The week of Oct. 16 I attended a meeting in LA
(Pasadena).  I get there 3 or more times per year on
business and always try to schedule a weekend before
or after for recreation of some kind.  On Sat. the
21st a desire not to repeat the past and pure whimsy
took me to Palm Springs and the tram up Mount San
Jacinto.  This is really a range of its own, separated
by a deep valley from the San Gabriel mountains which
run east west and form the northern rim of the LA
basin.  Both ranges are incredibly rugged with
precipitous granite flanks.  The dry desert valley is
the route of Interstate-10 and contains several
_thousand_ giant power generating wind turbines.  The
San Jacinto range lies directly on top of the San
Andreas fault and it is being pushed up rapidly as the
north american and pacific plates collide.  I was not
interested in Palm Springs, golf in the desert, or
casinos, I was there for the mountain. 

The tram takes you from the desert floor through 4
climate zones to 8500 ft. in 11 minutes.  You exit in
a forest of conifers and view a startlingly large
plateau with a half dozen peaks rising above.  It was
1 PM and I expected a short easy hike would lead to
the top.  I asked the girl at the desk about the trail
to the summit.  She gave me a blank look and the other
girl said, "That means the peak.  I worked here 3
years before I knew that."  I love California. :) 
Anyway it turns out that the peak was a 6 mile hike
one way with 2300 feet of elevation gain to 10,800 ft.

If you blow up the map and navigate around the route
is obvious.  I signed a wilderness permit and told the
ranger I would set a 4:30 turn-around time.  There
were warnings not to hike alone because of mountain
lions, but I would actually like to see one and so
hiked alone and quietly.  They are particularly active
near dusk.  

To my amazement, I kept passing people, several dozen
in all, 2 scout troops, one a high adventure group of
16 yr. olds.  Nobody passed me.  I just kept walking
steadily and was on top at 4:00.  Just below the
summit is a ranger cabin and a log.  I signed it
"Denis J. Bogan, Oct. 21, 2006, triple bypass on June
13, 2006", headed down and signed out at 6:15, just
before dark.  I am healthy and ready to ski.  

The day was brilliant and cloudless.  The last mile or
so of the trail to the peak traverses across a steep
open slope with an unobstructed view of the desert
10,000 feet below.  In winter you can ski here.  Most
stay on the high plateau and ski XC.  However in big
snow years backcountry skiers can descend 5000 - 9000
vertical feet of steep technical skiing.  One report I
read said that a 75 foot rappel was needed in the
middle.  Sounds out of my league, but I highly
recommend the hike.  

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