Landells Peak, Divide Peak, Marion Mountain, Jean Peak, San Jacinto Peak, Miller Peak via Cactus to Clouds to Cactus

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Note: For specific route information on the Cactus to Clouds (C2C) route, see this route description.

November 3, 2012
An awesome day in the mountains! I was planned to hike C2C with a group this day, and took the opportunity to explore a few peaks I haven't been to yet. We started at 3:40 am along with what seemed like hundreds of people from the San Jacinto Hiking Club. The temp at the start was high 50s, making for perfect hiking weather.

PeakElevationTopographic ProminenceSummit Coordinates (lat/lon)
Landells Peak (aka. Luella Todd Peak)9,356 ft276 ft33.800476, -116.650815
Divide Peak9,187 ft75 ft33.801445, -116.645821
Marion Mountain10,362 ft242 ft33.795764, -116.687014
Jean Peak10,670 ft230 ft33.80615, -116.679197 
San Jacinto Peak10,834 ft8,319 ft33.814785, -116.679477
Miller Peak10,400 ft40 ft33.815283, -116.673041

lights from hikers heading up Skyline at 1,500 ft, mostly members of SJHC

Not wanting to get caught up in the ginormous group below, I quickened my pace hoping to run into some smaller groups further up the trail. At around 2,000 ft I ran into Mike who was hiking solo. We ended up hiking together for the rest of the Skyline portion.

view from 3,500 ft

I was surprised that the temperature remained fairly constant for much of our hike up. Even at sunrise at flat rock, it still felt like high 50s.

As we were heading up the last portion of Skyline at around 8,000 ft, the temperature suddenly plummeted from high 50s into low 30s.

A few moments later at 8am, we found ourselves at Grubbs Notch. Mike had completed his first ever Skyline. We headed over to Long Valley Ranger Station to fill out permits and munch on some quick snacks. I filled 2 liters of water in the bathrooms. It tasted horrible, but was still water. After 20 minutes at the ranger station, we resumed hiking up. Half a mile after the ranger station, I headed off trail towards my first 2 peaks: Luella Todd Peak and Divide Peak. Mike continued on trail towards San Jacinto Peak and his first C2C.

Divide Peak- the summit block looks like a bird spreading its wings

The initial off trail was a very short section of steep and rocky terrain. It then it flattened out in a gradual uphill slope. After 15 minutes on this slope, I stood at the base of Luella Todd's class 2 summit rockpile. I dropped my pack and headed up, glad to see some sunlight up ahead. There was a big register on Luella Todd's summit, lodged in a crack between two rocks.

views from Luella Todd Peak summit

Several rockpiles rose up to the east in the direction of Divide Peak, but I didn't know which one was the actual highpoint. I descended the Luella Todd rockpile and climbed the next one over. Nope. I continued east, climbing two more rockpiles. At the top of each of them, another rockpile rose up higher towards the east. Finally, I spotted one that HAD to be the highpoint. There was nothing higher behind it. It contained a short and fun class 3 section of rock in a "stairway" formation. Upon reaching the top, I knew that it was the summit. I scouted around for a summit register, but found none. The views from Divide Peak were pretty good, somewhat different than Luella Todd's views despite their proximity.

view from rockpile 2

heading east

highpoint of Divide Peak

views from Divide Peak summit

I descended the rockpile and retraced my steps, back to where I had dropped my pack below Luella Todd Peak. I descended back down to the San Jacinto Peak Trail and headed towards Wellmans Divide. The trail was very busy that day. Many people had taken advantage of good weather. I reached Wellmans at around 11am. There were about 20 people congregated there chatting away. I sat down and had some lunch, which consisted of 3 tangerines, veggie sticks, a Clif bar, and some nuts. After lunch, I left the trail and started ascending towards Marion Mountain. Almost immediately after leaving the trail, low, thorny bushes covered the ground and it was getting very hard to walk without getting scratched. The higher I climbed, the slower my pace became as the amount and density of those bushes increased. My initial route was to contour along the east side of the Marion-Jean ridge and slowly ascend to Marion. But when I looked across at this contour, it was covered with more of those thorny bushes, which would be torturous to walk through. I decided to head straight up to Jean Peak and walk to Marion along the ridge, which would be free of bushes. The brush really increased right below Jean Peak, prompting me to aim for rocks whenever they would appear. After 30 minutes of bushwhacking, I was standing just below Jean Peak. I dropped my pack and continued south towards Marion, relived to see that the route was easygoing and free of bushes. The traverse was straight forward, skirting the west side of a small bump on the ridge (which I later found out was locally known as "Shirley Peak").

view of Tahquitz Peak while ascending to Jean

The summit block of Marion was probably my favorite that day. Just as I was about to get to it, a hiker who was climbing the same peak walked out of the trees. He pointed out a fun class 3 crack on the north side of the summit block that had to be climbed in order to get up on it. The views were pretty good in all directions from Marion Mountain. I could easily see the rest of the traverse up to San Jacinto Peak.

