Peako Baggins WTC Experience Trip To San Jacinto, Tahquitz, Jean, and Marrion

  • Updated: September 10, 2016
  • Post By: Matthew Hengst

September 10th & 11th, 2016
Tahquitz Peak (8,846')
San Jacinto Peak (10,839')
Jean Peak (10,670')
Marion Mountain (10,362')

This was originally a WTC Experience Trip planned by Bill Payne and myself but unforeseen circumstances forced him to drop out and Jeff was nice enough to step in at the last minute.  So just a few days after popping out of the frigid Royce and Miriam Sierra trip we were sitting in a much warmer parking lot at Humber Park awaiting our participants for two relatively relaxed -ish days in the San Jacinto Wilderness.

We had one bad bit of news which was the rangers informed us the water sources on this side of the wilderness area were all dry.  Because of this we'd have to carry in all our water for the entire weekend.  On the plus side this saved me about a pound since I didn't need my water filter but on the slightly negative side I was carrying 8 liters of water.  And then of course I threw in 1 bottle of wine and one flask of scotch to help ease the pain of carrying all of that.

Out participants filtered in around our 9:30 am start time.  We had a relaxed schedule the first day and Jeff and I were both enjoying not having to drive until all hours of the night to get to the trailhead.  Local trips have their advantages!

The participants were all 2016 WTC students and all but one was from Orange County.  They all accepted the extra water weight with an admirable aplomb and we were off!

Saturday: Camp and Tahquitz

8 miles, 2400 ft gain

The first 2.4 miles is a 1500 ft hill to reach Saddle Junction.  It was warm but we had the advantage of being fresh.

We ran into some rangers on the way up and from the amount of attention we got throughout the day I had the feeling we might be the only people camping on this side.  They were nice enough to point us to our permitted campsite and drop by later to check on us.

Out campsite was just south of the Caramba Trail junction and we'd picked it for its nearness to water (most of the time anyway).  It was a nice site with plenty of camping and lots of rocks to use as furniture.

After setting up camp we loaded up our daypacks and set off for a quick excursion to Tahquitz Peak.  We'd made such good time I'd been hoping to add Red Tahquitz as well but the rangers informed us the peak was still closed due to fire damage from 2015.  Which was a bummer since that was one of the early peaks I did when I started hiking.

I was a volunteer at the Tahquitz fire lookout a number of years ago so it's always neat to visit.  One of the perks of the program is you can spend the night up there after your shift and I have some really fond memories of watching the sun go down over Idyllwild.

The lookout was being closed up when we got there so we had to settle for peaking in the windows and sitting outside and enjoying the views.

Leesel seemed to have a supernatural ability to attract whatever bee like (but not actually bee) insects that were flying around and spent a good amount of time searching for a bug free nirvana.  Which she never found.

We could see our peaks for the next day off in the distance.  These are more commonly done from a different trailhead so this was going to be a more interesting day on Sunday.

We strolled back to camp and enjoyed a relaxed happy hour well before the sun went down.

Brought wine but forgot a cup?  No problem!

Sunday: Three Peaks and Out

17.5 miles, 4000 ft gain

This was going to be a full day so we were up before dawn and hiking by 6:45 am.

Closure at the Wilson Creek Trail

We were all on trail until we reached the summit of Jacinto and the biggest challenge was dodging other groups coming down.

Up at the summit we ran into Dave and Alison who were also 2016 Modjeska students.  They were just out day hiking but we pulled them into our summit shot anyway.

And from here it was cross country!  The fun stuff!

We crossed over Jean and headed further south to Marion Mountain.  This is the more difficult of the two and the one that allows it to qualify as an I provisional since the nav can be a bit tricky.  It's also known to have an interesting summit block I was excited to see.

This is the Marrion summit.  The high point is to the right but it was fun to crawl around to the left as well.

As you can from the map above backtracking to the trail seems silly vs dropping down the ridge and joining back around Wellmans Divide.  This is a shortcut I've heard of people taking but I'd never had the chance to hike until now.

It's a bit of a bushwhack. 1200 ft of it.  I found occasional signs of people having come this way but there's no real clear route through the vegetation.  Pants are strongly recommended.

Progress slowed to a crawl but things improved below 9,800 ft.  Eventually scraped and bleeding slightly we arrived back down at the trail.

It was almost 3 pm by the time we reached the trail and 5 pm by the time we got back to camp, packed up, and were hiking out.

The sun went down as we were descending from Saddle Junction treating us to some beautiful sunset vistas.

Grand plans for post trip mexican food in Idyllwild turned into grabbing soda at a gas station and driving home after we arrived at the cars after 7.  Still it wasn't too bad a night and everyone had done an amazing job with the longer day.

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