One of the most enjoyable and surprising things about Southern California is the sheer diversity of different landscapes and vegetation zones that are “compressed” into a relatively narrow band of land.
The town of Idyllwild, somewhat hidden in the forest at an elevation of ~1600m, is only a two hour drive away from San Diego – yet when I left San Diego it was sunny with the typical pleasant temperatures for early December, and in Idyllwild there was a light snowfall when I arrived in the late morning.
I began my hike at the normally popular Humber Park trailhead and staging area – it was almost deserted. From there, I took the equally popular “Devils Slide” trail – and with the snow, it really was a “slide” in some places for a change, and I was glad that I had brought my trekking poles.
Up at Saddle Junction, where the Devils Slide Trail connects to the Pacific Crest Trail and other (local) trails, I had the majority of the ascend behind me, and continued on the Pacific Crest Trail towards Tahquitz Peak. Without the workout of hiking uphill, it was soon getting colder and I was glad that I had packed another jacket with better insulation, in addition to the fleece jacket that I was wearing. After changing, Toni and I had the lunch that we brought, and continued to the junction where the trail to Tahquitz Peak splits from the PCT.
Snowfall was increasing here and we were hiking right below the clouds. As we continued ever so slightly higher up, the trail that had been blazed through the snow by previous hikers began to fade, and finally disappear. Since I had never been to Tahquitz Peak before I simply didn’t know where to go, and how far it still would be. As it was getting late, I did not hesitate to turn around and head back – the prospect of hiking down the slippery Devils Slide trail wasn’t exactly compelling.
Later at home, I imported the tracklog that I had recorded with my GPS logger – only to find out that I had probably been something like 100m away from Tahquitz Peak and the fire lookout… I just couldn’t see it, it was hidden from view in the clouds! Nevertheless, it was still an enjoyable hike, and both Toni and me had a good time on the trail.
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