Trail update 6th May 2019

[UPDATE 8th May: we hiked South Ridge to Tahquitz Peak this morning. South Ridge Road was repaired and fully graded yesterday. I have updated the status of the challenging Tahquitz Peak to Chinquapin Flat trail also.]

This morning we briskly hiked to and from San Jacinto Peak via Devil’s Slide Trail and Wellman Divide. Other trails surveyed in recent days were outlined in the previous update three days ago. I recorded a short video at about 0900 this morning just below Miller Peak, available on YouTube. There was some very light rain in Idyllwild this afternoon, totaling 0.26″ at 5550′ elevation, but yet again the high country was above the cloud.

Snowmelt has continued rapidly, with many areas below about 9000′ now clear or largely clear of snow, and sun-exposed slopes below 10,400′ largely clear too. The PCT in the San Jacinto mountains is now safely passable for most hikers without microspikes. Depending on confidence and experience on icy snow, some PCT hikers will still prefer to use microspikes, especially on the north end of Fuller Ridge (about Miles 189-191).

Microspikes are still recommended above 9500′ in many areas, especially descending from San Jacinto Peak, and in particular on the western (Deer Springs Trail) route. We hiked the traverse from Chinquapin Flat (about PCT Mile 178) to Tahquitz Peak on 3rd May and found that it remains challenging even in microspikes.

WEATHER Temperatures this week will be below average for early May, with considerable cloudiness and light precipitation possible on several days, at least at mid-elevations (San Jacinto Peak has been above the cloud for four of the five most recent storms). Light rain at mid elevations and light snow in the high country are most likely on Friday and Saturday (10-11 May) with a few inches of snow possible, mainly above about 8500′.

At San Jacinto Peak (10,810ft/3295m) today, 6th May 2019, at 0830 the air temperature was 29°F (-2°C), with a windchill temperature of 20°F (-7°C), 54% relative humidity, and a very light SSW breeze at 3 mph gusting to 6 mph.

At the Peak on Wednesday 1st May 2019, at 0845 the air temperature was 34°F (1°C), with a windchill temperature of 23.6°F (-5°C), 14% relative humidity, and a brisk West breeze at 12 mph gusting to 17 mph.

TRAIL CONDITIONS

Many trails above about 9000′ remain at least partly snow-covered. Details for specific routes are below. Hikers should be prepared for temperatures at or below freezing in the high country this week (well below freezing when considering windchill effects). All main trails are now well traveled, and have good tracks to follow.

Pacific Crest Trail The trail is clear of snow from Highway 74 (Mile 151) to about Mile 174 (Red Tahquitz) after which the trail is only patchily 20% snow-covered to about Mile 179. There is almost continuous snow either side of Mile 181. Many nobo PCT hikers are missing the hard left uphill turning at Annie’s Junction (approx. Mile 181.5) in the patchy snow.

Fuller Ridge Trail (approx. PCT Miles 186-191) can be traversed without microspikes, although they are useful for those less experienced on angled icy snow. Snow patches are frequent enough to use microspikes for parts of the five mile length of the Fuller Ridge Trail, specifically approx. Miles 187.5-188, and 189-191. Particularly on the northernmost two miles, the track does not follow the trail in places, and there are a couple of steeper descents. PCT hikers not comfortable with angled snow/ice travel could still consider the Black Mountain Road alternative. Fuller Ridge campground (Mile 191) is clear of snow.

San Jacinto Peak trails On the eastern side, the Wellman Trail from Annie’s Junction (PCT turning near Mile 181.5) to Wellman Divide (9700′) is largely clear of snow, but microspikes are useful for descending those areas where stubborn icy snow patches remain. The Peak Trail from Wellman Divide to the Peak is only partly snow-covered and the track now largely follows the trail route, but microspikes remain useful, especially for descending. On the western side, the upper Deer Springs Trail from Little Round Valley to the Peak remains about 80% snow-covered, and note that the consolidated tracks are steep and do not closely follow the trail route. Microspikes are recommended, especially for descending.

Black Mountain Road is clear of snow to the PCT. No microspikes are required to hike to the PCT. Beyond the Fuller Ridge campground turning there are some small snow patches down to about 7300′ elevation. For vehicular access, Black Mountain Road has been cleared, repaired, and partially graded to the turning to Boulder Basin, and cleared and repaired to the Fuller Ridge campground.

Skyline Trail is clear. C2C hikers have not been encountering snow until well past Long Valley Ranger Station.

Devil’s Slide Trail is clear of snow.

Tahquitz meadows trails are largely clear of snow with only occasional patches to cross. No microspikes required.

Deer Springs Trail is clear of snow to Strawberry Junction (8100′) and largely clear to the Seven Pines Trail junction. There is about 70% snow cover from there to the Fuller Ridge Trail junction, and microspikes are useful. The track above the Fuller Ridge junction now more closely follows the trail and there is only about 50% snow cover to Little Round Valley. Through and above Little Round Valley the tracks largely do not approximate to the true trail, and are steep and postholey in places, with about 90% snow cover (microspikes useful again, especially for descending).

Marion Mountain Trail is clear of snow, with just a couple of tiny patches very near the PCT. Microspikes not required.

Tahquitz Peak trail from Chinquapin Flat [UPDATED 8th May] There are some steps to follow through the short (but steep) remaining sections of snow. Microspikes in conjunction with hiking poles (or ideally an ice axe if you know how to use it) remain strongly recommended for this challenging trail until it is clear of snow (likely one to two more weeks).

South Ridge Trail is clear of snow to Tahquitz Peak. South Ridge Road [UPDATED 8th May] was repaired and graded yesterday and is passable to he top to all vehicles.

Peak Trail looking north at 9800′ just above Wellman Divide today 6th May 2019 (above) and the same view two weeks earlier on 22nd April (below).

