Richard, Brita, Josh and I arrived at the Palm Springs Tram mid morning on Saturday. We loaded up and took the 8500 foot ride from the Valley Station to the Mountain Station in San Jacinto State Park.
The change in temperature was welcome as we stepped out of the Mountain Station and did our final adjustments before heading out to confirm our permit with the ranger. It was a perfect sunny day.
Once our permits were approved we took off down the trail for our 2.1 mile trek to Round Valley Camp at 9100 feet. Richard and Brita are training for a trip to the Himalayas, which is so freakin' cool. They are relatively new to backpacking but you'd never know it. Brita is also legally blind but you'd never know that either! They are an amazing couple and I love them very much.
Josh and I were having weird relationship vibes on this trip. A solo day hiker chatted with us for a bit while on a break and the chemistry between Josh and her was palpable. It weirded us both out; me because, well, what the fuck? Josh, however, was less weirded out by the "moment" he'd just had with the girl, and more that my spidey-senses picked it up. Something for both of us to acknowledge and keep and I on, I suppose.
We arrived at camp around 1:30pm and searched for the appropriate tent sites. The sites are supposed to be marked by a wood post with the camp name on it, but we failed to find such places with all of the downed trees. We did stumble upon a fully fleshed deer skeleton with the head a short distance away. Its partially buried body looked like the work of a mountain lion. After a long time poking at it with a stick, we found a minimal impact area and pitched our tents for the night.
After camp was set, Josh and I decided to attempt the peak. We left a little after 3pm and arrived about 5pm. We bypassed the cabin and headed straight for the peak. My head was pounding from the fast gain in elevation and I had to rest a few times even just below the peak. When we arrived, there were a few people up there waiting for the sunset but it wasn't too crowded, which was nice. As always, the views of the desert and San Gorgonio were stellar, and Josh summited another big peak!
We ate some snacks, Josh sang Frank Zappa while he made yellow snow (which he was very proud of), and I started to get REALLY cold. We decided to descend a bit and check out the cabin just below the summit. I left a votive offering to Saint Bernard on the mantle, to protect my fellow climbers. Saint Bernard is the patron saint of backpackers and mountaineers. While I'm broadly spiritual and not religious, I love art and legend. Someone left a dime as an offering on the mantle and that made me smile! For those of you who don't know me, my mom taught us growing up that when you find a dime, it is God's way of telling you you're on the right path. I find them in the weirdest places!
We finally decided to take the walk down, as we watched the night creep in over the meadow below. We had our headlamps but didn't need them and arrived back in camp around 7pm where we cooked some dinner. Josh used the cat-can stove which I think is so cool but the open flame scares me. I used the jet boil, as always, and was surprised the cat-can was only a bit slower. Brita used her new mini stove just before we arrived, and said it was awesome. It is super cool how small it packs down.
After dinner we all zipped up in our respective tents and called it a night.
The next morning we awoke to bird calls around 6am after a long night in the tent. I tossed and turned getting used to my new sleeping pad and Josh had an epic hamstring cramp around 2am. Needless to say, we were a bit punchy.
Time for coffee, breakfast, and to plan the day.
Josh and I had coffee and argued about our relationship for a while, before huddling with Richard and Brita about which direction we should hike. We decided the peak was a bit technical for this trip and chose to trek a mile up to Wellman's Divide as our summit adventure.
We donned light day packs and began the hike!
We reached Wellman's Divide an hour or so later and pulled up a boulder to enjoy the view. You could see all the way to Palomar and Mount Laguna!
After enjoying the views we packed up and headed back down to wrap up camp. There were a lot of day hikers on the way up, but even with the traffic Josh was visited by another deer. Unlike the one we found in camp, this one was alive. Lots of deer messengers on this trip! Deer is supposed to be a sign of unconditional love. I'm wasn't buying it on this trip but who am I to second guess the cosmos.
Josh and I continued to see silly faces in the rocks and trees formations and it helped break up some of the tension.
Here are some of them:
We arrived back at Long Valley around 2pm and did the steepest climb of the trip; the walk up the ramp to Mountain Station is TOUGH! We looked back at the distance we had traveled and were happily pooped as we took our final pictures at San Jacinto State Park.
We fought the crowds and rode the crowded tramcar down into the hot desert below. I was a bit... disheveled.
Get outta my space humans! I stink!
We made it to the car and headed out for greasy mexican food in Cabazon before visiting the Golite store, where Brita bought a new pack just like mine!
It was a great weekend with three of my favorite people. Richard and Brita are always amazing with the goals they set and achieve.
Josh's knees and joints were doing much better, and he learned a lot about his gait which is helping to keep his body from painful over-use injuries. I did a lot of thinking and tried to sort out my brain from the vibes in the air that were sometimes weird. All in all, it was a good trip.