Tuesday, July 14, 2020

Tahquitz Peak Hike

The hubby and I have been "baggin' peaks" recently, so when we found out he would have July 3rd off from work in observance of Independence Day (I currently have Mondays, Fridays and Saturdays off), we started brainstorming where we could hike and what summit we could climb. He loves Idyllwild, so he threw out the idea of tackling Tahquitz Peak.

A selfie near the top of Tahquitz Peak.

Although, truth be told, I was hoping for something a little longer than 8ish miles, I gave in because I knew the following weekend we were planning to be in Mammoth and hopefully would be hiking Clouds Rest in Yosemite on Sunday.

While looking into the Tahquitz Peak hike, we noticed folks mentioned the parking lot normally filled to the brim by around 6:30am on weekends and 7:30am on weekdays. We were technically going on a weekday (Friday), but because it was also a weekend (an observed holiday made it a 3-day weekend some places, not to mention with COVID who knows what businesses/ employees are doing these days...), we figured 'better safe than sorry' and planned to leave around 4:30am.

We made it to Idyllwild with zero issues. We knew from our San Jacinto hike a few weeks prior that the State Park Headquarters was closed and the permits required for this hike were being waived, but we still did a quick stop. Good thing too, it reminded us that we didn't have an Adventure Pass and needed one to park at Humber Park (where the trailhead leaves from). Thankfully one of the open gas stations sold them (normally our Annual National Parks Pass works in lieu of the Adventure Pass, but ours recently expired and we were waiting until we went to Yosemite to grab it again).

Oopsy... Thankfully we were still "in town" when we were reminded about needing
the pass so didn't have to do too much of a detour to go back and purchase one.

With pass in hand on the dashboard, we made our way to the trail. (We had been here a few weeks prior when we took the doggy to Ernie Maxwell Scenic Trail {originally we were planning to camp that weekend but we were turned away at the campground because the facilities were closed due to COVID and we didn't pack our cassette potty}.)

$5, but I don't mind it because hopefully it actually goes to the parks

Here is where I make a bit of a confession. I am TERRIBLE with directions. The hubby is often astonished if I remember a route somewhere or don't get lost. With that said, I leave the navigating up to him ;) Before we hit the trail he was taking screenshots of where we were going (in case we lost cell service) and studying the signs. I, on the other hand, spent my time taking pictures and trying not to annoy him too much. #WeAllHaveOurStrengths ;)

You start out at about 6,500 feet about sea level (which, for us beach folks it already "up") and top out at just over 8,800 feet. The hike to the peak is about 4-4.5 miles one way {depending on how many photo ops and detours you make ;)}, so as you can imagine, it's a decent climb up - gaining about 500+ feet every mile. Since my ankle is still healing from my major rolling incident at San Jacinto, we planned to take it slow and steady. When we arrived, the parking area was pretty empty (maybe only 4 or 5 cars). On the way up to the peak I think we passed about 3 or 4 groups of people (mostly just two people together, but one group had a few kids with what appeared to be parents). It was just about perfect weather (in the high 50s when we started) and it felt like we had the trail to ourselves.

What some of the trail looked like

Of course we had to veer off-course a bit when I saw this rock I could pretend to hold up!

June Gloom is gone and we could see pretty far in the distance.

"Hey, Carlee, will you take a picture of me and my CONES?!"

A decent amount of climbing, but man was it worth it!

The majority of the trail was shaded, which is much appreciated, especially when hiking in July. We both wore our hydration vests (the backs hold a 1.6L bladder and then we also have soft flasks in the front pockets that we normally fill with nuun to give a little flavor (and the hubby some caffeine)). We didn't go through nearly all of our water, but it is always better to be safe than sorry, especially when it comes to hydration. A few of the streams had some water in them, but for the most part you need to carry everything with you that you plan to use.

Some of the water dripping along the trail

My stomach was growling before we started (some days it's just like that), so I ended up taking my PROBAR BOLT chews every 45 minutes or so, but the hubby stuck to one serving every hour.

Pink Lemonade is my JAM!

When we got to the summit there were two other guys there, but they had camped the night before (so apparently we were the first people to hike up and summit that morning). We did a little chatting (teaching them how to say the name of the peak {ta-key-ts}, talking about trail running, etc), then we explored around the fire lookout. It wasn't open, but we could see in through all the windows. I'm sure being a fire lookout is a stressful job, but the views might make it worth the risk!

Duh, of course I'd hike that ;)

Selfie (since we didn't want to have to deal with trying to prop a phone up somewhere for a decent picture)

Up in the fire lookout

The wildfire must have gotten PRETTY CLOSE to the lookout if the trees are charred right there!

It was a bit hazy, but still a gorgeous view!

Whenever I have the choice, I will always choose mountains!

The summit sign was locked away in the lookout, but I snapped a picture through the window anyway ;)

Eventually it was time to cruise down. I'd say there are a few rocky areas, but, for the most part, the majority of the trail seemed runnable. The hubby said he'd do whatever I wanted, but I knew he was itching to take off, so when I felt comfortable I started jogging a bit. The ankle didn't feel bad, but I also knew we were planning to do Yosemite the following weekend so I didn't want to be careless either. I took it faster than a hike but slower than a run ;) Whenever I came to roots or loose rocks, I'd walk through that section. On the way down there were more folks out and about (we hit the summit by about 8:45am, so it made sense that once normal people started waking up they would hit the trails ;)).

Definitely not flying, but it felt great to flow for a few minutes.

We are so lucky to have all of these wilderness lands within driving range!

The hubby left me in his dust, but would wait for me every once in a while (either because he hadn't seen me in a few minutes or because there was a group of hikers coming and we were practicing social distancing). It took us about an hour and forty-five minutes to get to the summit and about an hour and a half to get back down. I don't stop my watch while we are out there. It had our roundtrip time at 3:20 with 8.88 miles and 2,300 feet of elevation gain.

I'd say we hiked up and I jogged down. We averaged around 22 minute miles, but that's with all of our pitstops included.

On the way back to the car I told the hubby that I wanted to give our Adventure Pass away to someone, unless he thought we would be able to use it again by the following day at 10am. I could tell with his "himming and hawing" that he really wanted to sleep in the following morning and wasn't too stoked to get up before 4am again, so we decided that if we saw someone driving in without a pass we'd offer it to them. Low and behold, when we were pulling out of our stop a couple was waiting for it (by this time there were no empty spots in the lot). They opened their window and asked us where we got our permit. We told them we bought it at the Shell station in town, but that we were done using it so they could have it. They were super grateful (not only that they got a parking spot and didn't have to drive back into town to get a permit, but that they got it for free) and we told them to have a great hike. All-in-all, we had left our place by 4:45am, got to the trailhead by 6:45am, had summited the peak by 8:45am, got back to our car by 10:10am and were home by noon. I will consider it a major success (especially since the ankle held up and didn't feel any worse for the wear).

Not only is the hubby snoozing, OBVIOUSLY, but his mullet that he is "farming" is in full form... 

Like I mentioned, the hubby loves Idyllwild (he even looks at real estate in the area for small cabins or plots of land we could build an A-Frame on), so I'm sure we'll be back to Tahquitz Peak again. If you haven't been before, you need to!

Be real, how are your directional skills?

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