SNOW DEPTHS measured on various recent dates (as indicated in parentheses) are as follows. Current average depth is given; drifts can be much deeper than the average in places. Altitudes are approximate.

San Jacinto Peak (10,810′): 19″ (on 6th May; was 75″ on 22nd March)

Little Round Valley (9800′): 20″ (on 1st May)

Wellman Divide (9700′): 0″ (but with drifted patches nearby)

Pacific Crest Trail at south end of Fuller Ridge Trail (8950′): 4″ (on 1st May)

Annie’s Junction (PCT Mile 181.5 at State Park boundary) (9050′): 4″ (on 6th May)

Long Valley (8500′): 0″

Strawberry Junction (8100′): 0″

Saddle Junction (8070′): 0″ (was 20″ on 22nd March)

Trail junction sign at south end of Fuller Ridge Trail (8940′) on 1st May 2019 (above) and two weeks earlier on 18th April 2019 for comparison (below)

Snow and trail update 3rd May 2019

Today we hiked to Red Tahquitz (above PCT Mile 174) from home, ascending via Devil’s Slide Trail and the Tahquitz meadows, then returning via Tahquitz Peak and South Ridge. This allowed an assessment of PCT Miles 174-179, an area that traditionally holds stubborn late icy snow patches. Other trails hiked in recent days include San Jacinto Peak via Fuller Ridge Trail and both east and west sides, upper Deer Springs Trail, and Marion Mountain Trail. I recorded a short vlog at about 0900 this morning at Red Tahquitz, available here on YouTube.

Snowmelt has continued rapidly, with almost all areas below about 9000′ now clear or largely clear of snow. The PCT in the San Jacinto mountains is now safely passable for most hikers without microspikes. Depending on confidence and experience on icy snow, some PCT hikers will still prefer to use microspikes, especially on the north end of Fuller Ridge (about Miles 189-191).

Microspikes are still recommended above 9000′ in many areas, especially descending from San Jacinto Peak, in particular on the western (Deer Springs Trail) route. We hiked the traverse from Chinquapin Flat (about PCT Mile 178.5) to Tahquitz Peak this morning and found that it remains challenging even in microspikes. Although this is melting fast, an ice axe and extreme care remain advisable for the next few days at least.

As reported in the previous update, the mix of snow and bare patches seems to have obscured tracks in several places, and I have witnessed and heard stories of folks losing the trail in recent days. As always, snow travel requires cautious navigation.

WEATHER After another warm weekend, the following week (6th-12th May) will have below average temperatures, with considerable cloud and chances of light precipitation on several days, at least at mid-elevations (San Jacinto Peak has been above the cloud for three of the four most recent storms).

At San Jacinto Peak (10,810ft/3295m) on 1st May 2019, at 0845 the air temperature was 34°F (1°C), with a windchill temperature of 23.6°F (-5°C), 14% relative humidity, and a brisk West breeze at 12 mph gusting to 17.4 mph.

At the Peak on 29th April 2019, at 0910 the air temperature was 33°F (1°C), with a windchill temperature of 26.9°F (-3°C), 46% relative humidity, and a light but chilly WSW breeze at 3 mph gusting to 5 mph.

TRAIL CONDITIONS

Many trails above about 9000′ remain largely or partly snow-covered, although this is changing rapidly. Details for specific routes are below. Hikers should be prepared for temperatures at or below freezing in the high country (well below freezing when considering windchill effects). All main trails are now well traveled, and have good tracks.

Pacific Crest Trail The trail is clear of snow from Highway 74 (Mile 151) to about Mile 174 (Red Tahquitz) after which the trail is only 20% snow-covered to about Mile 178. Miles 179-181 and 182-186 are clear of snow. Many nobo PCT hikers are missing the hard left uphill turning at Annie’s Junction (approx. Mile 181.8) in the patchy snow.

Fuller Ridge Trail (approx. PCT Miles 186-191) can be traversed without microspikes, although they are useful for those less experienced on angled icy snow. Snow patches are frequent enough to use microspikes for parts of the five mile length of the Fuller Ridge Trail, specifically Miles 187.5-188, and 189-191. Particularly on the northernmost two miles, the track does not follow the trail in many places, and there are a couple of steep challenging descents. Use caution. PCT hikers not comfortable with angled snow/ice travel could consider the Black Mountain Road alternative. Fuller Ridge campground is clear of snow.

San Jacinto Peak trails On the eastern side, the Wellman Trail from Annie’s Junction (PCT turning near Mile 181.8) to Wellman Divide (9700′) is largely clear of snow, but microspikes are useful on those areas where stubborn icy snow patches remain. The Peak Trail from Wellman Divide to the Peak is now only partly snow-covered and the track now largely follows the trail route, but microspikes remain useful, especially for descending. On the western side, the upper Deer Springs Trail from Little Round Valley to the Peak remains about 90% snow-covered, and note that the consolidated tracks are steep and do not closely follow the trail route. Microspikes are recommended.

Black Mountain Road is clear of snow to the PCT. No microspikes are required to hike to the PCT. Beyond the Fuller Ridge campground turning there are some small snow patches down to about 7200′ elevation. For vehicular access, Black Mountain Road has been cleared, repaired, and partially graded to the turning to Boulder Basin, and cleared and repaired to the Fuller Ridge campground.

Skyline Trail is clear. C2C hikers have not been encountering snow until well past Long Valley Ranger Station.

Devil’s Slide Trail is now completely clear of snow to Saddle Junction.

Tahquitz meadows trails are largely clear of snow with only occasional patches to cross. No microspikes required.

Deer Springs Trail is clear of snow to Strawberry Junction (8100′) and largely clear to the Seven Pines Trail junction. There is about 70% snow cover from there to the Fuller Ridge Trail junction, and microspikes are useful. The track above the Fuller Ridge junction now more closely follows the trail and there is only about 50% snow cover to Little Round Valley. Through and above Little Round Valley the tracks largely do not approximate to the true trail, and are steep and postholey in places, with about 90% snow cover (microspikes useful again, especially for descending).

