Monday, June 29, 2015

Thomas Mountain Backpack

Since the planned trip to Yosemite didn't work out, I have been trying to find a shorter trip.  I was thinking of heading up to the southern Sierra's but suddenly Jyoti said that she would like to go with me.  I wanted to something shorter and closer to home since she is not as experienced a hiker.  We eventually chose Thomas Mountain near Idyllwild. On Friday we packed and planned the trip as a one nighter.  The weather looked to be warm but tolerable.
We drove up midday Saturday.  The drive was very pleasant through the foothills of Cahuilla, Aguanga and Anza.  We made a stop for lunch at the famous Paradise Valley Cafe.  The Gus Burger is highly recommended.  We then drove to the trailhead for the Ramona Trail just a few miles more north.  We donned our packs and headed up the mountain.  The trail was pretty steep, more so than I thought.  It was also quite hot (it turned out be in the 90's that day).  So it was slow going the first couple miles.  Then the clouds came out and the elevation cooled us a couple of degrees.  The pines were nicer hiking than the chaparral but bugs started to come as well.  Getting close to the top, we hit a trail junction that was not mentioned in the guidebook or on the map.  A bit of scouting and we headed in the right direction and quickly came across Tool Box Spring.  It surprisingly had good flow when the valve was opened.  Since we did not know the spring's status beforehand, I had lots of water and we didn't need to filter any.  Another 1/4 mile or so and we got to Tool Box Spring campground.  The camp had two other groups that had driven up.  We setup the tent and did a bit of strolling around the area.  The views to the south were great from the camp.  We chose not to try to hit the summit and made an early night of it to avoid the bugs.
The wind was roaring the tree tops but we only got slight breezes at ground level.  By morning, the breeze had completely stopped which allowed the bugs to come out full force.  We quickly packed and headed back down.  The hike down was very quick as was the drive home.
Overall, Thomas Mountain is a nice hike.  But the heat, bugs and steepness probably mean I won't be back in the near future.

Ramona Trailhead

Garner Valley

Tool Box Campground

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