Leaders: George Schroedter, David Eisenberg
For anyone who enjoys camping out but does not like to carry a backpack a long distance, a backpack hike to Round Valley Campground in the San Jacinto Wilderness is the answer. (It is also one of the easiest means of doing the provisional backpack hike for the "I" rating.)
This hike was published only in the HPS Lookout, so the number of participants was just 7. We met at 7:30 AM at the Palm Springs Tramway parking lot A, and took the 8 AM car up. There had been thunderstorms up on the peak that week, so we all hoped that they were over. We noted the clear sky but admitted to ourselves that this did not mean much so early in the day.
We arrived at Round Valley at 10:45 and were set up and ready to hike by 11:30. We found that just the day before the dripping PVC water pipe had been replaced with a galvanized pipe with 2 faucets and located at the trail intersection. The water had not been tested, so the park rangers strongly recommended it be treated. Not everyone heeded this advice. To my knowledge, no one suffered any ill effects.
We first climbed San Jacinto via the trail past Wellman Divide. We arrived at 12:20. On the way the sky clouded up quickly, so we figured that we were going to get rained on. David had recently been struck by lightning on Castle Rocks, so he urged that we have lunch down at the hut. We agreed.
At 1:00 PM we were off for Folly Peak and made this leg in just 50 minutes. This despite the fact that yours truly had trouble remembering exactly which one of the bumps on that ridge was Folly.
By 3:15 we had made the easy cross-country hike over to Jean, and a little after 4:30 we had all successfully climbed to the top of Marion. (The altitude had taken its toll: one of our hikers headed back to the campground from San Jacinto and another did the same when we crossed the trail coming back from Folly.) The view from Marion Peak was spectacular. We were also very pleased to see that the sky was clearing and that the threat of rain had passed.
Heading east off of Marion, I hoped to avoid the heavy manzanita near the Deer Creek Trail below Wellman Divide. Watching my altimeter, I was sure that we were above the path that David and I took there in July. But darned if I didn't hit the trail at the exact same place! So once again we had to plow through (and over) the dense manzanita. Sorry about that gang.
We were back at the campground by 6:00 and soon sharing snacks and goodies. Two had brought stoves and were able to enjoy a hot meal. Though the day had not been too strenuous, we all turned in early. We had talked of climbing Cornell that night under the full moon, but weariness ended all such thoughts. (The leaders were also not feeling too well; I was suffering a cold and David had his usual problems with the high altitude.)
Though the wind blew fairly hard around 3 AM, the morning was again beautiful. By 7:45 we had eaten breakfast and were on our way to Cornell Peak. Other than navigating around and through a few patches of brush, this hike was easy. We were back at our tents in just 2 hours.
At 10:17 we hit the trail back to the tram and arrived in time for the 11:30 car down.
This had been a great outing and certainly an easy way to bag the 5 peaks in the San Jacinto Wilderness. The other participants were Anita Griffin, Dorothy Pallas, Mark Scofield, Diana Jeffers, and Rosina Mueller.