Marion Mountain Trail is clear of snow, with just a couple of tiny patches very near the PCT. Microspikes are not required.

Tahquitz Peak trail from Chinquapin Flat There are some steps to follow through the snow. Microspikes in conjunction with hiking poles (or ideally an ice axe if you know how to use it) are strongly recommended for this perilous trail until it is completely clear of snow.

South Ridge Trail is clear of snow to Tahquitz Peak. South Ridge Road is clear of snow, but is impassable to vehicles near the top due to severe storm damage.

SNOW DEPTHS measured on various recent dates (as indicated in parentheses) are as follows. Current average depth is given; drifts can be much deeper than the average in places. Altitudes are approximate.

San Jacinto Peak (10,810′): 20″ (on 1st May; was 75″ on 22nd March)

Little Round Valley (9800′): 20″ (on 1st May)

Wellman Divide (9700′): 0″ (but with drifted patches nearby)

Pacific Crest Trail at south end of Fuller Ridge Trail (8950′): 4″ (on 1st May)

Annie’s Junction (PCT Mile 181.5 at State Park boundary) (9050′): 6″

Long Valley (8500′): 0″

Strawberry Junction (8100′): 0″

Saddle Junction (8070′): 0″ (was 20″ on 22nd March)

Trail junction sign at south end of Fuller Ridge Trail (8940′) on 1st May 2019 (above) and two weeks earlier on 18th April 2019 for comparison (below)

Minor storm 29th April 2019

[UPDATE 1st May 2019: we hiked Marion Mountain Trail to San Jacinto Peak this morning. Rapid melting has led to some marked changes to trails and snow depths, which are all updated in the text below.]

Today we hiked to and from San Jacinto Peak via Devil’s Slide Trail and Wellman Divide. Other trails hiked in recent days include Fuller Ridge Trail and upper Deer Springs Trail, Tahquitz Peak via South Ridge and from the PCT, and around Skunk Cabbage and Tahquitz meadows. I recorded a vlog just after 0900 this morning at San Jacinto Peak, available here on YouTube.

In that vlog I mention the ice axe training video that Second Chance Hiker and I just uploaded, which is linked here.

On our ascent there was evidence of a very brief snow storm overnight, with a little graupel remaining above 9000′ to the Peak (see photo below). As we descended this morning, we encountered drizzle around 9000′ and again between 7000′-6000′. As has been the case with other recent precipitation events during the day, the high country has remained largely above the clouds, with some spectacular views as a result. Indeed today it was much colder at 9000′ late morning than at the Peak (10,810′) an hour earlier. It continued drizzling periodically in Idyllwild this afternoon, adding up to 0.28″.

Despite cooler conditions today (and tomorrow morning) melting has been very rapid in the past week – with overall snow coverage much more reminiscent of late May than late April – and with bare patches present and expanding rapidly at all elevations.

This has created new navigation hazards. The five PCT hikers (in three separate groups) I met on the Wellman Trail as I descended this morning had all intended to stay on the PCT but had missed the turning at Annie’s Junction (approx PCT Mile 181.5). The mix of snow and bare patches seems to have obscured the tracks, and hikers had just followed the more heavily-traveled trail straight ahead. As always, snow travel requires cautious navigation.

Microspikes in combination with hiking poles continue to be recommended throughout the high country above about 8800′ (and lower in some areas e.g., north end of Fuller Ridge). Microspikes are sufficient traction to hike the PCT throughout the San Jacinto mountains.

Pre-dawn clouds over Tahquitz Rock and Tahquitz Peak, 28th April 2019.

WEATHER After tomorrow morning, warm stable weather will return, and the first few days of May are forecast to have pleasant seasonal temperatures with no precipitation. However the second week of May will be cooler, cloudy, with the possibility of light precipitation on several days.

At San Jacinto Peak (10,810ft/3295m) today, 29th April 2019, at 0910 the air temperature was 33°F (1°C), with a windchill temperature of 26.9°F (-3°C), 46% relative humidity, and a light but chilly WSW breeze at 3 mph gusting to 5 mph.

At the Peak on 25th April 2019, at 1015 the air temperature was 47.6°F (8°C), with a windchill temperature of 45°F (7°C), 46% relative humidity, and a very light SSE breeze at 1 mph gusting to 4.4 mph.

Remains of a very brief graupel storm overnight in the San Jacinto high country. Where these tiny (1-4mm) snow balls had fallen on bare ground they had already melted, but they remained on top of old March snow, as shown here accumulated in a footprint.

TRAIL CONDITIONS

Many trails above about 8800′ remain largely or partly snow-covered, although this is changing rapidly. Details for specific routes are below. Hikers should be prepared for temperatures near or below freezing in the high country (even colder when considering windchill effects).

Major trails are now well traveled, and have obvious tracks. Routefinding can be challenging in places for those not familiar with the area due to wandering, inaccurate tracks which often do not match the established trail routes, so use caution.

Pacific Crest Trail The trail is clear of snow from Highway 74 (Mile 151) to about Mile 174 (Red Tahquitz) after which the trail is about 70% snow-covered to about Mile 178, but with more snow-free areas opening up every day. Note that navigation through the snow has reported to be a problem around Miles 174-177. Miles 179-181 and 182-185 are clear of snow. Multiple hikers are missing the hard left uphill turning at Annie’s Junction (approx. Mile 181.5) in the patchy snow.

