 12″ at and above 9000′.
Snowshoes are useful above about 8000′, and strongly recommended above 9000′.
Microspikes are recommended on all trails above about 6500′ elevation at this time.
Hikers should be prepared for temperatures at or below freezing above about 7000′ (at lower elevations on some days), and below freezing at the highest elevations (well below freezing when considering windchill effects). (See weather data below.)
Measured snow depths are as follows. These are total depths, (including the existing snow from the storm last week). These are averages, deeper wind-blown drifts will be encountered, especially at higher elevatons.
Eastern side: Wellman Divide 22″, Annie’s Junction 18″ (State Park boundary north of Saddle Junction), Saddle Junction 11″, Humber Park 0.5″.
Western side: Strawberry Junction 8″, Marion Mountain Trail (top) 12″, Fuller Ridge Trail at junction with Deer Springs 14″, Little Round Valley 18″.
San Jacinto Peak: 24-30″.
Weather It started snowing lightly at 1000 on Wednesday as I descended past Wellman Divide. It rained almost continuously in Idyllwild from Wednesday morning to Thursday night, for a total of 1.88″ at 5550′ elevation. The weather system was unusually warm, so snowfall was confined to above 7500′ until Thursday night when it descended to 6500′ (but left very little snow at that elevation).
At San Jacinto Peak today, Friday 7th December, at 1030 the air temperature was 21°F (-8°C), with a windchill temperature of 5.8°F (-15°C), 100% relative humidity, and a moderate 12 mph NNE wind gusting to at least 14 mph.
At the Peak on Wednesday 5th December, at 0915 the air temperature was 27.7°F (-3°C), with a windchill temperature of 10°F (-13°C), 48% relative humidity, and a strong 18 mph SW wind gusting to 26 mph.
The bad news is that unusually warm (for December) conditions are forecast for much of the next week or so. Melting was already rapid as I descended below 9000′, and Kyle reported that on lower Deer Springs Trail “the whole trail was a river”. Considerable melting at the lower elevations that currently have snow, and in areas that are exposed to direct sun, is to be expected.
Photos: (above) the view from San Jacinto Peak towards Jean Peak and Marion Mountain on Wednesday morning 5th December, and (below) the same view today.
Photos: (above) the trail junction sign at Wellman Divide (9700′) on Wednesday morning 5th December, and (below) the same view today, 7th December.
Photos: (above) the north spring at Wellman’s Cienega on Wednesday morning 5th December, and (below) the same view today, 7th December.