T his past weekend my girlfriend and I took a quick trip to Palm Springs to check out Mount San Jacinto via the world’s first 360 revolving tram. We have been looking forward to this trip for a while since it has been several years since I went and at least a decade since the last time my girlfriend visited this place. We actually came here almost a year ago but due to high winds, we weren’t able to go up the first time and decided to check out Joshua Tree which was another hour and a halfway (Definitely a good alternate plan if the tram is closed) Luckily the conditions were right and we made our way up there. After our hour and half drive from San Diego, we finally made it to Palm Springs. While driving to Palm Springs, we encountered strong winds which pushed my small Versa across the lane. Sketchy! We were afraid that the tram was closed again and we’d have to reschedule everything. We were crossing our fingers at this point. We arrived to see a line of cars at the entrance and we were very relieved. After paying the entrance fee, you can’t help but admire the towering San Jacinto mountains. It’s crazy to think that man has conquered these heights and put a revolving tramway. I’m not gonna give a history lesson on the tram as their website provides plenty of information.
We boarded the packed tramway that would scale the side of the 10,834 foot Mount San Jacinto. As we departed from the viewing platforms of Valley Station at the bottom the mountain, it doesn’t seem that tall but it’s totally different when you’re actually right next to the cliff face. If you are afraid of heights, the next 10-minutes will definitely mess with your nerves as you look down on the desert city of Palm Springs. If the heights don’t get you, the swinging tram car will definitely get to you. The cool thing about that 10-minute ride is that you can see how altitude changes the geography. Coming from someone who’s used to the beaches, seeing the environment change in front of you is pretty damn cool.
After reaching the top, you are greeted with the snow-covered landscape and tall pine and oak trees soaring over you. One thing I immediately noticed was the smell of how fresh the air was up there. Living in the suburbs and working in a busy city, I tend to forget what fresh is and take it for granted. Another thing I noticed was how quick the clouds moved through the summit. It would be cloudy and overcast for five minutes then it would change to bright and sunny. Really dramatic. Kind of reminds me of those opening scenes of a movie where fog/clouds move through the peaks and valleys of a mountain… Anyway, I really don’t know how to describe the stuff I saw so it’s time for the pictures.
Mount San Jacinto State Park is suited for everyone and has plenty activities for the amateur, avid, or extreme outdoorsman/outdoorswoman alike. For the hardcore, they can start at the bottom, hike there way up, and camp overnight at the top. You’ll see stellar views of Palm Springs City at night. (something I really want to do eventually once I find the time and build my backpacking kit). The PCT also links up with one of the trails in the park. For the amateur outdoors-person like my girlfriend and I, there are a couple of trails scattered throughout the park that could take a couple of hours to complete. Due to the snow, there were plenty of people who brought their sleds to capitalize on the small hills on top (PS Don’t be a dick head and leave your broken sleds around. Be responsible and take it to the nearest park attendant/station).
Our stay was brief as we didn’t have adequate supplies to go on the longer hikes. Plus, our second pair of socks were wet so we didn’t want to run the chance of ruining our feet for the day. Once we got back to the Mountain Station, we were pretty beat and hungry. Luckily they had some bomb fries (they were good at the time). Definitely not the best but after walking for two hours or so, these things hit the spot. Although our stay was short, this was a place that my girlfriend and I wanted to visit since last year. It was good timing because the semester just started for her and I recently received a promotion at work so we both agreed that it was a nice break from reality and recharge our “batteries”.
With that being said, whenever you need a break from life, get out there and explore the world around you. You won’t realize how much you needed it.