Fuller Ridge Trail (approx. PCT Miles 185.5-190.5) is best traversed carrying microspikes used in conjunction with hiking poles. Snow patches are frequent enough to use microspikes for some of the five mile length of the Fuller Ridge Trail, specifically Miles 185.5-186, 187.2-187.7, and 188.5-190.4. Particularly on the northernmost two miles, the track does not follow the trail in many places, and there are a couple of steep challenging descents where hikers have clearly fallen. Please use caution. PCT hikers not comfortable with angled snow/ice travel should continue to consider the Black Mountain Road alternative. Fuller Ridge campground is clear of snow.

San Jacinto Peak trails On the eastern side, the Wellman Trail from Annie’s Junction (PCT turning near Mile 181.5) to Wellman Divide (9700′) is largely clear of snow, but microspikes are useful on those areas where stubborn icy snow patches remain. The Peak Trail from Wellman Divide to the Peak is now only partly snow-covered and the track now largely follows the trail route, but microspikes remain recommended. On the western side, the upper Deer Springs Trail [UPDATED 1st May] from Little Round Valley to the Peak remains about 90% snow-covered, and note that the consolidated tracks are steep and do not closely follow the trail route. Microspikes are recommended.

Black Mountain Road is clear of snow to the PCT. No microspikes are required to hike to the PCT. Just before the Fuller Ridge campground turning, the road is partly snow-covered at up to 2 feet deep, which continues in patches north of Fuller Ridge down to about 7200′ elevation. For vehicular access, Black Mountain Road has been cleared, repaired, and partially graded to the turning to Boulder Basin, and cleared and repaired to the PCT crossing.

Skyline Trail is clear. C2C hikers have not been encountering snow until past Long Valley Ranger Station.

Devil’s Slide Trail is now completely clear of snow to Saddle Junction.

Deer Springs Trail [UPDATED 1st May] is clear of snow to Strawberry Junction (8100′) and largely clear to the Seven Pines Trail junction. There is about 70% snow cover from there to the Fuller Ridge Trail junction, and microspikes are useful. The track above the Fuller Ridge junction now more closely follows the trail and there is only about 50% snow cover to Little Round Valley. Through and above Little Round Valley the tracks largely do not approximate to the true trail, and are steep and postholey in places, with about 90% snow cover (microspikes useful again, especially for descending).

Marion Mountain Trail [UPDATED 1st May] is clear of snow, with just a couple of tiny patches very near the PCT. Microspikes are not required.

Tahquitz Peak trail from Chinquapin Flat There are reasonable steps to follow through the snow. Microspikes in conjunction with hiking poles (or ideally an ice axe if you know how to use it) are strongly recommended for this perilous trail until it is completely clear of snow.

South Ridge Trail is clear of snow to Tahquitz Peak. South Ridge Road is clear of snow, but is impassable to vehicles near the top due to severe storm damage.

Early morning cloud pouring east over the Desert Divide, from the Peak Trail, 29th April 2019.

SNOW DEPTHS measured on various dates (as indicated) are as follows. Current average depth is given; drifts can be much deeper than the average in places. Altitudes are approximate.

San Jacinto Peak (10,810′): 20″ (on 1st May; was 75″ on 22nd March)

Little Round Valley (9800′): 20″ (on 1st May)

Wellman Divide (9700′): 0″ (but with drifted patches nearby)

Pacific Crest Trail at south end of Fuller Ridge Trail (8950′): 4″ (on 1st May)

Annie’s Junction (PCT Mile 181.5 at State Park boundary) (9050′): 6″

Long Valley (8500′): 0″

Strawberry Junction (8100′): 0″

Saddle Junction (8070′): 0″ (was 20″ on 22nd March)

The Peak Trail at 9800′ just above Wellman Divide, on 29th April 2019 (above) and 17 days earlier on 12th April (below).

Trail junction sign at south end of Fuller Ridge Trail (8940′) on 1st May 2019 (above) and two weeks earlier on 18th April 2019 for comparison (below)

Snow and trail update 25th April 2019

Today I hiked to and from San Jacinto Peak via Fuller Ridge Trail and upper Deer Springs Trail. Other trails hiked in the last few days include San Jacinto Peak from Humber Park and Tahquitz Peak via South Ridge, plus a run to and around the Tahquitz area meadows yesterday.

I recorded a vlog at about 1100 this morning at San Jacinto Peak, available here on YouTube.

Snow conditions underfoot were frankly pretty ugly today. Even before sunrise, snow on Fuller Ridge was not icy hard, and by the afternoon descent it was downright soft and sloppy. Even “waterproof” boots with gaiters struggled to stay dry. Melting has been very rapid in the past week – with overall coverage more reminiscent of late May than late April – and bare patches are present and expanding at all elevations.

Microspikes in combination with hiking poles continue to be recommended throughout the high country above about 8700′ (and lower in some areas e.g., north end of Fuller Ridge). Microspikes are sufficient traction to hike the PCT throughout the San Jacinto mountains.

WEATHER Temperatures at all elevations will be above average for the next three days, with very rapid snow melt continuing. There is cooler weather forecast for early next week, with a chance of light precipitation on Monday 29th April. The first few days of May are forecast to have pleasant seasonal temperatures with no precipitation.

At San Jacinto Peak (10,810ft/3295m) today, 25th April 2019, at 1015 the air temperature was 47.6°F (8°C), with a windchill temperature of 45°F (7°C), 46% relative humidity, and a very light SSE breeze at 1 mph gusting to 4.4 mph.

At the Peak on 22nd April 2019, at 0900 the air temperature was 29°F (-2°C), with a windchill temperature of 11.8°F (-11°C), 55% relative humidity, and a brisk due North wind at 11 mph gusting to 17 mph.

The top of Fuller Ridge has lost more than four feet of snow in less than a month. PCT post on 25th April 2019 (above) and the same post on 27th March (below).

TRAIL CONDITIONS

Many trails above about 8800′ remain largely or partly snow-covered, although this is changing rapidly. Details for specific routes are below. Despite warmer weather overall, hikers should be prepared for temperatures at or below freezing in the high country (and colder when considering windchill effects), especially next week.

