21 July 2014

Hiking trip to Tahquitz Peak

July 2013

Did finally an overnight hiking trip. This was just a preparation trip to bit a longer one coming soon.

Tahquitz Peak and Tahquitz Valley belong to San Bernardino National Forest, just neighboring San Jacinto State Park. Permission for overnights were given by US Forest. The peak was about 2700 meters, whereas neighboring San Jacinto was on above 3000 meters.  Snow was all gone a long time ago.

Starting point was at Humber Park on Idyllwild, about 1900 meters high. At trailhead, a Ranger checked our permission about a) to allow to hike on Devils Slide Trail, b) overnight permission (and specifically on which region) and c) wrote another form to allow using a stove. All these on paper. Stamps and signatures and off we went.

Temperature was above 20C early in the morning and promised to go up to nearly 30C, cooling down again below 20C during the night. What's more, it was a super moon night.

This trip was about to test some new equipment, therefore backpack felt a bit too heavy.  Another bad thing regarding weight was the fact to carry all liquid, there were no creeks or ponds up there to filter some water.  These things limited trip to two days only.  This was not a bear neighborhood so bear canisters were left at home.

Devils Slide Trail was in good condition but closely looking steeper sections on slopes there were lots of lose rocks and dead trees. Felt a bit dangerous, some might roll down.

Once arrived at Saddle Junction, continued Pacific Crest Trail (PCT) towards south to Tahquitz Peak.

Helicopter circled near Lily Rock, a massive rock famous for rock climbing. That couldn't be good news. Continued straight to a Lookout, a cabin occupied by volunteer Rangers on Tahquitz Peak.

Friendly Rangers guided history of the hut, equipment they used and explained tasks they usually did while staying there. It's more or less about spotting wild fires on time.  New technology hadn't arrived there either, as old school equipment stayed in the middle of the floor.

Snacks and other easy stuff filled lunch.

Back on trail and continued Chinquapin Flat. Descending first towards Little Tahquitz Valley and then Tahquitz Valley. Live pine forest with some really tall pine trees changed to a dead tree forest.  Surprisingly the dead forest was most alive what came to animals. Birds competing in singing, hundreds of ground squirrels and some other mammals.

Both valleys had some green grass but no source of water. The PCT water source www-site hinted these creeks having some water until end of May.

Looping back to Saddle Junction it was about time to search for a good camping site. Few other hikers gave good tip, go up the PCT and choose a place near the edge.  Found a good spot, set up tents and circled surroundings.

Another helicopter landed on a feet of Lily Rock.  Bad news was learnt on the following day.

Exchanged sights with a Mule Deer a while until it jumped beautifully behind rocks.

Time for a dinner. Also time to taste dry meals made on new continent. Not too bad actually.  A stove was quick enough and easy to use.  Calculating the amount of water left told how long hike one could do on the next day, it was almost full day ahead.

Couldn't pitch the tent well enough. Had left better stakes at home. Luckily wind stayed calm enough during the night. Used inner net to escape from mosquitos, turned out to be good decision. Had setup the tent with two poles together with short pole jacks. Two pole system turned out to be a good solution, leaving more space in the middle.

Didn't see glimpse of the super moon in the evening and went to sleep under new bag. At first a bit too warm but soon more comfortable.

Woke at night. Rays of moonlight reached inside the tent.  Grabbed a camera and set it up on top of a small rock. 3-6 sec exposures with aperture flat open.  Not a good moment to take photos of starry sky when a too bright moon brightened the sky.  However, the moon brought nice shadows though.

Staying on 2400 meters above sea level, listening wind on pine trees, watching some city lights down in the valley, enjoying scenery on moonlight. Not bad, not bad at all.

In the morning backed up the stuff. Noticed backpack had had some damage (emailed manufacturer day after and a new pack was on post, yet another good service). Dry air proved there was no condensed in the tent, completely dry, just fantastic.

Early morning breakfast. Dark coffee, scrambled eggs and some rye bread.

Continued hiking back to Saddle Junction via the PCT. From there stayed on the PCT and ascended up to the border of the Wilderness State Park and the US Forest. At the same point, the PCT turned to left towards Strawberry Junction. Trail to right (or straight) would have continued to San Jacinto Peak.

Last check of water and started to descend.  One more stop at Saddle Junction. Dark roast coffee with some biscuits and snacks. Tall, old and massive pine trees brought some shadow. Actually temperature had stayed on reasonable level. Life was good.

Final descending on Devils Slide Trail and soon we were at the starting point on Humber Park. About 25km altogether and about 1km of ascending vertically. I like San Jacinto.

Some photos

A traffic sign, it's your choice


Along pine and spruce forest

A Lookout on Tahquitz Peak

Old School

New stuff packed

Evening sun

Tahquitz Peak on left, Lily Rock on right

Mountain slopes on moonlight, city lights of Hemet down in the valley

Starry night under (super) moon