Being unemployed has its perks. For one, I can go hiking during the middle of the week and not have to worry about the crowds. A friend and I took advantage of my current situation and went to Idyllwild last Thursday to hike in the San Jacinto Wilderness. The area had a fire a couple of months ago and I wanted to see how the trails were affected. Currently one cannot hike to San Jacinto Peak via Humber Park. I wondered how they blocked off the trails. So we left San Diego on a faux-fallish morning and arrived to the ranger station around 9 a.m. They were closed for the day so I couldn’t talk to anyone about the current trail conditions. But I did notice on the door that if you go to San Jacinto Peak from Saddle Junction, you will be fined $5000! Holy smokes! Our plan was to do an out and back hike to Tahquitz Peak. Once we had our gear together and layered up we hit the trail. My friend had just returned from hiking in Peru so she was glad to be back on the trail. It was windy and cold, but at least the sun was out and occasionally a sea of clouds would roll in, but then quickly roll back out. I took lots of pictures as I’m fond of sea of clouds images.
While on the trail I did the usual self-reflection and wondered about the many possibilities which lay ahead. And then I got to Saddle Junction. The different trails that were currently closed off had yellow caution tape around the trees. I took lots of pictures for my hiking friends back in San Diego.
We took a break and then continued on to the tower. We passed a volunteer ranger and got a chance to talk about the current conditions. He said the trail to San Jacinto Peak might not reopen until next year. He also mentioned that last Saturday he counted 70 people on the trail to Tahquitz since that was the only one open via Humber Park! We continued on knowing that we would see him again at the tower.
And then we were there. And someone was inside! To let us in from the cold! I had been to the tower many times before, but I’ve never actually gone inside! This was a real treat for me. There was a desk, a bed, a stove, books, sign-in sheets, cooking supplies, everything a volunteer could need while checking for fires.
We talked with the volunteer for half an hour while we ate our lunch and then he gave us each a card saying that we climbed Tahquitz Peak Lookout Tower and thus we were recognized as members of the “Ancient and Honorable Order of Squirrels.”
I suggested to my friend that instead of going back the way we came, that we should take the South Ridge Trail and then hook onto the Ernie Maxwell Trail back to Humber Park. That would make it a loop hike for us. She happily agreed and off we went. Descending down the trail was amazing since there were a lot of rolling clouds over the valley. Of course I couldn’t stop taking pictures.
And before we knew it we were back at the quiet parking lot taking a break before the drive back to San Diego. I thought of all the hikes I could do during the week and I thanked someone/something that despite not having work I can go hiking.