Snowshoeing on Deer Springs Trail, December 27, 2008
Below is a brief report and photos of the trip up Deer Springs Trail in the San Jacinto Mountains by Tyler Schemper and Mark Vander Pol.
Southern California got hit with some big storms this December and because of this the SoCal mountains were covered in snow just begging to be played in! We rented some snowshoes and decided to see where we could go. We orginally decided to go to the Devil's Slide trailhead, but the road to Humber Park was iced over and unsafe for us to travel to. Since the Deer Springs trailhead parking is right off the main highway we figured this would be a good place to go.
Tyler's GPS didn't have this trail, and Mark's map was a little to large of a scale for us to determine where exactly the trail was so at the very beginning we had a little trouble finding the trail. Eventually we did after practicing our winter navigation skills for a while!
We figure for the most part the entire trail was covered in at least 1.5 feet of snow as this log demonstrates.
Tyler at the sign for the Mount San Jacinto State Wilderness. This proved to us that we were, in fact, on the trail!
For the first mile or so there were a lot of footprints of people who had gone before us the day before so we were able to follow their tracks hoping they knew where they were going! Here is Tyler walking up to a ridge to look at Tahquitz Peak (Click here for photos and a report of a trip there.)
This was Mark's first time ever wearing snowshoes! These rented MSR shoes were great! The bindings were super easy to put on (and remained so) and the toe crampons were perfect for climbing up decent inclines. Tahquitz Peak is in the background.
A winter wonderland! The photos don't do justice to how beautiful everything was. The day was absolutely perfect and we kept saying that. There was no wind to speak of and we were shedding layers from the beginning, we didn't even need to wear gloves!
Mark on top of the snow.
Tyler on a stump.
Tyler walking. After about a mile maybe 1.5 miles we were following only two pairs of snowshoe tracks.
The junction with the trail to Suicide Rock 2.3 miles from the trailhead. The tracks we were following were put down by two guys who set up a camp here to spend the night. They too had a hard time finding the trail at the beginning, but eventually got on track like we did.
We decided to press on towards Strawberry Junction and see how far we could get. From this point on there were no tracks for us to follow, but we quickly caught on as to how the trail looks in the snow. Everyonce in a while we had to stop and look around, but always found the trail. For confirmation Tyler's GPS had this trail loaded so we were able to check our position and were always dead on.
Snow on a rock and a view to the south.
Ice covered trees. Because the sun was out the ice on the trees was slowly melting and falling to the ground. At times some of these chunks were quite large and we had to watch out!
An ice-laden sapling.
Video of us snowshoeing.
Mark breaking trail.
Beautiful ice-covered trees.
We were getting close to our turn-around time and decided to stop a little short at a nice place with a view for lunch. So we sat down, took a break, ate lunch and hoped the ice on the trees above us didn't fall!
Our view while eating lunch.
Video of our lunch spot.
Snowshoes and poles. Because the snow was a little harder the lack of snow baskets on our poles wasn't really a problem. Every once in a while they pushed through, but overall they worked great.
Video of ice falling. You really can't see it, but if you listen you can hear it falling from the trees
Our way down was uneventful except the falling ice was greater so we both had hoods on for a while! We made really good time going down. Here we are back at the trail junction where the guys were camping.
There were some people who had come up without snowshoes and here is a picture of a hole their boots had made while we were floating on top!
So that was our short little trip. We were amazed that on a beautiful Saturday there were not very many people going up the trail. We only saw two other groups out for a hike and a couple people a little ways up the trail just to play in the snow. Once we got to the trailhead and near the road the place was crazy with people playing in the snow!
And to think we didn't see anybody for the first hour and a half and then nobody else for the next three hours.