Tamarack ValleyA Dayhike and Backpack 4-5 June 1988
What:A combination day hike and backpack utilizing the Palm Springs Tramway. Both groups hike together to camp sites. Day hikers return to tram on the same day. Optional hikes available for both.
Where:Approximately 0.5 mi north of Round Valley in the San Jacinto Mtns. South of Palm Springs.
When:Sat-Sun, 4-5 June 1988. Lv: 8:30 am Sat, Ret: 6:00 pm Sat (Day) & 3:00 pm Sun (Backpack).
Statistics:Rating - Easy. elevation gain - 600 ft; Starting elev. 8400 ft; 5 mi RT. Tram times (weekend): 1st Up -8:00 am, run every 1/2 hr, last down - 10:45 pm.
Route:From Palm Springs Aerial Tramway. Upper terminus ("Mountain Sta.") west through Long Valley to Round Valley (2 mi). North to Tamarack Valley (0.5 mi). Return same way. Note: Traditional cross-country routes between Tamarack/Cornell Pk and main trail are now discouraged as this is a deer fawning area.
Map:San Jacinto Pk (7.5’) or Palm Springs (15’) if you can’t find the newer 7.5’ map. My old copy of Palm Springs does not show the tram. Mountain Station is on the ridge near the "g" in "Long Valley".
Cost:Standard adult tram fare now is $12.95, round-trip, of course. We’ll have Xerox discount cards (15%). For future reference: phone - (619)325-1391 (recording).
Reservations:Required for backpack - contact leader. Dayhikers requested to keep leader informed of intentions. Dayhikers must get a separate permit at Long Valley Ranger Sta. Sat morning.
Leader:Jack Cook, work: (213)333-5214, home: (213)371-2706, E-Mail: JCook:El Segundo:Xerox
Trip Description:This is definitely the easy way. The "honest" way is up the other side from Idyllwild (Humber Park). But this is worthwhile if you’ve never been on the tram; we’ll hope visibility is clear as the views out over the desert can be magnificent. The tram takes roughly 15 minutes. Try to get next to a window at the end nearest the parking lot unless height really bothers you, then be content to stay in the middle or on the mountain side of the car.
At the top, we’ll make one last stop at the rest rooms, regroup, then head downstairs and out the back. Here, a long cement walkway switchbacks down into Long Valley. At the end of this walkway, we continue west onto the Round Valley Trail - 2 miles to Round Valley. But in a short distance, we first make a stop at the Ranger’s Station. Here, the backpackers check-in with their permit and the day-hikers get their own day permit (no quota). Then we’re on our way again.
The trail crosses Long Valley Creek several times then turns southwest before intersecting with a less distinct trail which comes from Hidden Lake Divide (another day!). This country is heavily forested with Sugar Pine, White Fir, and as we get a little higher, Lodgepole Pine (sometimes called Tamarack). This is true Alpine scenery. We turn west again and in only a quarter mile or so, reach Round Valley.
If the water is running at the west end of the valley (piped), we’ll fill a couple of water bags before continuing north roughly a half mile to Tamarack Valley. Here, we’ll scout around to find the best legal camping area possible. Note that there are outhouses in both the Tamarack and Round Valley camp areas so it isn’t as primitive as it could be. Probably time for lunch. Those who wish can set up tents to hold their spots.
In the afternoon and before dinner time, those that wish can take a short optional trek up to Cornell Peak. From the ridge near the steep summit block are excellent views to the north. Here you will be looking at one of the steepest drops in the US; the north side of San Jac drops down to the desert floor in a very short horizontal distance. Those that feel very adventurous can climb the summit block with rope protection. This, incidentally, is very similar to the type of terrain found on Sierra peaks.
Now’s the time for the day hikers to leave. I will accompany them back to the main trail and, if appropriate, to the tram.
After the sun drops, temperatures can be expected to also drop - quickly. I can’t guess how far - it was getting down to the mid-thirties last weekend. But almost anything can happen. Unfortunately, wood fires are no longer permitted - population pressures, I’m afraid. So be sure to bring warm clothing.
