4/12/11 The second half (alpine/snow/clouds) of my first C2C summit. There's probably not too many places where you can experience such extremes in one day.
1 Long Valley at the top of Skyline. This was solid snow the last two times I was here.
2 "Gee hunny look there's actually trails here that people hike on! I wonder how you get here without the tram?"
3 The trail leading out of Long Valley. It's just after 1:00pm. I resist the temptation to hang out in the lodge for a while, and I press on. 5.8 miles and 2400' more gain to the top.
4 A look at the summit from just outside Long Valley.
5 Starting to get into patches of snow. It was deep here last time.
6 100% snow coverage the whole rest of the way after crossing the creek.
7 Easy snow hiking at this point. There's been enough foot and snowshoe traffic that there's pratcially a sidewalk in the snow here. Since time is tight today, I welcome the easy tracks to follow.
8 1.7 miles from Long Valley. This sign was completely covered last time.
9 Round Valley. The meadows are just starting to show through the snow.
10 The backpacker's water stop at the edge of Round Valley.
11 View from the trail junction at Wellman's Divide. This is actually not far above Wellman's Cienaga, one of my favorite spots in Southern CA.
12 About 2.3 more (steep) miles to the top.
13 The tracks are sparse from here on up. I'm breaking trail in places and following a set of snowshoe prints in other spots. Most people that snowshoe or hike from the tram stop at Wellman's Divide. Today I haven't seen a human being since just outside of Long Valley.
14 Another fun traverse. This would be pretty easy in crampons, but I have nothing but my YakTrax Pros because I have to travel light and it would be a pain to carry my heavy/bulky steel crampons up Skyline. Fortunately there's nothing too dangerous downslope from here.
15 A classicly deceptive picture. This is extremely steep. The snowshoers had evidentally decided to head straight up the hill and cut some distance off the trail and avoid more traversing (definitely a good plan if you're in snowshoes). I decide to keep following them, which isn't quite as easy with only trail running shoes. This was an extremely tough climb. Probably 15 minutes up this hill and about 15 seconds down it on the way back!
16 A panorama view from the ridge just below the summit. I'm close enough now that I'm starting to think I may actually pull this off today. I wasn't sure all the way up to this point. View Full Size
17 Made it! Only person on top. I love the little arrow in case you didn't realize that rock to the right was the highest point. It's just before 5:00pm when I officially summit. Definitely my latest summit ever, but fortunately I get to take the tram most of the way down.
18 The official summit marker.
19 View from the top.
20 Another summit view.
21 Mt. San Gorgonio in the distance.
22 Palm Springs about 10,400' below. Hard to believe I started down there!
23 Self pic at the top (with a little snow on my chin).
25 Super hi-res panorama. I start heading down just after 5:00pm. If I make at least 2:1 time on the way back to Long Valley, I could actually make it to the lodge before dark. Since there's no snowstorm this time, I have much easier navigation and my tracks should still be visible the whole way back. I should be able to make pretty good time and I'm confident finding my way back in the dark by headlamp if need be. View Full Size
26 Back down to Round Valley as the sun is getting low across the meadows.
27 Back to the creek crossing and the end of heavy snow coverage.
28 Back to the ranger station at Long Valley. I made it! I officially summitted San Jacinto in the snow via Cactus to Clouds. Sunrise to sunset, no headlamp required.
29 The climb up to the lodge. Mentally, the toughest climb of the day! But at least I know food is waiting up there.
30 The always amazing view from the deck of the lodge.