Sunday, September 25, 2011

Ramona Epic #24: San Jacinto Mountain (The Summit Views)

(GPS: N33 48.880 W116 40.765)

This continues the summit views from the top. I am looking toward the north, and San Gorgonio is in the background. There were people that went beyond the rocks you see to look down below. I had thought of doing that, but decided just to stay where I was and get ready to head back down when done with these pictures.

The next two are to the west:As you can see there was a lot of cloudy haze. The smoke was eventually coming too.One picture I had hoped to get was something to indicate where Hemet was since I have a picture of me from the Ramona Bowl looking up to here. All I can tell you is it is down there somewhere to the southwest:
Looking toward the south.More to the south where the smoke was coming from in San Diego County.
Let me give you some concluding thoughts on this one as I wrap this up:

This was not a really difficult hike compared to what I normally do. It is about a 2,500 ft. elevation gain in about 5.8 miles (11+ miles roundtrip). Getting there, getting my tickets, the permit, etc. was something I was just glad to be done with so I could relax on the hike. I did relax on the hike and my pace was not as fast as I could go since I purposely stopped for pictures and video on the way to the summit. I was just glad to be taking in the air. With that said, it only took me two hours to get to the top from the tram.

Much like any other touristy type of hike, and some of the same issues one faces on Mt. Whitney, most of the people I encountered was when I was on the way down. I knew this would probably be the case and is the reason I was only at the summit long enough to take pictures, video, and hydrate with a few drinks. Not that I have anything against people on this hike, but as the day goes on more and more people end up on a popular trail like this. What usually happens is I pull off the narrow trails to allow people through that are coming up. If I have to keep doing that it wears me down more and more from the constant stopping and starting. There is usually someone that tries to "interview" or "interrogate" me about how far they have to go, or if I saw someone ahead of them with a blue hat that they know. Most people keep these sorts of things brief, but sometimes I get people that want more details out of me, and that is when my brain starts to fade. The closer I got back to the tram the more people were starting their hikes and backpacking that afternoon. So, I ended up making really bad time getting back to the tram compared to going up. It was VERY SLOW moving on the way down!

To get back to the tram that last 500 ft. or so is going up a cement ramp. Lots of people were coming down here as I headed up it. I finally reached the point where I began the video, rested, did the beginning part of the video, took the tram down, did the video parts for the station below, and then had a relatively easy drive home.

This is a hike I had wanted to do for some years. It reminded me a lot of being in Yosemite. I can understand why people would want to come up the tram to just be up there. I have thought of going back just for that some other time. Most of my elevation hikes in So. Cal. do not give me that feeling. The forest and rocks do feel like being in a forest and not near the desert.

Finally, when I was reading the Ramona book I was very excited to see that this mountain was where Ms. Jackson sent Alessandro and Ramona. So, I knew I had to do it, and this hike was the final thing I had to do for this series. Unfortunately, due to the way schedules work, I was not able to get up here in 2010. I was a bit stressed over that because I would have been disappointed not to have been able to include this as part of the series. Also, as I write this, the tram is usually down for maintence in September, and then one faces winter conditions. There are other factors involved, but I was glad to get this done in July, 2011. When I was at the summit I was truly relieved not only to have the hike "done", but also that I had completed all I needed done for the Ramona project at that point.

Ramona Epic #24: Mt. San Jacinto (Youtube Version)

Ramona Epic #24: Mt. San Jacinto (Vimeo Version)

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Ramona Epic #24: San Jacinto Mountain (To the Summit)

Other than getting to the summit, the one other thing I had a curiousity in was the San Jacinto Hut near the summit. It is a storm shelter and has a registry to sign inside of it. On the way up I bypassed it completely other than taking a few pictures and video because I wanted to get to the summit.Unfortunately, I did not get to go into it. I thought I saw some people come out of it that were getting ready to backpack somewhere. I was pretty sure there were people in it while I was heading up. I then tried to enter it myself and it appeared to be locked. It was a minor disappointment, but since I had been in other shelters like this before (ex. The Whitney Summmit Hut) I was more than happy to keep on moving down.

From the hut to the summit there is a few hundred feet of elevation gain. The issue here is that this is the only part of the hike that you have to scramble over boulders. In my picture you can barely see the moon overhead, and there are some people hanging out on the right near the summit.
There were a bunch of people at the summit. Many people were having their picture taken near the very top. There is a sign that gives the elevation and a few benchmarks. Right next to it is a rock or two that gets you to the highest point. After a few people came down from the top rocks, I made my break for the high point and got out my camcorder and started to do a quick pan video of the summit. I then took some pictures in all directions. I ended up doing it really quickly since more people were coming to the spot near the sign.