Major trails are now well traveled, and have obvious tracks. Routefinding is challenging in places for those not familiar with the area due to wandering, inaccurate tracks which often do not match the established trail routes, so use caution.

Pacific Crest Trail The trail is clear of snow from Highway 74 (Mile 151) to about Mile 174, except for tiny icy patches at Apache Peak, Mile 169.5. Between about Mile 174 and Mile 178, the trail is largely snow-covered, but with more snow-free areas opening up every day. Miles 179-181 and 182-184.5 are clear of snow.

Fuller Ridge Trail (approx. PCT Miles 185.5-190.5) is best traversed carrying microspikes used in conjunction with hiking poles. Snow patches are frequent enough to use microspikes for about half the five mile length of the Fuller Ridge Trail, specifically Miles 185.5-186, 187.2-187.7, and 188.5-190.4. Particularly on the northernmost two miles, the track does not follow the trail in many places, and there are a couple of steep challenging descents where hikers have clearly fallen. Please use caution. PCT hikers not comfortable with angled snow/ice travel should continue to consider the Black Mountain Road alternative. Fuller Ridge campground is clear of snow.

San Jacinto Peak trails On the eastern side, the Wellman Trail from Annie’s Junction (PCT turning at Mile 181.6) to Wellman Divide (9700′) is largely clear of snow, but microspikes are useful on those areas where stubborn icy snow patches remain. The Peak Trail from Wellman Divide to the Peak remains completely snow-covered and microspikes are recommended. There are multiple meandering tracks, most of which do not closely follow the trail route, so some caution with navigation is required. On the western side, the upper Deer Springs Trail from Little Round Valley to the Peak remains almost completely snow-covered, and note that the consolidated tracks are steep and do not closely follow the trail route. Microspikes are strongly recommended.

Black Mountain Road is clear of snow to the PCT. No microspikes are required to hike to the PCT. Just before the Fuller Ridge campground turning, the road is partly snow-covered at up to 2 feet deep, which continues in patches north of Fuller Ridge down to about 7200′ elevation. For vehicular access, Black Mountain Road has been cleared, repaired, and partially graded to the turning to Boulder Basin, and cleared and repaired to the PCT crossing.

Skyline Trail is clear. C2C hikers have not been encountering snow until past Long Valley Ranger Station.

Devil’s Slide Trail is clear of snow, with a couple of tiny icy patches near Saddle Junction.

Deer Springs Trail is clear of snow to Strawberry Junction (8100′). Snow is limited to small patches for the next mile north, before becoming largely continuous near the Marion Mountain Trail junction. The track above the Fuller Ridge junction up to San Jacinto Peak largely does not approximate to the true trail, and is steep and postholey in places.

Marion Mountain Trail is clear of snow to the viewpoint at 7500′. Above that there is only limited patchy snow at about 10% coverage all the way to the PCT at 8700′ elevation. Microspikes are not required for the ascent, but some hikers may find them useful for descending the uppermost 0.5 mile.

Tahquitz Peak trail from Chinquapin Flat [UPDATED Saturday 27th April] There are reasonable steps to follow through the snow. Microspikes in conjunction with hiking poles (or ideally an ice axe if you know how to use it) are strongly recommended for this perilous trail until it is completely clear of snow.

South Ridge Trail is clear of snow to Tahquitz Peak. There are a few tiny snow patches near the Peak, but with very well-defined steps. Microspikes are not required. South Ridge Road is clear of snow, but is impassable to vehicles near the top due to severe storm damage.

Trail junction sign at south end of Fuller Ridge Trail (8940′) on 25th April 2019 (above) and a week earlier on 18th April 2019 for comparison (below)

SNOW DEPTHS measured today (and on earlier dates as indicated) are as follows. Current average depth is given; drifts can be much deeper than the average in places. Altitudes are approximate.

San Jacinto Peak (10,810′): 25″ (75″ on 22nd March)

Little Round Valley (9800′): 22″

Wellman Divide (9700′): 12″ (on 22nd April)

Pacific Crest Trail at south end of Fuller Ridge Trail (8950′): 10″

Pacific Crest Trail at top of Marion Mountain Trail (8700′): 17″ (on 18th April)

Annie’s Junction (PCT at State Park boundary north of Saddle Junction) (9050′): 10″ (on 22nd April)

Long Valley (8500′): 0″

Strawberry Junction (8100′): 0″ but with drifted patches

Saddle Junction (8070′): 0″ but with some drifted patches (20″ on 22nd March)

Trail junction sign at Wellman Divide (9700′) on 22nd April 2019 (above) and on 1st April for comparison (below)

Snow and trail update 22nd April 2019

This morning we hiked to and from San Jacinto Peak via Devil’s Slide Trail and Wellman Divide. In recent days I have hiked South Ridge Trail to Tahquitz Peak, Deer Springs Trail, Marion Mountain Trail, and the southern end of Fuller Ridge Trail. The status of various water sources is largely unchanged from an earlier report (linked here). I recorded the following video at 0910 this morning at San Jacinto Peak.

Just like last Tuesday 16th, there was some brief precipitation later in the day after I recorded the video. In Idyllwild we received 0.1″ of rain in the afternoon, but again the high country was largely above the cloud. Other than continued rapid melting of snow, trail conditions are not substantially changed from last week.

Microspikes in combination with hiking poles continue to be recommended throughout the high country above 8700′ (and lower in some areas e.g., Fuller Ridge). Microspikes are sufficient traction to hike the PCT throughout the San Jacinto mountains.

WEATHER Despite cooler conditions today, temperatures will be at or above average for the foreseeable future, with very rapid snow melt continuing at all elevations. There is no notable precipitation in the forecast before May.

