90 miles driven, 107 photographs taken, 2 Americano Grande’s drunk, 0 Starbucks City Mugs acquired (Palm Springs), 12 miles walked 2000 ft climbed, stupidity quotient high
Accomodation: Big Bear Lake Front Lodge (Good)
Picture: This was the fateful decision point. Highest point of the climb with the option to return by the same route or add six miles and 600ft of climbing with a circular route. 2/3 of water supply consumed at this point, but I assumed a leisurely return, we could cope …..
This was designed to be the high point of the Palm Springs section of the tour. I was first introduced to the Mount Jacinto State Wilderness by Steve Barth a few years back during a fluffy bunny story event of which more later. The ride up on the cable car from a desert environment to a sub-Alpine one provides another of those contrasts that I like and the hiking is great. Its also a lot cooler! Either way I ended up breaking two of the basic laws of Wilderness survival. So three subjects today, the place, my stupidity and the fluffy bunny story. Today its a road trip to Las Vagas then a rafting trip in the Grand Canyon.
Dakush and Tahquitz
Dakush was the legendary founder of the Cahuilla people and Tahquitz an evil demon with a taste for human flesh. The Mount Jacinto area was their home and it is little altered since this was the hinting grounds of the Cahuilla. The number of shattered trees, and burn areas indicates that Tahquitz is still active. You get there by the Aerial Tram which ascends 6000ft to its Mountain Station. Within a few minutes walk you are out of sight and sound of any modern human activity. Bar the odd hiker you are on your own, but with the benefit of well marked trails. Lizards and birds are everywhere, so too are various mammals although we did not see any on this trip. It’s a great get way from the scorching August heat at the mountain’s base. You get alpine glades that are straight out of the tragic scene in Bambi (Ok I was three at the time but I still remember it), pines and granite provide the topography and walking is a delight.
The plan, which we registered at the ranger station, was to walk up to Wellman’s divide and then proceed to the peak itself if we felt up to it, or return to the ranger station. We had a quart of water between the two of us. Now due to travel and the hassle of creating a new company I have had little exercise for the last three years. However the four miles and 1300ft climb went well, I had consumed one pint of water, my son the same plus a few sips of the second. However another thousand feet with no shade did not look attractive, but neither did we want to return the same way. A quick look at the map showed that a descent to Saddle Junction, followed by a gentle contouring return would work so we did it. Now the descent was a delight, and some great photos (all on Flickr). We reached Saddle Junction with a pint of water.
Then the problems started. The contouring route was harder than it looked on the map. We were fully exposed to the sun and there was no wind. The granite rocks reflected the heat. To be honest it was a nightmare. Rationed to a sip of water every half mile you have to move slowly. By the time we made it back (and I was not 100% sure we would at one point) the final ramp to the cable car station required two rest stops. Two pints of milk, one pint of water and an iced tea later I was still thirsty and neither of felt like eating that night. Now it was stupid. we needed four times the water, and we should not have departed from the registered route. Hopefully a lesson has been learnt!
Fluffy Bunny Story
On my last visit, Steve had arrived at a story conference being held in Palm Springs to take Cynthia Kurtz and myself on an early morning trip up the cable car. The conference was an interesting one. There were people there peddling patent software and method approaches guaranteed to produce a best selling novel or film script (why do people fall for this stuff) and a heavy fluffy bunny, isn’t story wonderful, if only people told stories world peace and harmony would arrive tomorrow, group. Needless to say there had been some antagonistic moments, but also some educational ones (there were some good delegates). On the final day a closing ceremony was planned and we originally intended to return in time. However the mountain was great, and sitting on the veranda at the Mountain Station at the end of walk to the secret lake we just decided to stay up there and miss the ceremony. I must admit it was not a hard decision, the ceremony was designed by fluffy bunnies, for fluffy bunnies, in the context of fluffybunnydom (a known psychotic state).
So we got back to the conference centre in time to say goodbye, but after the ceremony. Unfortunately the ceremony was still going on. It was like a Baptist Chapel mercy seat, drawn into the centre of the circle (everyone was holding hands) and made to account for ones absence. My main antagonist in the conference itself was leading the event. Evident powerplay here, the low voice, the platitudinous phrases, the requirement that everyone engage in the circle on her terms. My absence was to be used against me. However in one of those moments of inspiration that extreme adversity bring on, I remembered my time on the mercy seat (I did a good testimony). So I apologised to the group but proceeded to describe a deeply spiritual moment in the home of the Cahuilla people, with a deer coming down to the dawn kissed lake (Homer came in useful here with the rosy fingered dawn) which required by presence. It worked well, as we used to say in the 70’s: expose the contradictions inherent in the system.
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