Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Self Reliance


I have a hard time getting hiking partners. I don't know why but almost every time I have a hike planned with someone things don't work out.

Today, the plan was to go to Cahuilla Mountain above Anza and climb that. A guy from work has a second home in Anza so he wanted to do the mountain and then show me his place. Didn't happen. I went to pick him up at noon at work but he hadn't heard from me since we made the plan on Sunday so he said he wasn't sure we were going. Uh, we made a plan. Do I have to call every 15 minutes to confirm it? Oh well, I'll just do my own thing, as usual.

Instead of going to Cahuilla Mountain, I went to the Tram. Having paid $150 for an annual pass, I want to get my money's worth. I just wished I'd known flaker wasn't going; I'd have started at 10 a.m. instead of in the afternoon.

The Tram is great to hike any time of day but with limited hours I think I'll just head out to Round Valley and back.

After getting a permit at the Ranger Station, I hit the trail.

These Steller's Jays are very common in the San Jacintos. They are also very wily criminals. They hang around where people are camping and steal whatever they can. They are known as camp robbers or robber jays.

While I was following the Jay trying to get another shot, I saw something else that interested me. A side trail. I cannot resist any new place to explore so I ditched the Round Valley idea and went with this.

It quickly becomes obvious that this trail is used by climbers bouldering in the area. (The white marks on the rock are climbers chalk). Bouldering is a particular type of rock climbing that is typically done without ropes on low rocks, close to the ground, hence the name. Bouldering problems tend to be on the difficult side and a climber may spend hours just working on a couple of moves. I've never done a lot of it because I don't have the patience or the body needed to be good at it. The Tram is a popular bouldering area and with the quality and quantity of rock it is easy to see why.

I wander around a bit and find some boulders that are more my speed. Easy.

From the top I get a nice view of several peaks I have climbed. In the distance are Sheep Mountain, Martinez Mountain and Rabbit Peak. Also, on the left is a lesser known little peak called Long View Dome. From Long Valley, it is an easy scramble to the top. From the bottom, it is about six pitches of fun, easy rock climbing. Either way, the view from it is spectacular.

After some more wandering, I get a clear view of San Gorgonio Mountain and the pass below.

I also get a nice view of the North Face of Miller Peak, which is just to the east of San Jacinto.

On my way back, I come upon this little valley known as Shangri La. It is a nice flat little area not far from the Tram and is quiet and still as wilderness should be.

And it even has a perfect chaise lounge for the hiker to kick back and enjoy the tranquility.

While I didn't go very far today, I covered a lot of ground. Rather than be disappointed that my plans did not work out, I had a great time exploring. When all else fails, I can always count on myself and the mountains and, for a hiker, what else really matters?

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