Mt. San Jacinto

Mt. San Jacinto was #7 on the list of training peaks, which we did at the very beginning of July as a 2 day backpack.  We’ve been so busy hiking on the weekends we’ve fallen behind on our trip reports!

Knowing we only had about 4 miles to hike to our campsite we decided to take our time Saturday morning packing before we headed out.  This is one of the advantages of living in LA – in just 2 hours you can be standing at the foot of Mt. San Jacinto, a pretty major peak at 10,500′.  Since we had such a short trip to the campsite at Strawberry Junction, we decided to take a side trip without out packs to Suicide Rock, which overlooks a valley. Suicide Rock is also on the 100 Peaks list, so it was nice to check off an easy one.

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The giant granite faces almost give it a Yosemite feeling.

Even with a late start and the side trip we arrived before sunset with plenty of time to setup camp and have dinner. Unfortunately Strawberry Junction does not have a water source so we had to carry up enough water for the whole day, cooking dinner and breakfast, and for the first couple of miles on Sunday. Other than that the campground was really nice with lots of privacy for each site.

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The next day was the real hike and we knew it would be a challenge: 5.1 miles and 2840 feet to the summit, a different route 6 miles back to camp, pack up camp and hike another 4.1 miles and 2400 feet of loss to the car. In total, 15.2 miles, 2840′ up and 5240′ down!

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The hike up was challenging, but we had some fun jumping in shallow stream crossings as hardcore day hikers passed us.  The terrain was either dry and rocky or lush and green around the springs.

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Once we made it to the top we cooked our favorite turkey tetrazzini and looked out toward Old Gray Back (San Gorgonio), which would be peak #8.

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While we were at the peak enjoying the view a small cloud of smoke started to appear near the bottom of the mountain.  As the smoke grew and grew everyone started to talk about the fire wondering where it was exactly, but most people had nothing to worry about since they had parked and taken the tram up on the opposite side of the mountain. We of course we did not… our campsite with all our gear was 6 miles down the mountain in the direction of the fire. Luckily it was much farther off and we later found out was put out very quickly, but apparently it did briefly close the road we traveled home on.

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After deciding not to worry too much about the fire, we headed down the mountain and back to our campsite on a different route that was slightly longer, but less steep and easier on the knees. One section where we picked up a portion of the Pacific Crest trail was one of the most beautiful sections of the trail, with impressive views of the granite cliffs. We were glad to have the scenery to keep our mind off the never ending miles of downhill trekking.

We finally made it back to the campsite and packed up our tent and other gear, then started down the last 4 miles.  By this point we were definitely ready to be done and tired of going downhill, but we pushed through and just barely made it within our target time of 10 hours for the day.

After we reached the car Katharine realized she had taken a bit of the trail with her…  Even though she was wearing long pants all day somehow she ended up with some impressive dirt lines.

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All in all it was a challenging weekend backpacking trip but helped us feel more prepared for Whitney and it was nice to finally conquer the mountain that we had to turn back on last time just 0.5 miles from the peak.

 

  1. Josh’s avatar

    Your desctiption of the miles and altitude for the second day of this hike is almost identical to the second day of the whitney hike. I think for us it was 16 miles with 2600 up and 6000 down. Seems like you guys will be in good shape by then

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