A Day on the Mountain
Mt. San Jacinto is the mountain that looms above Palm Springs. It has a huge vertical drop- the summit is at 10,834'. The elevation of downtown Palm Springs is about 500 feet. For several years now, Leon and I have hiked partway up the mountain during our visits. We have wanted to hike up to the upper terminal of the Palm Springs Aerial Tramway, however it's a long and steep hike, and we have always turned back partway up.
This year we decided to get an early start and really try to get to the tram. The trail begins right at the end of Ramone Road, about half a mile from where we were staying. It's not very long- only about 8 miles to the tram. We have easily gone that distance on other day hikes, however this trail involves an 8,000 foot elevation gain.
Looking fresh at 7:30 AMWe left the hotel just after 7. Michael opted to spend the day poolside, so it was just Leon and me this time out.
The trail begins in desert and quickly rises high above the city. We were treated to spectacular views throughout the day. It was sunny and beautifully warm at the lower elevations. Probably due to the lateness of he season, I saw very few insects. I did manage to get a photo of a pretty beetle and a variegated meadowhawk dragonfly.
The climb gives a beautiful lesson in the alpine life zones of southern California. Desert gives way to the shrubby scrub land known as chaparral. This is an ecosystem that I have less familiarity with. I always find it disorienting when I'm someplace where I don't know the names of even the common, conspicuous plants.
Eventually, trees begin appearing. The hike ends in ponderosa pine forest at the tram station. The air up here is thin. Between the elevation and the prolonged exertion of hiking we were really wiped when we got to the tram at about 4 in the afternoon. I have few photos of the end of the hike. What really amazes me is that after the tram ride down, we still had the energy to go out to dinner with Michael and a couple of other guys that we had met at the resort. I guess we were hungry.
I think I would have died if I had known that there was still
nearly 2 hours of hiking in front of us here
Side benefits of the hike: I have restarted my running program, run more than 15 miles each week , and dropped 8 pounds since this hike. Michael wants us to repeat this (with him) next year, and I want to be in better shape for it.