My training plan called for 8 miles on Sunday. The thought of more miles on the San Diego Creek trail or around the Back Bay wasn't exactly appealing. So - why not mix it up a little? And my daughter gave me all the excuse I needed. We were up early and out the door at 6AM to drive over to Palm Springs for a little jaunt up in the hills.
Now, when most think about Palm Springs, they think about heat and desert. Palm Springs is truly one of Southern California's desert resort gems. But, just a short distance from the desert heat is an alpine wonderland. That wonderland is the Mt. San Jacinto State Park, and it is easily accessed by the Palm Springs Aerial Tramway - whisking riders from Valley Station at 2,643 feet elevation up to Desert View Station at 8,510 feet elevation is just about 7 minutes. The gem of the Park is its namesake - Mt. San Jacinto at 10,834 feet elevation. By riding the tram up the mountain, one can cut the walk to an 11 mile round trip with about 2,300 foot elevation gain.
The day was absolutely beautiful. We were on the second tram up the mountain at 8:30. Temperatures were in the mid 60's, skies were clear, and the vistas breathtaking. We made our way through the heavily forested slopes the first two miles to Round Valley.
This is where one of the rarities in Southern California exists - a year round spring with cool refreshing water.
We then continued on another mile and a half to the spectacular views to the East at Wellman's Divide, where, even though it was a hazy day, we could clearly see the Salton Sea in the distance.
From here, we climbed another 1,000 vertical feet over two more miles to the summit hut.
From there, it was a scramble up the last 100 feet to the summit. The hazy day still allowed magnificent views.
From there it was two more downhill miles back to the tram station, where out last hurdle remained - a 100 foot hike back up to Desert View station for the ride back down.