Backpacking San Jacinto State Park

This past weekend I had my first backpacking adventure in the Mount San Jacinto Wilderness.  Don't I look prepared for it in this photo?
I went backpacking for two nights with a Recreation class. My friends were teaching the class and they had asked me to be a driver for them.  I had kind of talked them into teaching the class and was excited to have a chance to go on my first backpacking trip with them and the students.
The trip was in the San Jacinto Wilderness, but basically it was just outside of Idyllwild. I've camped in Idyllwild many times (cabins, as a camp councilor) and didn't realize the San Jacinto Wilderness was so close.  It was cool to realize I had been in this area as we drove up the hill.
The weather this past weekend was not the best.  It was raining on our drive up the mountain and cold when we started the hike.  It wasn't raining on the hike up, but it was chilly and damp.  One cool thing was that fall had come late to Southern California so the leaves were changing color and decorating the trail.   The hike up was about 2.5 miles and everyone went at their own pace.  I was more toward the back (I have mentioned I am not that fast of a hiker before) but that was no problem.  The group ahead of me would stop for breaks and everyone would catch up with each other.
My friend Matt (one of the instructors) had given me everything I needed to backpack except clothes and boots.  He let me use all of his stuff and even brought all my food!  I was very spoiled on my first backpacking trip. Here is Matt cooking dinner for me the first night.  I had the Beef Stroganoff with Noodles.....

 And here is my tent alla Matt.  I did carry everything but my food up the hill including my tent.
The weather that night was VERY cold.  We all got in our tents at about 4:30pm when it started to rain and get windy.  I was so cold that night I wore every piece of clothing I brought to bed, including three pairs of socks.  I was still very cold all night...
The next morning I woke up and Matt made me some instant coffee and I was ready for the day hike.  Most students went with Mark (my other friend) on a 12 mile hike to the top of Mount San Jacinto.  It is the highest peak in Southern California, according to Mark, and the pictures from the top were awesome.  The view was not good because of all the weather, but some students brought back pictures of trees covered in ice.  Very cool.

Me?  I decided to do the short (3mi) hike to Tahquitz Point.  I mentioned before that fall had finally come to Southern California and my favorite thing on this hike was walking through the ferns.  In the summer the ferns would cover the ground and be a sea of green.  This time of year, they are a carpet of gold under the canopy of trees.  I had never seen anything like them before and would stop to take pictures whenever I saw them.  Truly enchanting.

 Another cool thing about this area is that the Pacific Crest Trail (PCT) travels through part of it.  I had just finished reading Wild, a story of a girl hiking part of the PCT and was excited to get to say I hiked the Pacific Crest Trail!
The views on the trail were pretty amazing.  Below you can see the weather we were above.
Backpacking in the wilderness is a little different then camping in a camp ground.  For example, where are you aloud to camp in the wilderness?  At a camp ground each site is marked, but in the wilderness? It turns out the sites are marked as well.  You just need to know what to look for.  In the San Jacinto Wilderness spots to camp are marked by two rocks, a log, and two more rocks.  See the picture below.  Once you know what to look for, it is easy to find a place to camp.
The second night was an other cold one.  I think most of us turned in again at 4:30 (it was still windy) but on this night I remembered that Matt had given me hand and feet warmers!  I still wore a lot of clothes to bed, but boy did those feet warmers make a difference!  The low that night was 35 degrees....
The next morning everyone had breakfast and then packed up for our hike home.  It was still cold but I think I might have been adapting a little because it didn't seem as cold.  Matt snapped a picture of the group before we headed out.

I had a great time backpacking this past weekend.  I felt safe with the group and pushed myself out of my comfort zone just a bit.  The students were nice and I had my own personal chef the whole weekend.

Backpacking San Jacinto State Park gets a big thumbs up from me!


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