This first picture is looking toward the southeast where I started at the top of the tram:
Just panning slightly to the left and still looking toward the southeast.
This is looking toward the east and into Palm Springs.More to the northeast in the following picture:
I was on the 2nd highest mountain in southern California, but San Gorgonio, just across the way on the left side of the picture, is the highest. You will notice that one never truly escapes trees on this mountain.

I will continue the summit views in the next blog.

Ramona Epic #24: Mt. San Jacinto (Youtube Version)

Ramona Epic #24: Mt. San Jacinto (Vimeo Version)

Friday, September 23, 2011

Ramona Epic #24: San Jacinto Mountain (To the Hut)

From Wellman's Divide the elevation part of the hike really stars to kick in. Nothing too strenous, but I think I enjoyed this part of the hike more than the climb up from Round Valley. This is where you start heading back east more in the direction of Palm Springs.
There comes a point where there are two very long switchbacks. On the trail of the first one I looked back. You can see the hazy clouds around, but there was one in the background of concern.That wasn't a cloud. It was smoke. That was coming from San Diego County. It was not too bad that morning, but later on in the day coming back down, the smoke started to reach Mt. San Jacinto. You could smell it, and it gave the sunlight an orange look all around.It still seemed like a long way to the top from below, but in reality of the hike it was very close.This is along the second long switchback. I really did not know how much longer I had to go, but felt pretty good. It was at this point I started encountering a few people on their way down from the summit. I did not ask, but I was quite sure that I was almost done based on my prior experience of these types of mountain hikes.I did encounter a sign that said I had a .3 miles to the summit. While I was taking pictures, a man with a backpack came from the other side. He had spent the night below and was hiking some trail coming from Idyllwild. We both agreed it was time to finish this hike up. Not too long after I saw the San Jacinto Hut just below the summit.

Ramona Epic #24: Mt. San Jacinto (Youtube Version)

Ramona Epic #24: Mt. San Jacinto (Vimeo Version)

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Ramona Epic #24: San Jacinto Mountain (To Wellman's Divide)

(GPS: N33 48.780 W116 38.320)

"'To San Jacinto,' he said. 'San Jacinto Mountain. Do not look
back, Majella! Do not look back!' he cried, as he saw Ramona,
with streaming eyes, gazing back towards San Pasquale. 'Do not
look back! It is gone! Pray to the saints now, Majella! Pray! Pray!'"

In chapter 20 of Ramona, Alessandro and Ramona are driven off their land and retreat to Mt. San Jacinto. I thought I would put up N.C. Wyeth's artwork here:

From what I can tell, Helen Hunt Jackson never stepped on Mt. San Jacinto. Alessandro mentions Saboba at the foot of Mt. San Jacinto which is the way it really is. They decide not to go there since it too is a poor village and they would probably be kicked out of there too. So, he decides to go up higher onto Mt. San Jacinto which means freedom to him, but it is also a sign of desperation.

Since these are fictional characters, and Helen Hunt Jackson really did not go into detail about where they were on this mountain, I will be referring to this mountain in very broad terms. Normally, on a mountain hike, I refer to the high peak as the main mountain peak and the sub-peaks as something else, However, for this hike when I refer to Mt. San Jacinto I am talking about the whole hike and everything you see. The point of this hike is not to point to some place and say that this is what Ms. Jackson was referring to, but to let you use your imagination with the pictures and see where Alessandro and Ramona would have lived in the fictional world of the book based on the real mountain. So, for the next few entries you will see the type of terrain they would have lived in whether Ms. Jackson completely knew about it or not. She could have experienced some of the lower levels of the mountain on the western side, or could have talked to people that had been on it.

This is from HWY 10:

In the last few blogs I covered the tram that gets you to around 8,500+ feet level. That morning I knew I was to get out of the tram as quick as possible, walk 1/4 of a mile to the ranger station, and get a hiking permit. There were a few people ahead of me, but I signed the permit at roughly 8:15am that morning. It was a quick process, and I was glad that all the tasks of the morning, like driving to the station, getting a ticket for the tram, and finally the permit were done so I could really start doing what I was there for.

I was now in a forested area. The desert floor was nowhere to be seen. Not too far off one encounters a few streams along the trail.