If there’s sufficient interest, another optional hike will leave fairly early in the morning (8:00 am is early for me) to hike to the top of Mt San Jacinto, about 10,800 ft high. This is fairly strenuous but after a night’s sleep at 9000 ft, most people will have aclimated adequately to the elevation. I recommend eating a light breakfast or just snack on the way instead. Near the top, we’ll pass a stone cabin, useful for shelter when caught by storm, built in 1936 by the CCC. Then it’s a short walk to the top - again we’ll hope for clear air. Across the way to the north is the highest peak in southern California, San Gorgonio (Greyback) at 11,500 ft. John Muir is supposed to have stood on top of Mt San Jacinto and said, "The view from San Jacinto is the most sublime spectacle to be found anywhere on this earth!". ’Nuff said?
Back to camp, rest, pack up, rest, lunch, rest? We’ll leave for the return hike by 1:00 pm or so. This will get us down early enough to allow a reasonably sane drive home, hopefully before the heaviest traffic. A good eating spot for us grubby mountain folk is the "Dinosaur", a truck stop a few miles back on IS10, not exactly high cuisine, but not bad & good portions. If your eyes were open Saturday morning, you saw it on the north side of the highway east of Banning (Cabazon area). If it’s open, you might find a tour through the dinosaur interesting.
Reference:For more reading, see "San Bernadino Mountain Trails", 4th Ed., by John W. Robinson. Trip no. 77, but read whole chapter for interesting information and history of area.
Bring:A more complete equipment list will be provided separately. Pair up if at all possible with tents (or do without or try a cheap tube tent). Rent sleeping bags. Need plastic ground sheet and foam pad (eg., ensolite). Not necessary to come equipped for an expedition. We can share & make do where necessary.
Food: Plan on 2 trail or cold lunches. 1 dinner - doesn’t have to be freeze-dried food. Even a frozen steak will keep if adequately wrapped and stowed. If you are learning, keep it simple. Minimize the cookware needed - you can get by nicely by just boiling water. Breakfast (Sun) can be hot or cold, as you wish. Don’t eat heavily if you plan on San Jac. If you don’t yet have a stove - no problem - there will be enough stoves around to at least get boiling water. I’ll bring extra fuel for mine.
Clothing: Bring a warm sweater, heavy wool socks, warm cap, mittens and a wind breaker (or parka) as a minimum. If your sleeping bag turns out to be chilly towards morning, don’t hesitate to put on dry clothing - the squirming will warm you up, too. A light poncho is a good idea, but not mandatory, in the unlikely event we get rain - cheap plastic is ok for this trip. If the weather starts looking nasty, we have the option of packing it up & going back to the tram. Lightweight boots are much preferred, but if you don’t have them yet, good running shoes will suffice. Bring 2 extra pairs of socks.
Miscellany:Bad weather will cancel (looks ok now). Call for more information or if in doubt. No dogs on this trip. I have room in my van - leaving from A/E bldg, West Dock area, 5:30 am.
Meeting & Driving Details:Try to be at Tram parking lot by 8:30 am. Drive to highest lot possible if upper lot is full. Meet in front of ticket area inside the lower terminal. I will have discount cards available. I want to be on a tram by 9:30. If you can’t make it for some reason, call me or someone else you know who is going by 5 am Saturday at the latest.
Expect at least 2.5 hrs driving time. Approximately 120 miles from El Segundo. Get onto Interstate 10 heading east toward Beaumont & Banning. Continue east about 12 miles beyond Banning to route 111 for Palm Springs. Exit right and southeast. As you reach the northern edge of Palm Springs, watch for Tramway signs (obvious) and Tramway rd; there’s a gas station on the corner on your right. Turnright on Tramway Rd. and follow signs to terminal. This road gets fairly steep. You’ll know it when you get there.
See you there!!!