December 2011
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Mt. San Jacinto - New Years Eve

I have had hiking to the top of Mt. San Jacinto on my list of things to do for 2011. The idea was to get to the three tallest peaks, which are in three different mountain ranges in the year of my 50th birthday. Mt. San Jacinto was the last.

Yesterday I committed myself to going today. It was the last day of the year and New Year’s Eve. The weather had been warm and I was hoping that all the snow we received a couple of weeks ago would be manageable.

Jacob and I left the house at 6:30 AM and departed for the Palm Springs Tram. We arrived in time to be on the first car to the top.

The ride up was nice. It has been years since I have been on the tram. As we got closer you could star to see patches of snow. From the tram station at the top, we could see that there was snow everywhere. We spent about 20 minutes letting our bodies’ acclimate to the higher elevation. It was probably purely a psychological thing.

We decided to hit the trail. As we descended from the tam station to the floor of long valley, I thought, we are going to have to climb back up this when we get back. It was a steep path. As we made our way towards the peak it was obvious that we would see snow the whole way there.

People with snowshoes had compacted the snow to form a trail on top of the snow.

However, it was a fairly common occurrence for me to post hole, that is where by foot breaks through the crust of the snow and sinks a foot or more.

We continued on and happen to follow someone that had been to the peak before. They were faster than us and we soon found ourselves off the trail and in some deep snow. We made our way down the side of the mountain to the trail, sometimes sinking two feet or more in the snow. Jacob stepped off a rock, sank about three feet and fell forward. His imprint in the snow did not look much like a snow angel. In fact he was stuck and needed a hand getting back up. Nothing like plopping into two plus feet of powder snow with your head pointed downhill.

Jacob took a nice photo at the top. You can see some of the holes from people’s feet in the snow.

We also got a good picture of Mt. San Gorgonio across the valley below. That was the peak I hiked for my 50th birthday.

We also took a picture showing Diamond Valley Lake. It looks like I need a little more practice in making sure the horizon is level. The reality is that it was so bright, I could not see the LCD display on the camera on my phone.

I got a good picture of Jacob resting at the top.

I had to get the obligatory picture of myself on the top. The wind was blowing and it was somewhat cold.

We went around the other side of the rock on the top and got something to eat before we raced back down to beat the crowd waiting to go down the tram. We still did take time to get some pictures in. Jacob liked the picture of the stream.

As it was, we made it back to Long Valley about 4:15. We were told that after 4:30 there is about an hour wait to get on a tram back down the hill. We marched up the pathway to the tram passing people with the last bits of energy we had. We got in the line and soon it was growing behind us. We were lucky that we only had to wait for a couple of trams to get back down to the truck.

Overall, it was a beautiful day. The hike was great. Jacob realized on the way home that it was New Years Eve. He told me that he thought the only reason that we went hiking was to wear him out so that he would not stay up to midnight. Nine o’clock is sounding great for a bedtime.

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