Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Hiking Devil's Slide

When my husband arrived home from work last Thursday evening, he asked if I'd like to go for a hike or something on Friday. He had a rare day of no meetings and thought it would be a great opportunity to take a day off and spend time together. What a sweetie! And, what a great thing for him to have a day off!

The weather finally started cooling down last week which made hiking a comfortable possibility. We quickly decided on a trail in the San Jacinto Mountains near Idyllwild, called, "Devil's Slide". We got up early Friday morning, had a good breakfast, loaded our day packs and drove up the mountain.  We made a stop at the Idyllwild ranger station for a permit for that trail and a wilderness parking pass.

It was a beautiful day!  The sky was blue with some desert clouds building in the distance.  I think the temperature was in the 70's to low 80's.  The humidity made it seem warmer, especially in the sun, but after the heat we've had the past few weeks, it was really nice!

There were interesting and beautiful things to see right from the start of the trail.
Check out this twisty tree.  I wonder what makes some trees do this?

Here's the whole tree.  It's dead but still standing strong and beautiful.

We saw another one later that day...

 Gorgeous blue sky!  And, more dead trees...but...the color and texture is beautiful!

So are the lines and shapes.  Strong and pretty!

This one looks like a dragon.  Click on it to make it larger and check out the scary looking head!

Little babies...trees of the future.

Hubby found a ring of bark on the trail, cleared out the center, and put it on my wrist.  A bracelet!
It was strong enough that it stayed on all day and didn't break when I took it off.  

The trail was two and a half miles long with 1700 feet of elevation gain.  It was a very good workout!

The terrain varied from smooth dirt, roots, rocks, steep drop-offs along the side,
and a couple of muddy sections.

There were a few sections that leveled out...slightly.  But, most of the trip up was just that, UP.
Lots of climbing!  There were some switchback sections that climbed pretty quickly.

At one point, we looked down and saw four sections below us.  I couldn't get a good
picture though because of all the trees.  But, here are two shots of some of them.

The steep climb made for a quickly changing view when we looked down the mountain and into the distance.  We started below the level of "Suicide Rock" (on the right side of the photo) but quickly climbed to a point that it was straight across from us.

And, in a very short time, we were above it and much farther away.  There was a marine layer over the valley that was slowly burning off and, even farther away, we could see clouds over the ocean.  What an incredible view it must be on a crystal clear day!

There aren't many flowers right now.  But, I did spot a few...like some Indian Paintbrush...

Some teeny, tiny flowers...

I think this might be Buck Brush...

Ranger's Buttons!  So cute!

We saw a few berries.  I think this is a Gooseberry.  Wicked!  Even the stems!  Hubby lifted a leaf out of the way so I could take a photo and it pierced his finger.  Ouch!

The above photo and the one below are from the same bush.  I love the colors in the one below.

More thorns!

We saw lots of lizards darting around and jumping from rock to rock.
Some were laying around, enjoying the sunshine.  They even posed for pictures!

So cute!

Now, I have more photos to use for sculpting lizards in my ceramics class.
Hubby is taking the class with me this semester.  :-)

We kept seeing tiny fur balls darting across the trail so fast that we couldn't get a good look at them.
We assumed they were chipmunks but weren't sure until this one actually sat still for a moment.

There were busy gray squirrels too.  Some of them had huge, fluffy tails.
I wasn't able to get any pictures of them.  But, I got a picture of this skinnier tailed squirrel
running around.  They all seemed quite busy getting ready for winter.

After a couple hours of hiking, we made it to the saddle junction.  I think the elevation is about 8,000 feet at this point.  There are lots of signs and trails that take off from this point.  Including, a trail that leads to Tahquitz Peak...the peak we went to last year but from a different side.

Even the famous Pacific Crest Trail runs through here.  A 2,663 mile trail that runs through the Cascade, Sierra, and other mountain ranges from the border of Canada to the border of Mexico.

At the saddle, we noticed strange things growing on the trunks of some trees.

Weird!  Creepy!

And, really big!

I also spotted this yellow growth.  The color is pretty but I wasn't about to touch it.  Eeeew!

From the saddle, we decided to follow one of the trails for a while and see where it lead.

The terrain started changing from mostly brown to partly green.

And, all of a sudden, we were surrounded by green fern.

The farther we walked, the greener it became and the fern got taller and taller.
It went from a few inches tall at the beginning to hip high further down the trail.

The clouds were getting bigger and gently drifting in front of the sun, giving us periods of shade.
It was gorgeous and magical up there.  I had no idea we'd find anything like this when we reached the saddle.  It was worth every steep step and all the heavy breathing and sweat!

We even came across a wet, boggy area.  I wonder if it's always there or if it was from the recent monsoon storms?  Either way, it's pretty cool and provides much needed water for the wildlife.

As we hiked back down, the clouds got thicker and darker but
we never heard any rumbling and they didn't seem to get any bigger or closer.

After our hike, we headed into the town of Idyllwild for a bite to eat.  We wanted to try a new place and decided on "Restaurant Gastronome".  They had outdoor seating under the pines with a terrific view of the mountain we had just climbed.  I had a delicious sandwich made with tender chicken on a soft, fluffy thin bread (I can't remember what they called it) with lettuce, tomato, purple onion and a yummy raspberry sauce.  Hubby had a delicious barbecue chicken wrap.  And, we had some ice cold beer.  The weather was wonderful, the food was delicious, and the company...there are no words to describe how wonderful he is!  I'm a very lucky girl!  Thanks, hubby, for a wonderful day!  


Sandra said...

what a fantastic day! the flora and fauna of your area are spectacular - you're making me want to visit!

jomomma said...

Aww that's so sweet! You are really lucky, my hubby hates to leave our zip code. As I was reading I could almost smell the scent of the pines. Were all the twisty trees dead? Do you think they may have been struck by lightening? You should ask a park ranger next time.

Benita said...

What a lovely walk you had. I like your bracelet.

And the fungus that you call Ewwww? I would be stealing a bit to take back and see if I could make a dye with it. :)

Roxie said...

What a splendid hike! The little purple berries are elderberries. You can make wine from them. And it looks as if you crossed the crest of the mountain and went from the rain shadow side to the wet side. Way cool!