There was a heavier-than-forecast snowfall everywhere above about 5000′ overnight. I hiked to San Jacinto Peak yesterday from home via South Ridge Trail, Tahquitz Peak, Saddle Junction, and Wellman Divide, then descended late this morning to Humber Park. Many thanks to Kyle Eubanks who joined me up top, and provided the snow depths for Round and Long valleys on his descent. Credit to the only other people I saw in the high country all day, Monica and Kham, two energetic young ladies who had postholed to Annie’s Junction (9100′). They said very nice things about the Trail Report, including that it had inspired them to come out hiking in the snow today. I recorded the following vlog at San Jacinto Peak late this morning.
Very fine light snow started at about 1300 yesterday afternoon in the high country, continuing all night, and finally stopping just after sunrise. In Idyllwild at 5550′, we had about 0.25″ rain, followed by 2.0″ snow.
Microspikes are useful, but not essential, on all trails above about 6000′ at this time (see snow depth details below). Snowshoes are currently very useful everywhere above about 8000′. This will continue for at least a couple of days until melting and compacting by foot traffic makes microspikes more practical. There is already rapid melting occurring below 7000′, and this will likely extend higher in the next few days as mild temperatures are forecast.
Hikers should be prepared for temperatures at or below freezing in the high country (>8000′ elevation), and well below freezing at the high peaks (with possible severe cold when considering windchill effects).
Note that during the federal government shutdown, the U.S. Forest Service Idyllwild Ranger Station is closed. Adventure passes and wilderness permits are not required (or at least unenforceable) until the shutdown ends. Please note that Humber Park is being patrolled by the Forest Service Law Enforcement Officer during the shutdown (I had a chat with him there today).
Weather Most of the coming week will be relatively mild, with considerable melting likely below 8000′ and on sun-exposed slopes. Starting on Friday night, further precipitation is forecast at all elevations in the period 12th-15th January. Currently, snowfall in the high country is forecast to be concentrated in the early morning of Saturday 12th and again overnight on Sunday 13th to Monday 14th.
At San Jacinto Peak today, Sunday 6th January 2019, at 0730 the air temperature was 15.8°F (-9°C), with a windchill temperature of -5.8°F (-21°C), 100% relative humidity, and a sharp 15 mph WSW wind gusting to 25.6 mph.
By way of remarkable contrast, at the Peak on Thursday 3rd January, at 0840 the air temperature was 36°F (2°C), with a windchill temperature of 29.3°F (-2°C), 20% relative humidity, and a mellow 4 mph NNE wind gusting to 6.4 mph.
Measured snow depths are as follows. The first number is new accumulation measured today, the second (in parentheses) is the maximum depth at that location including the existing snow from earlier storms. Very strong winds have led to extreme drifting, often double the reported depth in places. Note that with so much melting between storms this winter, the deepest snow is very patchy, and at all elevations there were bare areas until last night. Altitudes are approximate.
San Jacinto Peak (10,810′): 12″ (22″), with drifts of 30-40″ on East Ridge
Wellman Divide (9700′): 8″ (14″)
Round Valley (9100′): 9″ (13″)
Annie’s Junction (State Park boundary north of Saddle Jn) (9050′): 8″ (14″)
Long Valley (8500′): 6″ (8″).
Saddle Junction (8100′): 7″ (8″)
Humber Park (6500′): 4″ (4″)