One thing this hike reminded me of is walking through Yosemite. Lots of trees blocking the sun, and huge boulders off the sides of the trail. At this point, early on, there was little elevation.My pace was pretty good and I was rather relaxed taking in the air. There were, from what it looked like, Conservation Corps type of members coming in the opposite direction toward the tram that I saw at several points. For most of this hike on the way to the top I had very brief interactions with people. On the way down it was a different story which I will get to.

Eventually, I got past the meadows of Round Valley. There was some wildlife out, but when I got to Round Valley that is where I saw a bunch of campers since that is where they usually go to camp here overnight. Not too far after that is where I started to hit some short switchbacks and the elevation started to pick up. After some leg work, I saw the trees open up a little and realized I was about half-way done with the hike.I had reached Wellman's Divide. I finally got to see some of the area from up high.

I have read that you can see Palomar Observatory from here on a good day. It is off somewhere to the right. The day I went it was rather hazy, and there was another factor I will get to eventually that made the views a little more hazy that I would have liked, but I was enjoying this hike.

The trail does split here into other trails. One trail goes off and around the right side of the above picture. My trail to the top of the mountain was just behind me. I briefly talked to a few men here and off I went. The hike from the station to the top is about six miles, and it is around three miles to get to this point. However, most of the uphill was from this point on.

Ramona Epic #24: Mt. San Jacinto (Youtube Version)

Ramona Epic #24: Mt. San Jacinto (Vimeo Version)

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Palm Springs Tram (Going Up the Tram)

The way the tram works is, throughout the 12+ minutes to the top, it rotates so that you get to see in all directions while standing in the same spot. If I remember correctly, you end up doing two full rotations on the way up. Taking pictures and video is somewhat difficult here. Partly because of the window in front of you moving and some of the structures of the tram that move into your way because of this. I did get a few shots just to show you what it looks like. This was in the morning looking back down to where we started.A little higher:This was at the top right before I came back down:The Palm Springs Tram (Youtube Version)

The Palm Springs Tram (Vimeo Version)

Monday, September 19, 2011

Palm Springs Tram (The Inside)

Dean Martin and Sharon Tate run through the entrance of the station:In the previous blog, I was just standing outside of the doors here. This is the entrance they would have gone through for the movie.
They then run through the station to get tickets.
Things have definately changed and modernized, but you should see traces of the windows, the door, and the stairs that appeared in the movie. You purchase tickets on this side now.
In the movie they purchase tickets on the other side.
There is a point where Sharon is inside a restroom and Dean is down on the floor trying to hide from the villains. I really thought I would be able to get that, but I am not sure that area exists like that these days.

In the above picture, there is a small passageway in the background on the right. We hung out near the chairs by there that morning, and then around 80 people got in the tram to go up the 6,000 ft. The tram is built to keep rotating while you go up and down it. So, you are not always facing one direction, but will have views in all directions in the 12 minutes it takes to do it. In the next blog entry I will show a few pictures of how it looks from inside the tram.

The Palm Springs Tram (Youtube Version)

The Palm Springs Tram (Vimeo Version)

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Palm Springs Tram (The Stairs)

To purchase tickets to get to the tram you have to climb some stairs. In The Wrecking Crew they show Dean Martin and Sharon Tate go up some of the stairs, but then shortly after they show the villains go up all the stairs. Like so:These days:
From the above picture point of view, these stairs take you to the left up to where the camera was. Dean and Sharon here:
You will see they have added a wall:
So, there are some changes here in comparing to how it was over 40 years ago, but you should still be able to recognize this area easily. In the next blog entry I will show you some of the inside where you purchase your ticket and go up the tram. Things are much different now, but you might see a few traces of what was once here.

The Palm Springs Tram (Youtube Version)

The Palm Springs Tram (Vimeo Version)

Friday, September 16, 2011

Palm Springs Tram Station (Outside)

(GPS: N33° 50.240 W116° 36.840)

This blog starts a series of entries on my visit to Palm Springs. Actually, most of my time was spent near the Palm Springs Tram and not in the desert city. What you are about to see in the next few entries is really at the end of the day right before I started to head home. When I drove out there that morning I got up early and was there after a less than 2 hour drive. I got there before the first tram takes one up the mountainside. Rather than deal with the bad early morning lighting, I decided to wait until I got back down to take pictures. The disadvantage of doing this was I was really tired, and it was very hot at the parking lot. Still I wanted to put something together on this before I left. Believe me, I really had to push myself to just get these pictures because I was really losing my enthusiasm at this time. So, this is one of those that I was more concerned about giving you some approximate locations rather than try to fine-tune and get exacts spots while I was there.

