|Walking in a winter Wonderland!|
The idea sprang up just a few days prior when my friend Alan had mentioned he was heading up there with the San Jacinto Meetup group for a snowshoe adventure. I made some quick emails and found a few more that wanted to go. I decided I had better check the weather report to see what the forecast was. I was not happy with what I read. While the temps would be cold, 10 to 20 degrees, and there would be light snow that did not really bother me. What I was most unhappy about was the wind forecast of 25 MPH wind with gusts to 50! Since nearly all of my recent winter adventures have involved battling high winds I was really looking forward to a day of minimal interference from blasting snowy winds. I shared my thoughts and firmly stated that I was not up for that however the following day conditions looked much better.
Most people decided to go on the original day, including Alan who had other plans on the next day I had suggested. Fortunately for me, my friend Erica was able to go on the following day which was very fortunate for me for several reasons. I was not going to do this alone so just the fact that she was going meant the trip was on. Secondly, while I grew up in a beach community building sand castles and going body boarding she was raised in Northern Canada and was building snowmen and going snowshoeing, much more appropriate skills for what was before us. In addition to all that, she and her husband have done many winter travels and winter mountaineering courses together so her winter knowledge far outweighs mine.
I got a call from Alan on his way back from his day on the mountain. They did not make the summit and one of the main reasons was the slow and difficult conditions that the snow had presented. He said they were sinking up to their knees very early on and up to their waist in some sections up higher. This makes for very slow travel. He did say that the wind was minimal so at least that was good news. He also informed me that a lady named Ellen from their trip was planning on going the next day and that she was going to look for me at the tram station and try to join us.
|Enjoying the easy part of our adventure.|
|The infamous Ellen of San Jacinto on the left.|
Up top we stepped out of the tram station (after Ellen was personally greeted by at least 5 other workers on the mountain) and found the conditions to be perfect. No wind, about 20 degrees and partly cloudy skies. We headed down to the ranger station to get our permit. At this point we just let Ellen handle it as it was quite obvious she had done this a few times before (probably over 100) and we strapped on our snowshoes.
|Having fun with friends.|
|View of the snow covered trees near the summit.|
|Summit picture on a snowy San J.|
|Ellen invites us into her home away from home near the summit|
Once back to the amenity filled tram station we could relax a little before catching a ride down the mountain. It is rather fun to see the looks we get as most of the people up there don't venture much farther than a 10 minute walk and some just came up to the top from the desert to see what it is like. They look at our gear, our windburnt faces and crazy hat hair and draw their own conclusions on who and what we are. Some probably just think we are a bunch of smelly homeless people but you still see many who are interested and amazed but are to afraid to ask what all this stuff is for. Others start a conversation and are completely unaware of the peak just 3 miles as the crow flies from where they are standing.
This trip was definitely what I needed to kick start my winter adventures. The weather was good, we made the summit and I got to do it with some new friends. Ellen, who considers San Jacinto Peak one of her family, is the real deal and a very enjoyable person to spend time with. Erica and I were happy to have met her up there and certainly wish to include her in our future travels. Yet another great weekend of making friends while climbing mountains!