At San Jacinto Peak (10,810ft/3295m) today, 22nd April 2019, at 0900 the air temperature was 29°F (-2°C), with a windchill temperature of 11.8°F (-11°C), 55% relative humidity, and a brisk due North wind at 11 mph gusting to 17 mph.

At the Peak on 18th April 2019, at 0900 the air temperature was 41°F (5°C), with a windchill temperature of 31°F (-1°C), 38% relative humidity, and a cool NE wind at 11 mph gusting to 14 mph.

At the Peak on 16th April 2019 at 0855, the air temperature was 25.5°F (-4°C), with a windchill temperature of 7.7°F (-14°C), 100% relative humidity, and a bitter due West wind at 10 mph gusting to 26 mph.

TRAIL CONDITIONS

Many trails above about 8700′ remain largely or partly snow-covered, although this is changing rapidly. Details for specific routes are below. Despite warmer weather overall, hikers should be prepared for temperatures at or near freezing in the high country (and colder when considering windchill effects).

Many major trails are now well traveled, and have obvious, consolidated tracks. Routefinding is challenging in places for those not familiar with the area due to wandering, inaccurate tracks which often do not match the established trail routes, so use caution.

Pacific Crest Trail The trail is clear of snow from Highway 74 (Mile 151) to about Mile 174, except for some small icy snow patches at Apache Peak, Mile 169.5. Some hikers will find microspikes useful for that area, although it is now passable without spikes for those experienced on angled snow travel in appropriate footwear. Between about Mile 174 and Mile 178, the trail averages about 90% snow-covered, but with more snow-free areas opening up every day. Miles 179-181 and 182-184.5 are largely free of snow.

Fuller Ridge Trail (PCT Miles 185.5-190.5) is best traversed with microspikes and at least hiking poles. The short sections that face south and on top of the ridge are now largely snow-free, but the majority of the trail remains snow-covered and is challenging in places. PCT hikers not comfortable with angled snow/ice travel should continue to consider the Black Mountain Road alternative.

San Jacinto Peak trails On the eastern side, the Wellman Trail from Annie’s Junction (PCT turning at Mile 181.6) to Wellman Divide (9700′) is largely clear of snow, but microspikes are useful on those areas where stubborn icy snow patches remain. The Peak Trail from Wellman Divide to the Peak remains completely snow-covered and microspikes are recommended. There are multiple meandering tracks, most of which do not closely follow the trail route, so some caution with navigation is required. On the western side, the upper Deer Springs Trail from Little Round Valley to the Peak remains almost completely snow-covered, and note that the consolidated tracks are steep and do not closely follow the trail route. Microspikes are strongly recommended.

Black Mountain Road is clear of snow to the PCT/Fuller Ridge campground. No microspikes are required to hike to the PCT. Beyond the Fuller Ridge campground turning, the road is partly snow-covered at up to 2 feet deep down to about 7200′ elevation. Black Mountain Road has been graded and is now passable to vehicles to the PCT crossing near Fuller Ridge campground.

Skyline Trail is clear of snow to about 7200′. Microspikes are useful but not essential above that elevation. There is an obvious track to follow through the short snow-covered patches.

Devil’s Slide Trail is clear of snow, with a couple of tiny icy patches near the top.

Deer Springs Trail is clear of snow to Strawberry Junction (8100′). Snow is limited to small patches for the next mile north, before becoming largely continuous near the Marion Mountain Trail junction. The track above the Fuller Ridge junction up to San Jacinto Peak largely does not approximate to the true trail, and is steep and postholey in places.

Marion Mountain Trail is clear of snow to the viewpoint at 7500′. Above that there is only patchy snow at about 20% coverage all the way to the PCT at 8700′ elevation. Microspikes are not required for the ascent, but are useful for descending the uppermost 0.5 mile.

Tahquitz Peak trail from Chinquapin Flat remains very treacherous. There are no tracks or steps to follow. Crampons in conjunction with an ice axe are strongly recommended for this section. It is possible to pass between the PCT and Tahquitz Peak along the top of Tahquitz Ridge with caution.

South Ridge Trail is clear of snow to Tahquitz Peak. There are a few small snow patches near the Peak, but with very well-defined steps. Microspikes are not required. South Ridge Road is clear of snow, but is impassable near the top due to severe storm damage.

SNOW DEPTHS measured today (and on 18th April as indicated) are as follows. Current average depth is given; drifts can be much greater than the average depth. Altitudes are approximate.

San Jacinto Peak (10,810′): 25″ (75″ on 22nd March)

Little Round Valley (9800′): 24″ (on 18th April)

Wellman Divide (9700′): 12″ (43″ on 22nd March)

Pacific Crest Trail at south end of Fuller Ridge Trail (8950′): 20″ (on 18th April)

Pacific Crest Trail at top of Marion Mountain Trail (8700′): 17″ (on 18th April)

Annie’s Junction (PCT at State Park boundary north of Saddle Junction) (9050′): 10″ (34″ on 22nd March)

Long Valley (8500′): 0″

Strawberry Junction (8100′): 1″ (on 18th April)

Saddle Junction (8070′): 0″ but with some drifted patches (20″ on 22nd March)

Trail junction sign at Wellman Divide (9700′) on 22nd April 2019 (above) and on 1st April for comparison (below)

Snow and trail update 18th April 2019

[ACCESS UPDATE: Caltrans has announced that starting Saturday 21st April there will be limited access on Highway 74 between Mountain Center and Hemet, in two time windows 0500-0800 and 1800-0000.]

This morning we hiked Marion Mountain and Deer Springs trails to San Jacinto Peak. Two days earlier we hiked to and from San Jacinto Peak via Devil’s Slide Trail and Wellman Divide, in damp, cloudy, windy conditions.

Road access issues and the status of various water sources were updated last week (linked here) and will only be revised when there are noteworthy changes to report.