Lots of movies and tv shows have been filmed here. My example for this will be The Wrecking Crew with Dean Martin and Sharon Tate. In that movie they are chased in their car up here by the villains in that movie. There is only one way to get here and they use the road below when they enter and the villains are tailing them.
Then turning around from what you see in the above picture, you can see the Palm Springs Tram Station and that is where Dean and Sharon go with their car.My picture to give you an idea of how it is these days here.In the movie, they cross a bridge, turn around, and go back to the front entrance to the station.My picture on the bridge looking up to the station.
The Palm Springs Tram (Youtube Version)

The Palm Springs Tram (Vimeo Version)

The Palm Springs Tram (Official Website)

The Wrecking Crew (IMDB)

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Ramona Epic #23: Driven From Their Land

The white men come: in the book and the play, there are major concerns over Americans coming to California and taking the land previously owned by the Indians and the Californios. After the all the changes in their lives and all that is happened, Ramona and Alessandro had achieved some stability...until now...

Ramona Epic #23: Driven From Their Land (Vimeo Version)

You will notice that Alessandro mentions that to be free they must go up to the mountains. This is something that very much relates to this blog. I definately can understand what he is saying about that. So, there is a sense of desperation, yet escape to a better place.

Monday, September 05, 2011

The Arch (The Alabama Hills Series)

(GPS: N36 36.820 W118 07.550)

I have mentioned this one before, but I thought I would give the Alabama Hills Arch (aka the Mobius Arch) its own blog entry. Roaming around the Alabama Hills one can find a lot of arches. It is not really my thing, so you will not see me posting many of them. There was a time just a few years ago that this one was a lot more difficult to find than it is now. I remember having to scramble to get to it. These days you can just find a nice trail to it with a sign with a picture of the arch that indicates it is the trailhead for it.
I would say it takes around 7-10 minutes to walk to the arch. The dirt turnout near the trailhead usually has a few cars parked, so this arch has become a popular site in the Alabama Hills. To get there and have it to yourself takes a bit of planning.

It has become a rather common shot people make. Just a few days ago on's Picture of the Day it was shown with the moon through the window. My father owned old photography magazines that had it in it. As I show in my video there are lots of pictures of it around one can encounter. It is a bit overdone, and AFAIAC the people that really like this arch can have it and spend all their time in the Alabama Hills there.

My previous mention of this arch is here.

Speaking of the Alabama Hills. All those videos can now be found on this playlist.

Recently, in the Alabama Hills I had funny encounter out there. While on the way to one of the rock formations I needed to video I passed a bunch of different people at different points on the way to my destination. It was the most I have ever seen out in these areas apart from the festival. I had a schedule to keep since my ride was patiently waiting for me. So, I was walking quickly, but was sure to greet anyone that I quickly passed by. However, there was a husband and wife I evaded as I walked on a different trail. As I passed behind some rocks I heard shouted at me, "Do you know where the world famous Gene Autry Rock is?" I then stopped turned around and pointed out the rock. The response was, "Okay, just wanted to make sure you did not accidently bypass it without knowing where it is." I just kept walking, laughed back, and said, "Oh yeah, if you only knew!" Apart from the festival, I have never had anyone try to point out any of these rocks to me while I was there.

Just a few housekeeping issues and a few tibits as we get to the end of summer and start approaching fall around here...

I took most of the summer off from editing any new videos. Yeah, you saw a bunch of new ones during the past few months, but almost all of them were completed before the summer started. I just started doing some new edits this weekend with a more recent version of Sony Vegas that has new features. Those will be coming soon.

Recently, on the Youtube account I deleted a few of the older videos. Some I am going to re-do in the future, and others were experimental videos that can still be found on Vimeo. The reason I deleted them is most of them were not really being viewed anyways, and they sampled music that, due to the sensitivites of copywrite on Youtube, could be blocked in the future. As they were, they were not that important to me to keep on there so I thought it best to take them down. All of those videos are still on Vimeo at this point.

I am continuing to upload a lot of new versions of locations I have done before. So, check my Youtube and Vimeo channels if you have not seen them.

Thursday, September 01, 2011

Ramona Epic #22: "Bless This Child"

In the story over a year has passed since Ramona and Alessandro were married (my previous blog on this). They are now living with the Indians in the San Pasqual Valley which is north of San Diego, and Ramona gives birth to the their baby: Eyes of the Sky. The child is blessed, and a celebration takes place.

Ramona Epic #22: "Bless This Child" (Vimeo Version)

One thing to note is I faded about the time Alessandro put his arms down. You might think I cut out early, but everyone started clapping right as the video ended because the scene was over.