San Jacinto Peak

August 4, 2004

See the 2003 page for more details and pictures (although of a different route).  Here is a description of the hike from email sent to Mike Vermeulen on August 7:

I went up the Devil's Slide trail, which on paper is harder than the Fuller
Ridge trail I did last year--both longer (16.2 miles versus 15.2) and more
elevation gain (starting at 5620 instead of 7720, so 2100 feet more of
elevation gain!).
[Actually Devil's Slide starts at 6480, so only 1240 feet
more gain.  I was confusing it with the Deer Springs Trail, which I should try sometime.]
But I think Devil's Slide is the much easier trail. It
goes up the side of the mountain rather than following a ridge, so there are
almost no down segments unlike Fuller Ridge which had a lot of up and down
and maybe more climbing overall. Also the longer length meant the trail was
not so steep. It was one of the easier trails I've dealt with and I had no
knee problems. I did feel the altitude quite early on, though, maybe even
as low as 7000 feet, so that's still a worry. But I seemed to get used to
it (the peak is at 10804).

The drive there is long so even though I left before 4:30 I didn't get
started until 7:08. There were already a couple backpacking parties to
start on the trail just before me. I'm sure this is the second easiest and
second most popular way to get up the mountain (the easiest and most popular
being the tram route from Palm Springs that goes much of the way up).
However I passed everyone by the first junction and spent most of the hike
alone. It was strange in that my legs felt very strong but the rest of me
(no doubt due to altitude problems) didn't feel so good. Coming down I felt
strong, though, at least to the 12 mile point and then I started to wear
out. My footwork got very sloppy toward the end and I slipped at one point
and scraped my right arm against a tree as I fell. So I lost some skin there
and it looks a bit like road rash, but otherwise I was fine.

The hike was terrific--much better than Fuller Ridge. Very pleasant just as
a hike, and terrific views. The weather was perfect as well. The trail
goes between to very famous and popular rock climbing areas, Tahquitz and
Suicide rocks, so that was cool to see them. Friends of mine at UCLA climb
Tahquitz regularly; maybe some day I can get good enough to join them.... I
didn't take my camera, though. The trail was well-marked and I had no
navigational problems like last week. I knew pretty much how to deal with
the last scrambling section to the peak itself also, and I visited the hut
near the summit for the first time.

I made it to the top at 11:35, stayed up there until 11:55 (talking to the
one other guy there, who was an interesting character), and then got back by
3:25. So 4:27 to get up, and 3:30 to get down; 8:17 total time. So a fair
improvement over last year.



Distance up/down: 8.1 miles
Total distance: 16.2 miles
Time up: 4:27
Time on top: 0:20
Time down: 3:30
Total Time:  8:17