I recorded the following video on 16th April at San Jacinto Peak.

Shortly after I recorded the video, we were very briefly snowed on as we descended through 10,000′, just some tiny rounded grains that completely failed to accumulate. In Idyllwild we received barely 0.02″ of drizzle, mainly in the afternoon, when the high country was above the cloud. Trail and snow conditions are largely unchanged from last week, other than some continued melting.

Microspikes in combination with hiking poles continue to be recommended throughout the high country above 8500′ (and lower in some areas, e.g., Fuller Ridge). Microspikes are sufficient to hike all of the PCT in the San Jacinto mountains at present.

WEATHER After a very brief reminder of winter on 16th, summer returned the next day. Temperatures will be above (or well above) average for the foreseeable future, with very rapid snow melt continuing at all elevations. There is no notable precipitation in the forecast.

At San Jacinto Peak (10,810ft/3295m) today, 18th April 2019, at 0900 the air temperature was 41°F (5°C), with a windchill temperature of 31°F (-1°C), 38% relative humidity, and a cool NE wind at 11 mph gusting to 14 mph.

At the Peak on 16th April 2019 at 0855, the air temperature was 25.5°F (-4°C), with a windchill temperature of 7.7°F (-14°C), 100% relative humidity, and a bitter due West wind at 10 mph gusting to 26 mph.

At the Peak on Friday 12th April 2019 at 0910, the air temperature was 22°F (-6°C), with a windchill temperature of 3.8°F (-16°C), 55% relative humidity, and a moderate due North wind at 8 mph gusting to 18 mph.

TRAIL CONDITIONS

Many trails above about 8700′ remain largely snow-covered, although this is changing rapidly. Details for specific routes are below. Despite warmer weather overall, hikers should be prepared for temperatures at or near freezing in the high country (and colder when considering windchill effects).

Waterproof footwear is useful on approach trails (e.g., Devil’s Slide, lower Deer Springs) due to multiple stream crossings and considerable water flowing in the trails. It will also be invaluable for the next few weeks in soft melting snow.

Many major trails are now well traveled, and have obvious, consolidated tracks. Routefinding is challenging in places for those not familiar with the area due to wandering, inaccurate tracks however, so use caution. Some PCT marker posts above 8500′ remain snow-covered.

Pacific Crest Trail The trail is clear of snow from Highway 74 (Mile 151) to about Mile 173, except for the challenging area at Apache Peak, Mile 169.5. Most hikers will find microspikes useful for that area, although it is now passable without spikes for those experienced on angled snow travel in appropriate footwear. Between about Mile 174 and Mile 191, much of the trail averages about 80% snow-covered, but with more snow-free areas opening up every day. Miles 179-181 and 182-184.5 are largely free of snow.

Fuller Ridge Trail is best traversed with microspikes and at least hiking poles. The short sections that face south and on top of the ridge are now largely snow-free, but the majority of the trail remains snow-covered and challenging. PCT hikers not comfortable with angled snow/ice travel should continue to consider the Black Mountain Road alternative.

Black Mountain Road is clear of snow until about 7000′ (5 miles up). From the Boulder Basin junction to the PCT/Fuller Ridge campground (miles 5 to 8) there is only about 10% snow cover. No microspikes are required to hike to the PCT. Note that Black Mountain Road is currently accessible to vehicles to about 4.5 miles up from Highway 243. Beyond the Fuller Ridge campground turning, the road is continuously snow-covered at 1-3 feet deep down to about 7000′ elevation. Black Mountain Road is being graded over the next ten days, and should be passable to vehicles (at least to Fuller Ridge) by about 25th April.

Skyline Trail is clear of snow to 7200′. Microspikes and hiking poles are sufficient above that elevation, although an ice axe (if you know how to use it) could be useful on the traverse chutes. There is an obvious track to follow through the snow-covered section.

Devil’s Slide Trail is clear of snow, with short icy snow patches near Saddle Junction.

Deer Springs Trail is clear of snow to Strawberry Junction (8100′). Snow is limited to patches for the next mile north, before becoming continuous near the Marion Mountain Trail junction. The track above the Fuller Ridge junction up to San Jacinto Peak largely does not approximate to the true trail, and is steep and postholey in places.

Marion Mountain Trail is clear of snow to the viewpoint at 7500′. Above that there is only patchy snow at about 20% coverage all the way to the PCT at 8700′ elevation. Microspikes are not required for the ascent, but are useful for descending the uppermost 0.5 mile.

Tahquitz Peak trail from Chinquapin Flat remains very treacherous. There are no tracks or steps to follow. Crampons in conjunction with an ice axe are very strongly recommended for this section. It is possible to pass between the PCT and Tahquitz Peak along the top of Tahquitz Ridge with caution.

South Ridge Trail is almost completely clear of snow to Tahquitz Peak. Above Old Lookout Flat (7800′) there are occasional snow patches, mainly near the Peak, but with very well-defined steps. Microspikes are not required. South Ridge Road is clear of snow, but is impassable near the top due to severe storm damage.

SNOW DEPTHS measured on 16th and 18th April are as follows. Current average depth is given; drifts can be much greater than the average depth. Altitudes are approximate.

San Jacinto Peak (10,810′): 28″ (75″ on 22nd March)

Little Round Valley (9800′): 24″

Wellman Divide (9700′): 16″ (43″ on 22nd March)

Pacific Crest Trail at south end of Fuller Ridge Trail (8950′): 20″

Pacific Crest Trail at top of Marion Mountain Trail (8700′): 17″

Annie’s Junction (PCT at State Park boundary north of Saddle Junction) (9050′): 14″ (34″ on 22nd March)

Long Valley (8500′): 0.5″

Strawberry Junction (8100′): 1″

Saddle Junction (8070′): 2″ (20″ on 22nd March)

Trail junction sign at Wellman Divide (9700′) on 16th April 2019 (above) and on 1st April (below)

Trail update 12th April 2019

This morning we hiked to San Jacinto Peak via Devil’s Slide Trail and Wellman Divide, descending the same way. The past few days have included hikes on the north and south ends of Fuller Ridge, Black Mountain Road, Deer Springs Trail, and Spitler and Apache peaks.

