10/15/17 A short 11 mile hike up the Devil's Slide trail, through Skunk Cabbage Meadows, and out to Tahquitz Peak. I had to change my original plans because of the fire area closure, but it was still a great route!
1 The Devil's Slide trail is a little too wide and too busy for my taste, but it's still a pretty area.
2 Nice views as the elevation increases.
3 As soon as you reach the junction, the majority of the traffic continues on either to the San Jacinto summit or directly to Tahquitz Peak. Noone heads out to the meadows. The trail instantly feels more remote, and I didn't see a single person.
4 And this is what they are missing. Skunk Cabbage meadows. One of the more spectacular displays of color contrast I have ever seen. What would have been a lush green bed of ferns in the Spring is now browned-out in the Fall. But it creates an amazing palette of yellows and oranges.
5 The colors go on for quite a ways.
6 The trail is almost overgrown here, clearly very little foot traffic. Amazing considering how crowded the trail was on the other side of the junction.
7 Some areas were still wet making for a sharp contrast between greens and oranges.
8 Made it to the next junction, time for a break.
9 My plan had been to hike out to Caramba Outlook, but evidently that entire area is still closed due to the big 2013 fire. I had no idea. I was tempted to continue on anyway, and did scout out the trail for a little ways. But it quickly became tough to follow, so I decided against it. Probably a good thing too as I ran into a ranger shortly after who was checking permits. Clearly they are keeping a close eye on this area. He said it will likely be another 2-3 years before they have the trail open again.
10 So I decided to head out to Tahquitz Peak instead. It was great trail, so not much of a letdown.
11 Almost to Tahquitz Peak, looking back at San Jacinto.
12 Made it to the tower. I chatted with the volunteer for a while, always a fun conversation. Turns out the elderly couple I took pictures with last year just retired at 87 and 89 years old!
13 Great views from the top.
14 Lake Hemet from the tower.
15 Looking out towards the Salton Sea.
16 Evidently they had just installed a new lightning rod on the tower in 2014 when it got struck, completley mangling the copper pipe. But the rod worked!
17 Heading back down. Cool rock formations all over the place.
18 Misty mountains as the sun gets lower. Another great day on the trail.