Snow hike in California

I like to challenge myself on my hikes so I got this brilliant idea to attempt a summit of Mt San Jacinto (10,834 ft) using a 19 mile trail from Idylwild (total out/back)which is in the San Bernardino National Forest and partly on the Pacific Crest Trail. I had my micro spikes with me along with all my other gear. The weather was perfect with clear skies and little wind. The climb starts out very gradual and I didn’t hit full snow until 4 miles up. Because so few people actually hike up here in the winter the trail was packed down but the higher I went the less compacted it got. I felt like I was almost fighting the trail and my pace started slowing down. By 11am I knew I wouldn’t reach the peak in time to make it all the way back in daylight. Also I was solo and no one else was on the trail ( which was actually nice and peaceful but wouldn’t be in the dark). I turned around at 3 miles from the peak (peak is a Boulder scramble) so 12.4 miles total /3379 ft of ascent. Disappointed but I contacted a hiker that does a lot of snow hikes to see if he would be interested in a joint attempt so we will at least have two of us.

Here is how the trail starts out - easy

Then snow starts covering the trail

Then it got difficult - notice the Pacific Crest Trail marker and snow level covering most of the post

Look forward to making another attempt.


  • girlwithcurls2
    girlwithcurls2 Posts: 2,252 Member
    Wow. That's beautiful. You made a wise decision. That would not have been the best way to make the evening news. But it's super cool that you found someone to try again with. And this was sort of a recon trip, so you know what you'll be facing, and the amount of time you need to successfully complete it! Beautiful photos!
  • L1zardQueen
    L1zardQueen Posts: 8,756 Member
    I’ve hiked in the dark, it was not fun. We got caught out by sunset, instead of turning around we kept on hiking the loop. You were smart, we were dumb.
  • NorthCascades
    NorthCascades Posts: 10,967 Member
    That was ambitious! I mean that as admiration. 🙂

    Breaking trail is exhausting. You must have been post holing a lot.

    Your first and third pic look downright warm. And then you broke through into another world.
  • heybales
    heybales Posts: 18,837 Member
    Very cool.

    How tall normally is that post top barely sticking out of the snow?

    @NC - you must have something too! Did I miss a topic?
  • cheriej2042
    cheriej2042 Posts: 241 Member
    heybales wrote: »
    Very cool.

    How tall normally is that post top barely sticking out of the snow?

    @NC - you must have something too! Did I miss a topic?

    That Pacific Crest Trail post is about 3 1/2-4 ft . When I crossed over onto the PCT I saw a post with no snow. But you can see further up the snow got a lot higher. We are supposed to have a really warm week this week 75 and sunny so I think the snow will start decreasing so I will try again after March 14 which is when daylight savings time starts and start around 5 am.