Detailed trail conditions are discussed below, with measured snow depths at the foot of this post. Road access issues and the status of various water sources were updated earlier this week (linked here) and for the foreseeable future will only be revised when there are noteworthy changes to report.

I recorded the following vlog this morning at San Jacinto Peak.

Microspikes in combination with hiking poles (or in some situations an ice axe if you know how to use it) continue to be recommended throughout the high country. Microspikes are sufficient to hike all of the PCT in the San Jacinto mountains at present.

WEATHER Temperatures will be at or above average for the foreseeable fuure, with extensive snow melt continuing at all elevations. There is no notable precipitation in the forecast.

At San Jacinto Peak (10,810ft/3295m) today 12th April 2019 at 0910, the air temperature was 22°F (-6°C), with a windchill temperature of 3.8°F (-16°C), 55% relative humidity, and a due North wind at 8 mph gusting to 18 mph.

At the Peak on Monday 8th April at 0905 the air temperature was 49°F (9°C), with a windchill temperature of 48°F (9°C), 19% relative humidity, and a barely discernible West breeze at 2 mph gusting to 4 mph.

California Milkmaids (Cardamine californica) of a pink flowered form, Spitler Peak Trail, 9th April 2019.

TRAIL CONDITIONS

Most trails above about 8500′ remain largely snow-covered. Trail conditions will continue to change rapidly with more melting. Details for specific routes are below. Despite warmer weather overall, hikers should still be prepared for temperatures near freezing in the high country (and colder when considering windchill effects).

Waterproof footwear is useful on approach trails (e.g., Devil’s Slide, lower Deer Springs) due to multiple stream crossings and considerable water flowing in the trails. It is also invaluable in the soft melting snow in many areas, especially after mid-morning.

Many major trails have been well traveled in the past week, so they have obvious, well consolidated tracks. Routefinding is challenging in places for those not familiar with the area due to wandering, inaccurate tracks however, so use caution. Some signage above about 8500′ remains snow-covered, including PCT marker posts.

Pacific Crest Trail The trail is clear of snow from Highway 74 (Mile 151) to about Mile 173, except for the challenging section at Mile 169.5, discussed in detail a few days ago. Between about Mile 174 and Mile 191, much of the trail averages 90% snow-covered, but with more snow-free areas opening up every day. Miles 180-181 and 182-184 are now largely free of snow.

Fuller Ridge Trail should not be attempted without microspikes and at least hiking poles. Significant sections remain challenging. PCT hikers not familiar with angled snow/ice travel should consider the Black Mountain Road alternative to Fuller Ridge, at least for the next few days.

Black Mountain Road is clear of snow until about 7000′ (5 miles up). From the Boulder Basin junction to the PCT/Fuller Ridge campground (miles 5 to 8) there is only about 10% snow cover. No microspikes are required to hike to the PCT. Note that Black Mountain Road is currently accessible to vehicles to about 4.5 miles up from Highway 243. Beyond the Fuller Ridge campground turning, the road is continuously snow-covered at 1-3 feet deep down to about 7000′ elevation.

Skyline Trail is clear of snow to 7200′. Microspikes and hiking poles are sufficient above that elevation, although an ice axe (if you know how to use it) could be useful on the traverse chutes. There is an obvious track to follow through the snow-covered section.

Devil’s Slide Trail is clear of snow, with a short icy snow section near Saddle Junction.

Deer Springs Trail is clear of snow to Strawberry Junction (8100′), except for a few tiny patches near the Junction. Snow is limited to patches for the next mile north, before becoming continuous near the Marion Mountain Trail junction. The track above the Fuller Ridge junction up to San Jacinto Peak does not approximate to the true trail, and is steep and postholey in places.

Marion Mountain Trail has been hiked and has a reasonable track to follow. Snow is patchy above about 7600′ and is nearly continuous above about 8300′.

Tahquitz Peak trail from Chinquapin Flat remains very treacherous. Last week I made the first traverse of this trail for several weeks. There are no tracks or steps to follow. Crampons in conjunction with an ice axe are very strongly recommended for this section. It is possible to pass between the PCT and Tahquitz Peak along the top of Tahquitz Ridge with caution.

Ernie Maxwell Trail is clear of snow.

South Ridge Trail is almost completely clear of snow to Tahquitz Peak. Above Old Lookout Flat (7800′) there are occasional snow patches, mainly near the Peak, but with very well-defined steps. Microspikes are not required. South Ridge Road is clear of snow, but is impassable near the top due to severe storm damage.

SNOW DEPTHS measured today are as follows, with additional data from 8th April included. Total depth is given. Drifts can be much greater than the average depth. Altitudes are approximate.

San Jacinto Peak (10,810′): 35″ (75″ on 22nd March)

Little Round Valley (9800′): 34″ on 8th April

Wellman Divide (9700′): 19″ (43″ on 22nd March)

Pacific Crest Trail at south end of Fuller Ridge Trail (8950′): 30″ on 8th April

Pacific Crest Trail at top of Marion Mountain Trail (8700′): 25″ on 8th April

Annie’s Junction (PCT at State Park boundary north of Saddle Junction) (9050′): 15″ (34″ on 22nd March)

Strawberry Junction (8100′): 2″ on 8th April

Saddle Junction (8070′): 3″ (20″ on 22nd March)

Peak Trail at 9800′ above Wellman Divide today 12th April 2019 (above) and on 1st April (below).