Mt. San Jacinto towers over the city of Palm Springs and rises 10,834 feet above the desert floor. The easiest way to reach the mountain top from the desert side is the cable car. The Palm Springs aerial tramway was completed in 1963 after many years of planning and building. All but one of the towers were constructed solely with the use of helicopters. The terrain is steep and harsh and a glorious ride to fresh smelling air and cool breezes. The temperature in Palm Springs was 107 degrees and the ten minute ride to the top of the peak resulted in a balmy seventy five for a wonderful day of hiking – I thought. Not being a recently experienced hiker, I chose to hike to Wellman Divide. I was told the view was spectacular and worth the hike so of course I went. Anything for a photo op.
The tram station is at 8,000 feet and Wellman Divide was 2,000 feet higher reached along a 3.5 mile trail. Sounds easy. Hiking from 8,000 to 10,000 feet when you are not used to altitude is challenging enough but most of the hike was a stair master of rock steps taking you to the top of a 200 story building. I plodded on beyond my level of experience to see the view, ending the upward journey at about three and half hours. I realized I had bit off more than I could chew, and now I had to swallow it.
For my first hike in a long time, I was too far out, and only I was going to get me back – but the view was worth all the pain in the end. The return was two hours of downhill and I didn’t stop. I figured if I stopped and rested, I might not be able to get back up and get going again. My legs were burning but I plodded on and on and on. The trail didn’t seem to end. I finally reached the tram station but forgot there was a four-story 30 degree walk-way as the final climb. I think I stopped eight times to rest on the way into the station. I will conquer this trail again, but after a little training on less difficult trails. I got my assed kicked!!!
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View from tram station – 8,000 feet.