Marion's summit block, viewed from the northeast

view of Jean and San Jacinto peaks from Marion 

view towards Mt. San Gorgonio

Tahquitz Peak (behind rockpile in foreground)

I left Marion at 12pm and headed back towards Jean. The other hiker was also planning on doing the same traverse over to Jean Peak. He stayed a little longer on Marion while I began heading down. I had not slept the previous night and began feeling my eyes getting heavy. Halfway though the traverse, I began to feel a little more awake and picked up the pace. Soon I was back at Jean Peak and gathered up my pack. The traverse between Marion and Jean was mostly class 1 and easy to follow.

view of Marion from Jean's summit

San Jacinto Peak from Jean

The traverse over to San Jacinto Peak was pretty nice. There were great views and some easy class 1-2 rocky terrain. I arrived at the summit of San J to find most of the C2C group there. They had been there for about 40 minutes waiting for some remaining 5 people to finish. I sat down and ate some veggie sticks. We chatted about our climbs.

crowded summit

20 minutes later, everyone in the group had gotten to the summit. We cheered and took some pictures before heading down. Perry led the group down one of his shortcuts. I saw Miller Peak on the way down and decided to tag it really quick.

Miller Peak summit block, note the plaque on top

view east from Miller

south- that yellow thingy down there is round valley

north towards Gorgonio

San Jacinto Peak

I descended Miller and caught up with the rest of the group just as they were turning off to Sid Davis.

I chatted with Perry and Mihai as we descended the Sid Davis Route. There was the usual routefinding to locate Tamarack valley, which went without a hitch. We got back to the Long Valley ranger station at around 3:20 pm. Greg had hiked down earlier and was waiting for us there. Everyone else was planning on taking the tram down, but he wanted to hike back down to the museum. I was still feeling pretty good so I decided to join him. We headed up towards the tram station to see if Sung wanted to join is. It turned out she did, as she had never done that before. I emptied out my bottles of disgusting bathroom water and filled up at the drinking fountains. It looked like Sung had the same opinion about that water as she was doing the same. Greg told us that he would meet us at the bottom of the tram ramp when we were finished, then ran back to Long Valley Ranger Station to retrieve his hiking poles he had accidentally left there. 15 minutes later, all three us were on the trail heading towards Grubs notch.

Our descent of skyline was nice. A cool breeze swept up through the canyons. We ran into 4 other hikers at Coffmans Crag. They were the last people we saw on the trail that day. The views were really nice because of the lighting at that time of day.

We took a short break at flat rock. Greg pulled out a sandwich, I had a muffin, and Sung nibbled on some cheese. Before I finished the muffin, we were packing up and on the trail again.

Our flashlights were out at 4,000 ft as we began slipping and sliding. We could hear a concert happening in Palm Springs all the way down the mountain. As was the last few times I had done this, the last part of skyline below 4,000 ft seemed to take forever. The city lights looked close but never got closer. As we reached rescue box #1, I knew we still had about an hour at the pace we were going. We couldn't go too fast as the terrain started getting rockier. At one point, Greg surprised a bird which suddenly jumped up two feet in front of him, making all three of us jump. At last, we could see the parking lot of the museum and after 10 minutes were back at the trailhead. An end to an amazing day.

Final Stats
29.6 miles
13,060 ft gain/loss

Weather Forecasts
1,500 ft along Skyline Trail (picnic tables)
4,900 ft along Skyline Trail
6,000 ft along Skyline Trail (Flat Rock)
7,800 ft along Skyline Trail (Coffman's Crag)
Long Valley to Round Valley
Jean Peak, Marion Mountain, Miller Peak, San Jacinto Peak

Peakbagger Pages
Landells Peak (aka. Luella Todd Peak)
Divide Peak
Marion Mountain
Jean Peak
San Jacinto Peak
Miller Peak

Summitpost Pages
Marion Mountain
Jean Peak
San Jacinto Peak
Miller Peak

Mt. San Jacinto message board
Live webcam from Long Valley Ranger Station
Palm Springs Aerial Tramway website

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