Hands down most beautiful hike thus far. Not only was this the highest peak I’ve ever summited, but it was also my first backpacking experience! The beginning was very rough (steep) as was expected, but then we reached this beautiful lush green area that felt magical, were surrounded by towering pine trees. 5 miles in we reached High Creek Camp, we knew we were close when we saw the water fall. Very nice camp with lots of logs at the sites for seating and naturally breaking up different sites. No fires allowed, which made for some beautiful star gazing!
We left our big packs in the tent the next morning for the last 3 miles to the summit and picked them up on the way back. The switchbacks were intense, but when you get past them, there are some BREATHTAKING views of San Jacinto and surrounding mountains. And yes, there was still a ways to go that also took my breath away…this time due to elevation. When we reached the summit we were high above the clouds and were greeted by tons of cute little ground squirrels!
Way down was pretty steady. The last mile-ish was really tough on the knees and I was ready to be done. All in all, favorite hike so far, good backpacking experience….though I think I’ll pick a hike with less elevation gain next time ;]