The hike up Mt. San Jacinto was a long, grueling, 10 mile hike, above 10,000 ft, and it really showed me what determination was. Mt. San Jacinto is the highest peak in Riverside county, 10,834 ft at the peak. The route to the trail head is from the Palm Springs Aerial Tramway, the largest rotating mountain tramway in the world. The tram takes you 2 ½ miles to 8,516 ft. From there, there is about a 12 mile hike with a little over 2,000 ft of elevation gain to get to the tallest point in Riverside county. I knew that I would have to give it my all and persevere if I wanted to reach the peak I yearned for so much.
At about 6:30 AM, my dad and I got to the entrance of the mountain tram, where there was a fee of $30 to go up the tram, round trip. When we got on the tram and began the ascent up, the views were other-worldly, snow-topped trees, deers running about the meadows, and cascades falling off the ridges of the mountains. Similar to Barry Lopez’s description in, A Children in the Woods, the mountain was “caught in a pattern of sun-light”, and it was almost “trapped in a spiraling imperfection”. As we got to the end, the recent snow storm began to make its appearance, caking the ground with a sea of whiteness.
As the tram came to an end, we left, taking to the trail with our hiking shoes and crampons. Similar to the poem Snowbird, “…all the ground with snow was white” and we “printed” the snow “with stars”. We began our ascent, and were quickly the only ones on the mountain. Going through powdery snow for miles, we quickly learned this wasn’t going to be a simple amble. However, similar to Chihiro in Spirited Away, we rolled up our sleeves and pushed forward with each step. About 3 hours past the start of the hike, we reached the peak, 10,834 ft, and were the only ones for miles. The views were ethereal, picturesque views of neighboring peak Mt. Gorgonio all the way to the ocean. As we began to walk back, we were glowing in our achievement, truly feeling as we reached our maximum potential, getting to the epitome of human determination. We trudged back through the icy snow, drinking our half-frozen water and struggling against the bitter wind chill. We got to the tram, and took it down to our car. down, As we began to drive home, stopping at Chipotle, we began to think about what our next accomplishment might be.