I‘m not sure how I feel about this section or I mean how I’m going to feel about it….right now I’m excited just thinking about it and I hope I feel the same way but after more than a week hiking through the desert in the previous section, looking up at the mountains might make me want to cry. If you think of mountain trails as walks in the park then you are just the person I need to be hiking with, contact me and let’s make a plan.
The plan is to leave Warner Springs the morning of April 23rd and arrive in Idyllwild around mid-day on the 26th, take a bit of a break, enjoy some fine food (compared to trail food), shower and leave on the 28th for Big Bear City which is 64 miles into the next section.
From The Guide Book
The San Jacinto Mountains are the high point – and the highlight – of the Pacific Crest Trail’s excursion through the northern Peninsular Ranges, and they afford the first true high-mountain air and scenery of your journey. But this section of trail also includes many miles of walking under shady live oaks and through the shameless chaparral community (see below). On the Desert Divide, where you have your first taste of the San Jacinto Mountains, you find an interesting combination of pine forest, chaparral and desert species. Leaving the San Jacintos, the PCT plunges almost 8000 feet down to arid San Gorgonio Pass, and in so doing passes through every life zone in California save for the alpine zone.
The Peninsular Ranges stretch from the southern tip of Baja California, paralleling the coastline, some 900 miles north to San Gorgonio Pass, which truncates the range along the Banning Fault and lesser faults. The range’s core, forming the Laguna Mountains, the Anza Uplands and the San Jacinto Mountains, where the PCT winds, is made of crystalline rocks – granite and it’s relatives – which were first intruded in a liquid state several miles beneath the surface and then later solidified. These rocks are similar in age and kind to the granitic rocks of the Sierra Nevada.
Your walk from Warner Springs to San Gorgonio Pass treads mostly upon these rocks, which are usually fine-grained, gray-to-creamy in color, and strongly resistant to weathering, as demonstrated by obdurate monoliths around Indian Flats and Bucksnort Mountain, by outcrops jutting from the alluvium of Terwilliger and Anza valleys, and by the jagged, saurian spine of the San Jacinto Mountians, as on Fuller Ridge. The remaining of the terrain you tread is across either sand and gravel weathered from the granite, found in basins, or metamorphic rocks. These rocks are seen in Agua Caliente Creek’s canyons and along much of the Desert Divide.
Section B ends at San Gorgonio Pass, a broad, cactus-dotted trough running east-west, flanked by the San Bernardino and San Jacinto Mountains to the north and south respectively. Once a major corridor of Native American traders, San Gorgonio Pass is bounded by faults on either side. It lies some 9000 feet below the summits of San Jacinto and San Gorgonio, each standing just a few air miles to one side.
Proof that awesome geologic processes are at work today can be seen right at the start of this section, at Warner Springs. Now a tourist spa, but used for centuries past by neighboring Cahuilla and Cupeño Native American tribes, the hot springs here bubble up from deep within the Aguanga Fault, which cuts just yards behind this small resort community. Warner’s hot springs also served Kit Carson in 1846, and was an overnight stop on the Butterfield Stage Line from 1858 to 1861.
Section B now also traverses the new crown jewel of the Peninsular Ranges – Santa Rosa and San Jacinto Mountains National Monument. Created in October 2000 to protect 272,000 acres of mountains along the vast eastern sweep of thoes ranges, the monument stretches from the Anza-Borrego Desert State Park boundary on the south to the San Gorgonio Pass on the north. National designation will hopefully give added protection to the historical, and cultural resources found along this rugged mountain crest, and help the diverse agencies that share jurisdiction over the varied landscapes coordinate their efforts.