Monday, May 6, 2013

Day 15 - Fuller Ridge & the Banning Fire 5/1

By Hedgehog

Starting Mileage: 181
Ending Mileage: 191.3

We awoke after a night of howling winds and decided to take our time and enjoy the San Jancintos.
For several reasons; their beauty, their coolness (It was a lovely 70° day in the mountains and it was in the 90s on the valley floor), once we started the decent it would be 14 miles of switchbacks to go 4.5 miles as the crow flies (frustrating), and my feet hurt.

So we hiked mostly along a ridge line but with bouts of elevation change.
We also encountered several patches of snow. They were traversable in a few steps and not particularly hazardous.  In a typical year the snow would have been a much bigger factor,  but snowfall was about 50% of normal in this area.

As we hiked during the morning we were offered several views of Palm Springs. In fact, via a side trail there is a tram that you can take from the mountain right into the city. Neither of us have been there but we decided we'd visit another time. 

About midway through our day we came to the N Fork of the San Jancinto River. We refilled our water supply and then decided to take a leisurely lunch along its banks.  While we were enjoying lunch and sunshine we rinsed out some of our clothes. 

Several of our fellow hikers came by as we relaxed (Double Sprainbow, Roid Trip, Iceman, Catywampus and Allen)
In my hiker brain the "weird" name there is Allen. Not to worry though he's a good guy.

After lunch we continued on and came to Fuller Ridge. Fuller Ridge is generally viewed with some apprehension as it is narrow and winding but with no appreciable snow cover thus year it was just dramatic. 

About that time BooBoo pointed out that the clouds weren't looking right. She thought it looked like smoke.  I didn't think it looked like smoke. From the post title I'm guessing you know who was right.

A few miles later, as we reached the edge of the ridge and our campsite (right before the long decent) we could clearly make out the fire below. Thankfully for us the wind was blowing it away from the PCT.
BooBoo had cell signal and found out that the fire had started shortly before she noticed the smoke earlier in the day and that due to temperature & winds it was 0% contained.

A few more hikers came by after we setup camp, all of them with a wary eye toward the fire.

That night the smoke and soot made for a colorful sunset.

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