I have continued to ascend San Jacinto Peak daily this month, by as many diverse routes as possible. This morning for example I started my hike on Fuller Ridge Trail. Following the great work of the PCT Section B Trail Crew last week, this trail is completely free of obstacles for the first time in years. Key pieces of news are as follows.
The snow has virtually gone. It is now possible to ascend the Peak by several different routes without putting a foot on snow. The couple of persistent on-trail areas where tiny patches of snow remain – mainly Little Round Valley and East Ridge – are described briefly below. Obviously additional traction (e.g., microspikes) is no longer required in the San Jacinto high country.
The Pacific Crest Trail remains open at the rockslide near Antsell Rock (Mile 172.5). USFS informed me yesterday that an explosives team has been requested for later in the year. Obviously that work will close the trail for some considerable time in due course. Hikers continue to let me know that the video report from late May (available here) is useful for deciding whether to try to scramble around the rockslide.
The rehabilitation of Apache Spring Trail is being completed this week by an ACE (American Conservation Experience) crew. This is great news as this side trail off the PCT had been indistinct since the 2013 Mountain Fire. The average gradient has also been lowered slightly.
Another ACE crew started work yesterday on Devil’s Slide Trail, dealing with the minor rockfall areas caused by this winter and the flood event on Valentine’s Day.
Dark Canyon Road remains closed, apparently due to a combination of flood damage (see photos in prior report) and plague reported in the ground squirrel population in that area (the latter has become an annual event). Dark Canyon campground is therefore also closed, and there is no vehicular access to Seven Pines trailhead (although the road is hikeable of course).
The Boulder Basin and Black Mountain Group campgrounds remain closed until at least late July. They have a revised tentative reopening date of 25th July.
The status of various water sources was updated in a previous report. While there has been no dramatic change since then, I have noticed decreases in flow rates in most creeks and springs in the past week or so. Also, the Round Valley pipe had a new spigot added last week.
Be rattlesnake aware. The San Jacinto form of the Southern Pacific Rattlesnake is the second most dangerous animal in the high country (after your fellow human beings). They have a neurotoxic venom, which is considerably more life-threatening than the haemotoxic venom of many lower elevation rattlesnakes. They are now active, especially below 9000′ elevation (and Anabel and I encountered one at 9100′ yesterday).
WEATHER Temperatures have been a few degrees cooler in recent days – 12th June was the warmest day of the year so far in the high country – and look set to remain that way for the rest of June. On average this has been the coolest June in Idyllwild and in the high country for several years. No precipitation is in the forecast.
At San Jacinto Peak (10,810’/3295m) today 20th June 2019 at 1045, the air temperature was 49°F (10°C), with a windchill temperature of 45.3°F (8°C), 47% relative humidity, and a cool due West wind at 9 mph gusting to 18.4 mph.
At the Peak yesterday 19th June 2019 at 0855, the air temperature was 50.1°F (10°C), with a windchill temperature of 43.7°F (6°C), 43% relative humidity, and a brisk NE wind sustained at 7 mph, gusting to 17.0 mph.
The coolest day at the Peak since 9th June was on Tuesday 18th June, when at 0855 the air temperature was 45.1°F (7°C), with a windchill temperature of 35.2°F (2°C), 60% relative humidity, and a stiff NE wind of 16 mph gusting to 20.9 mph.
The Pacific Crest Trail, including Fuller Ridge, is clear of snow throughout the San Jacinto mountains. Water is currently abundant and widespread.
Deer Springs Trail There are only tiny snow patches through Little Round Valley but it is snow-free from there to San Jacinto Peak. The campsites in LRV are now snow-free.
Tahquitz Peak trail from the PCT/ Chinquapin Flat is clear of snow.
East Ridge Trail from near Miller Peak to San Jacinto Peak remains 20% snow-covered, with some drifted areas still 2-3 feet deep, but it is largely possible to follow the trail route.
Round Valley trail to Wellman Divide is now clear of snow.
Devil’s Slide, South Ridge, Willow Creek, Marion Mountain, Seven Pines, Ernie Maxwell, High, Long Valley, and Skyline trails are all clear of snow.
Note that as of 5th June, Willow Creek Trail has 27 trees down on the trail between Saddle Junction and Hidden Divide, making it slow going and a little hazardous in places. The relevant agencies have been notified.
I surveyed Seven Pines Trail on behalf of the State Park last week, and it has 35 trees down, almost all above 7500′ elevation. This trail has been very lightly traveled for many months, and is indistinct in places. Hikers without considerable prior experience of this trail should take great care with routefinding.
South Ridge Road is clear and has been graded, but may require 4WD very near the top due to mud.
Black Mountain Road is easily passable, albeit a little bumpy in places, through to at least Fuller Ridge campground.
A reminder that the Caramba Trail from near Reeds Meadow through Laws Camp to Caramba is not maintained. When USFS reopened the trail in November 2018 they made it clear that it would not be maintained for the foreseeable future (and it had been closed since the Mountain Fire in July 2013). The trail is indistinct in places, and hikers without considerable prior experience of this trail should exercise very cautious navigation.