Cornell Peak, Miller Peak, San Jacinto Peak, Folly Peak
12 July 1998
By: Joe Young
Leaders: Joe Young, Virgil Popescu
Seven hikers met at the base of the Palm Springs Aerial Tramway at 7:30 AM. Participants had been forewarned that snow conditions would dictate which, if any, of the peaks we would climb. Because reports from the Rangers were optimistic, we decided to go ahead with the hike. It turned out that the snow was in fact minimal, and all four peaks were bagged.
We began our hike at 8:30 AM. Skies were clear and temps moderate. After obtaining our permit, we headed up the trail to Round Valley, then proceeded to Tamarack Campground and headed up towards Cornell. Actually I veered too far to the east of the summit, and we had to climb around some exposed rock in order to reach the proper gully below the summit. We all signed the register, and a couple of us, including Virgil, scampered up to the true summit.
We descended to the campground, then followed the trail to Wellman Divide, then proceeded to Miller Pk, with its plaque honoring Frank G. Miller. Here we took our first extended lunch break. Of course, the leader had to announce, "It's Miller Time."
We left the summit of Miller and proceeded directly up the east slope to San Jacinto. On this slope we crossed a significant amount of snow, but it was firmly packed and relatively easy to surmount. (If we hadn't chosen to ascend directly to the summit of San Jac, and instead had chosen to go up the trail, we would have crossed almost NO SNOW this day.)
There were at least two dozen hikers on the summit of San Jac. We stayed briefly on the summit. One of our hikers took a tumble on the rocky summit and banged up his thigh. He and one other of our group decided against going on to Folly and instead hiked back to the Tram station.
The remaining five of us dropped south off the summit of San Jac, then contoured over to the ridge leading to Folly Pk. It's easy to forget that the summit block is the last bump on the ridge, and stop to investigate false summits. The register on Folly was moist, so we let it dry out a bit. We enjoyed our second lunch on Folly.
We left the summit of Folly at 4:00 PM, following Virgil. We reconvened at the junction with the trail to San Jac, leaving this junction at 4:30 PM. We guessed it would take 2 hours to get back to the Tram station, and in fact the last of us arrived there just before 6:30 PM.
This had been a hike of 17 miles and 3,500' gain and we had hiked 10 hours. The weather had been delightful. Melting snows swelled the creeks, and the moist terrain was still quite green.
Thanks to Virgil for his excellent coleadership.
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