Monday, May 4, 2009

Double Disappointment Times Two


Warm temperatures were expected in the desert today so I decided to head up to the Palm Springs Aerial Tramway for a hike to Hidden Lake. Hidden Lake is a special little place not too far from the Tram and I've hiked there pretty much every year once or twice for the past fifteen years or so.

My time this morning was somewhat limited because I had to drop off kids at school and then pick up my son at 1 to get him to an Orthodontist appointment. Since the Tram goes up at 10 Monday-Friday I'd only have a couple of hours on the mountain.

I got to the Tram in plenty of time to get the first car up only to discover that my Tram pass had expired and I'd need to buy a new one. Plus, the price went up to $150 from last year's $120 (Don't these people know there's a recession? Who else is imposing 20%+ price increases these days?). So I plunked down money I hadn't planned on spending today and went up on the second Tram car. While sitting in the waiting room I noticed I could have bought the summer pass for $60 and it would have been good today through August 31. Oh well. I spent too much money and missed my Tram. I have a pass good until next year and I'm going hiking. It could be worse.

I hop on the Tram and head up the mountain. I plug in the new Bob Dylan album on my iPod to drown out the tedium of the tape they've played for years on the Tram. I guess it's interesting for first time visitors but when you've heard it hundreds of times, it is more than a little annoying.

I get a permit at the Ranger Station and head out to Hidden Lake. Now, Hidden Lake is a sensitive ecosystem so they don't publicize it. In fact, the State Park removed it from their map although it can still be seen on Google Earth and, oddly enough, on the topo map in the waiting area at the top of the Tram. Just don't ask me how to get there: I ain't telling.

I start out cross country and hop over Long Creek. It's nice to come up this time of year and see water in the creek. By the end of the summer, it is totally dry.

There is still some snow on the trails at the Tram but it's melting fast. It was a fairly dry year this year so there is not a lot of snow pack. I'd imagine the trails higher on the mountain will be completely clear of snow very early this year.

I head down from this trail junction to where Hidden Lake is. Every year, I'm sure hundreds, if not thousands, of hikers pass Hidden Lake and have no idea it's even there.

When I get to the lake I am in for another disappointment. The State Park has closed the area off to visitors. I've always felt the view of the desert from beyond the lake was the best on the mountain. I wanted some pictures of that but will respect the closure and head back instead.

Due to the low snowpack this year, I'm not really missing much by not being able to go down to the lake. It's really more of a puddle than a lake, with very little water. It'll probably be completely dry within a few weeks.

Despite my disappointment with paying too much for my pass and missing the first Tram as well as not being able to go to the greatly diminished Hidden Lake, I enjoyed my brief time on the mountain. There is something restorative to me being able to breathe the alpine air and I will certainly get my money's worth when the desert temperatures start to rise. I will be up here at least once a week. Because there's one thing that never disappoints me when it comes to the Palm Springs Aerial Tramway: perfect hiking weather.

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