San Jacinto Wilderness


My very first backpacking trip was to the San Jacinto Wilderness in the late 80’s.  My uncle took me up the Devil’s Slide and we camped near Skunk Cabbage Meadow, if I recall.  Larry and Spike came along, of course.

My uncle Steve wearing spandex, followed by Larry and Spike

I’ve been back many times since.  I took Jasmine there in the summer of ’98.  If my new girlfriend could handle the steep trails and a stinky tent, I knew she would be a keeper.

Jason and Jasmine, circa 1998. Yes, those are frosted tips.

Fourteen years later…  We have an 11-month-old son and it was time to introduce him to the wonders of the outdoors.

We were joined by fellow WI members Heather and Mike Lopez and their 2 year-old daughter Mia, and Nora and Cy Haripotepornkul with son Macallan.  The trip was a first for all our kids, and an initiation into the ranks of this fine organization we call Wilderness Innovations.  I would like to take this opportunity to welcome our newest associate Nora Haripotepornkul, who has finally fulfilled the last requirement for membership (an overnight backpacking trip).

Start of the hike @ Mountain Station

To keep things as easy as possible, we rode the Palm Springs Aerial Tram to Long Valley, at an elevation of 8,516 feet.  We got lots of looks of surprise and words of encouragement as we bumbled through the station with all our gear and the little ones riding in their packs.  The girls were in charge of the kids and the guys carried the critical cargo (food and diapers).

Packing up the trail.  Notice Cy’s outrageous pillow.

We headed for Round Valley, roughly 2 miles away with 700 feet of elevation gain.  We were able to take our time and enjoy ourselves.  The kids did really well, and we stopped for a couple of quick snack breaks to keep their spirits high.  Very much the opposite of most trips, where every effort is made to break the spirits of the weakest hiker.  Things are very different when we bring our wives and kids along.

Nora, Mac, Jasmine, and Zane

Hiking through a meadow of corn lillies

Having fun yet?

The campground was empty, and we tramped around until we found a nice clearing with space for three tents.  We let the kids run around for a bit, but they seemed to have the most fun playing inside our Kelty Cabana, which is really just a glorified sunshade.

Mia and Mac

Mac receives an important phone call

Mia doesn’t understand Zane’s fascination with dirt



You’ll notice that Zane isn’t wearing shoes in any of these pictures.  That’s because he doesn’t know how to walk, so what’s the point?  You’ll also notice that everyone is smiling in these pictures.  That’s because the trip was an awesome success and there was absolutely no crying, whatsoever.  Yeah, right.

Mia and her Lopezian eyes

Zane practicing his steps

Yup, more kid pictures

In retrospect, we should have switched Mac and Zane’s positions for this photo.  The angle makes Zane’s head look freakishly big, which I guess it sorta is.  I hope his giant skull houses a giant brain.

Jasmine and Zanatos

Cy and Mac

All the kids

We filtered water and ate dinner, and there was not much left to do.  No fires allowed in the San Jacinto Wilderness.  No lakes to cast a line.  Not many lizards to catch and eat.  We chased the kids around for a couple of hours and then went to sleep.

Zane, all tuckered out

Interesting sleeping position

I set my alarm for 6 am and packed everything up for an early start the next morning.  Jasmine and I planned to take Zane to the summit, and it would take at least 4 hours round trip.  We knew it was a bit ambitious, but I felt confident that Zane would be able to handle the mileage.  I’ve been taking him out on shorter training hikes so that he would be accustomed to the torture of being carried through beautiful wilderness while being fed delicious snacks.

Morning light

The bug in his bear suit

What a life

My alarm never went off, because I was already wide awake by 5 am.  I never sleep well on backpacking trips, and having a fidgeting baby by my side didn’t make things any easier.  We slipped Zane into the pack at 5:45 am and started up the trail to the summit.  We had 3.5 miles and 1,700 feet of elevation to gain, and I set a fast pace.

Dad, where are we going?

Looking back towards the top of Tahquitz Rock (far right)

Zane slept for most of the way, thankfully.  We made it to the spur that leads to the summit in just under an hour and a half, and a few minutes later we boulder-hopped up to the top of the peak.  No one else was around, the weather was perfect, and we fed Zane his breakfast of Cheerios and milk on the summit blocks.

Enjoying the view

Next stop, Mt. Whitney

Same peak, exactly 10 years ago

2012, without the ridiculous hat

Jasmine pointed out that Zane’s legs were wet, and it turns out that he had soaked through his diaper and then some.  These things happen, and I can only attribute the incident to Zane getting a bad case of summit fever.  I explained to him that on future trips, I expect him to make better decisions.  The mountain will always be there, after all.





Leave a Comment


You must be logged in to post a comment.