We had a wonderfully lazy morning as we shared our breakfast from the Bunkhouse and gathered our things. We got a ride from the owner up to the trailhead and began climbing around 10:30. Devil’s Slide Trail seemed less dangerous now that it wasn’t raining, but the 2.6 miles of incline was not a simple task first thing in the morning.
We reached Saddle Junction and continued up through the pine forest, encountering small patches of snow as we went, until we reached the junction with the San Jacinto alternate which would take us to the peak. Strider, Julia, AnnKristen and I sat at this junction and enjoyed lunch, relaxing before our final push to the summit. Two hikers came down the alternate from the peak- it was Zack and Nick! They had hidden their packs behind some bushes and “slackpacked” (hiked without their packs) to the summit and back already this morning. They had been confident on the snow without microspikes so gained confidence as well. Soon we parted ways with Strider and the three of us ladies were off to summit a mountain.
The reports had said that hikers might need microspikes (a traction device that fits over your shoes) to traverse the snow on the mountain, especially if they were inexperienced hiking on snow. I’m from Ohio, I can handle snow- or so I thought. Mountain snow is SO different than the mounds of lake effect we get back home. This snow might as well have been rock covered with slush, with few places to dig in or grip. Fortunately there weren’t a lot of difficult spots on the way up, but I was definitely not comfortable on the snow without microspikes.
We reached a junction where the trail up met the trail that goes down the other side, along with a sign pointing up: 0.3 miles to the peak. Unfortunately, there was no apparent trail going up since it was entirely buried in over a foot of snow. It probably reached 4 feet deep or more in some places but was solid. We all scrambled up the snow until we reached a stone emergency shelter- our home for the night. Here we found Cyndi and she was our guide to the peak.
The view was breathtaking. Clouds hung below us to the west, we could see the wind farms and the city of Cabazon to the north, and even the edge of Palm Springs to the east. The trees were covered in ice and squeaked and occasionally shattered in the wind.
We stayed until we were shivering uncontrollably and then made our way back to the shelter. It was somehow colder inside. We bundled up in our sleeping bags and made hot food and tea to try and warm up. Our thermometers told us it was below freezing inside the shelter.
When the sun began to set we talked about going up to see it but no one wanted to leave their sleeping bag. We were a bit miserable, but we were on top of a mountain and how often do you get to do that? I stepped out to go to the bathroom after dark and could see the twinkling lights of Palm Springs again before tucking back into my bag and shivering myself to sleep.
Trail magic: 0
Hiked with: Cyndi, Julia, AnnKristen
Camped with: Cyndi, Julia, AnnKristen