September 24, 2017 at 10:30 am #395500
Did this 7/23/17.
Distance from pkg lot (via Garmins) – 13ish miles
Time (incl one long stop) – around 9.5/10 hours
– 19 mi on CA 243, a 2 lane mtn road
– No facilities in the dirt lot, and I got stuck in sand trying to 3-point out as I was blocked in. I scooped it away with my hands and have off-road on my car, so I got out, but be warned.
– First mile/two alternating steep sections with flats. I found some steeps to be steeper than Ski Hut and Vivian. So overall altitude gain is misleading as it is not consistent.
– About two miles in, there is a section of poison oak, with one area of it some big bushes you can’t avoid while going through. It touched my sides even when I tried to part it with my poles. More double-washing my gear to get the oil out and taking off my jacket with disposable gloves – ugh. I will report it to the ranger station.
– After the steeps, trail mellows to a more manageable, mostly dirt climb with some larger step-ups, one tree trunk crossing (though Forest Service was in the area doing maint so it may be gone now), and some granite slabs you need to traverse.
– There were also a few small water crossings, where water was very shallowly going over the trail. The pools around it were not flowing, so I did not fill up.
– At Little Round Valley (1.3 mi to peak), which is larger than its name implies, there is a nicely-flowing stream which I filled up at (filtered it). There also is a port-a-potty near the end of hiking through the campground. There was no TP and it was not the cleanest, so be prepared.
– The trail meets the tram trail close to the emergency hut.
– The summit yest had big clouds rolling in, so close it was like you could touch them! It was as magical as always, and a very special day!September 24, 2017 at 10:38 am #395509
For this trail, I was very happy I had my poles and my over-the-ankle, stick-like-glue, waterproof hiking boots! And layers – mountain peak can be cold even on a warm day.
Also, self-serve permits are available at the Stone Creek Campground about a mile before the Marion Mtn trailhead on Azalea. As you pull in, there is a little stand on the right with the permits and a pen.
On the peak, the emergency shelter had a bin with composition books (but no pen) if you want to leave a note, one pillow on the bunks, and one bottle of water. If you can, leave some water for someone who may need it. I had not seen it first time I did San J 3 mo ago, as it was too busy. It was really cool, and big thanks to the Conservation Corps’ hard work building such a secure shelter! Also thanks so much to the Forest Service for their hard work doing trail maintenance!September 24, 2017 at 10:46 am #395513
And contrary to what Jeff heard in his report, we saw nary a bug on our hike. Though it was cold – mid 30s when we left and only up to the 40s throughout the hike.
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