Tuesday, August 11, 2009

August 11 - Summit Report

Well, how did I get here?

Therein lies a tale.

Start the day amidst the palms of

San Bernardino, rendezvous'ing with John at local coffeeshop, call Harriet to alert her as well that, as the mountains are clear, it looks like it's time to hike up Mt. San Jacinto.

After dropping off computer, speakers, et. al., at


followed by a traffic break before getting off

I-10 east and

pilot car activity at the

base of the


views of Mt. San Gorgonio and Pass lead to the Marion Mountain Trailhead at 12:02 (figuring on c. 5 miles and 5,000 ft elevation gain as taking 5 hours up and 2 1/2 down, getting off the mountain safely at roughly 7:30pm).

The moderately forested route (beyond noisy tree-mulching at the MM Campground -- the designers in their wisdom have directed us to park 1/2 mile prematurely) offers scrimmed views and occasional panoramas at rock outcroppings and

chaparral slopes,

leading to Little Round Valley, watched over by such peaks as Newton Drury.

A final phalanx of switchbacks exemplifies the subtleness of the trail (i.e. potential of losing one's way is a distinct possibility) and the general

ecologic tenor, before yielding a welcome respite

at the trail junction

to the summit,

where another path joins from the aerial tram towards first views

of the Palm Springs side of the mountain.

Sentinels of pines stand guard right


and dead ahead, towards the welcome figure of

the Emergency Shelter,

replete with teddy bear,

sleeping-bagged bunks, and

a world on view.

Circling round

to the final rock ascent

in low sun,

the summit is reached,

where Steve and Victoria Gore kindly take my picture,

and I theirs.

After taking in the views of San Gorgonio Mountain and

Pass and the

slopes towards Palm Springs,

it's 5:30, a bit late, so down we go past, shall we say,

Giardia Creek 2 and


the windows on the world revealing

boulder slopes,

castellated pinnacles,

chinquapin breaks, and

vistas of Fuller Ridge and Black Mountain.

Half-hour miles are clocking in at 45 minutes past a suspicous meadow, so -- attempting to reject the option of overnight exposure to the elements -- there seems no recourse but to

run, run, fast as you can, reasoning, in the dim views, that the more that can be dashed in the halflight (without dashing one's physicality), the less to be stumbled in the absolute, ambiguous darkness (not withstanding the half moon which should eventually arrive).

Hallelujah the lights of Marion Campground appear beyond a treacherous forest road, and the trail is abandoned for wide pavement in the

last light, before the last pitch

to the darkness of security. Whew.