26 Mar, 2020

Day 10 – Forces of nature

Written by: Russ

South Downs Way

Distance:

miles

Time:

hours

Elevation gain:

feet

San Jacinto route overview

After crossing Highway 74, you enter the San Jacinto Mountain Range, a 30-mile stretch of treacherous mountain sides,  ridgelines and steep icy slopes. For a more detailed overview with tips and a plan for the day, check out the video below.

Elevation

The San Jacinto will be the most elevation gain you’ll experience on the trail so far, swiftly gaining altitude toward San Jacinto Peak over the next 20 miles, the effects of altitude on your body are apparent with muscle fatigue and shortness of breath.

Over the M3

My top 5 tips for the San Jacinto Mountains

Wind-swept frost

The initial miles on the San Jacinto were covered in a sharp, wind-swept frost which coated all of the trees and bushes along the route. I could tell there had been a serious storm with prevailing westerly winds, and it wouldn’t be the last. The clear skies, good weather and gentle breeze were reassuring and the views were incredible.

Over the M3
Over the M3
Over the M3
Over the M3

Onward to San Jacinto

A hiker who I kept leapfrogging the day before came up behind me late that morning. Powering past I could see he had no ice axe, leading me to believe he also didn’t have microspikes either. He sped on as I took things a little more slowly and I continued to traverse the mountain range. The weather was holding up well.

Over the M3
Over the M3
Over the M3
Over the M3

Slippery slopes

As I made my way around the range, the weather started taking a turn with winds picking up and clouds gathering overhead to the north. It was around this point that the trail suddenly turned into massive 45 degree slopes coated in ice with a thin layer of fresh snow above the crust. It was time to put on the spikes and reach for the axe. After traversing the first slope safely the rock slide mentioned in the San Jacinto Trail Report was next, but it was actually equipped with ropes which were fixed into the rock making it much easier to pass the slide.

More slopes were to come and I slowly but safely traversed each one, but time was pressing on and I needed to keep the pace up to reach camp before it got dark.

The weather worsened and the snow started to dump on the trail from the clouds gathering overhead. I made it to the camp at mile 172.2 which I wanted to settle down in, but it was on the windy side of the ridgeline I was on and was too small, and exposed so I decided to take the risk and head on further to tent site 4 at mile 175.4 which was much better suited, albeit still very windy.

The night to follow would turn out to be the coldest night I’d ever camped in.

Over the M3
Over the M3
Over the M3
Over the M3
Over the M3

Gallery

Overview

  • Views and vista 100% 100%
  • Difficulty 90% 90%
  • Elevation gain 100% 100%

Start time:

07:00

Camp time:

19:00

Explore

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