Gossamer Tapestry

Reflections on conservation, butterflies, and ecology in the nation's heartland

Sunday, December 19, 2010

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.

Leon at the trailhead
Looking fresh at 7:30 AM

We left the hotel just after 7. Michael opted to spend the day poolside, so it was just Leon and me this time out.

The views of Palm Springs were spectacular

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.

Cool beetle

Variegated Meadowhawk (Sympetrum corruptum)

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.


Up in the chaparral zone the views are amazing

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.

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At 23:24, Blogger Ur-spo said...

we'll all get in better shape and redo PS 2011.

At 22:33, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I have some great insect collecting memories from those mountains. Gayle Nelson took me there when I first moved to California.

At 14:35, Blogger Jim said...

Nice pictures. Sounds like a great hike too. We really have to visit PS again soon. Maybe next year. Who knows, we may even see you around...

Happy Holidays and a Happy New Year. :)

At 23:06, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Phew! I wouldn't even attempt this in my younger days when I was doing a lot of hiking!

I've been out to this area and LOVE it!

Merry Christmas, Duug!

At 16:27, Blogger Kathie Brown said...

Doug, what a hike and wow! You sure are ambitious! Good Luck with the running! Great pictures and how different from the snowbound Northeast!

At 03:30, Anonymous Böcek ilaçlama said...

I'm a bug researcher in turkey and following your blog, checking everyday. Im investigating how such a change is made in their lives of insects as a result of global warming. Thank you for your shares and information.


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