Tamarack Valley via Palm Springs Aerial Tramway

Friday morning we woke up and decided that everything else could wait. In less than two hours we had packed the car and headed out on a trip back to the San Jacinto Wilderness – this time from the east, via the Palm Springs Aerial Tramway.

tamarack 52

One of the reasons we were so casual about this trip was the presence of piped water at Round Valley, a nearby campsite to where we planned to stay. Unfortunately, four years into a drought as we are, the spring that produces the water had run dry. No water on the mountain! After a few calculations we bought a couple of bottles of back-up water from the cafeteria and up we went.

tamarack 50

tamarack 51

The ‘Tramway’ is a large gondola-type cable-lift with a rotating floor. It starts at an elevation of 2,643 feet just near Palm Springs and travels 6,000 feet up an insanely steep cliffside to the Mountain Station, elevation 8,516 feet. Beats walking! But Jess was absolutely petrified the whole time, keeping her eyes shut so she wouldn’t lose her lunch.

tamarack 48

Snack at the top of the gondola ride of death.

We picked up wilderness permits at the Long Valley Ranger’s Station and off we went! Since the total distance we needed to cover was only around 2.5 miles, we were able to take many breaks (we didn’t need to rush through like we did at the Mexican border).

tamarack 47 tamarack 46

Here, want some lip balm? We dropped it into the dirt!

Here, want some lip balm? We dropped it into the dirt!

Making it to Tamarack Valley, elevation 9,120 feet, we found the Quartz campsite and set up camp. Since the distance was so short, we packed a couple of creature comforts: a bag of wine, and the coffee plunger! After a quick minute of zazen we rehydrated up some veggie curry (leaving it simmering for ages made it delicious) and enjoyed the view and each other’s company before retiring at 3-year-old bedtime. Everyone seemed to sleep fairly well, we were all warm enough and there was pretty much no wind at all.

 

tamarack 43

Wearing mommy’s thermal tops!

tamarack 41 tamarack 39

Gabriel making some dirt soup

Gabriel making some dirt soup

Wine and cheese

Wine and cheese

tamarack 31

Delicious!

tamarack 34

That is not how you wear a hat, silly

Sunset

Sunset

tamarack 29

In the morning we went out for another walk and saw deer grazing in the meadow nearby. They didn’t mind our presence and went about their business peacefully.

tamarack 27

Sunrise

Sunrise

tamarack 25

Coffee!

Coffee!

tamarack 19

The walk back was beautiful, and Gabriel even hiked a bit himself. We had a relaxed lunch while we waited for the next gondola ride down the hill, and away we went. The ride down ended up being much scarier than the way up, for Jess anyway!

tamarack 18

Quartz

tamarack 15 tamarack 13

tamarack 10

Just don’t point it at the sun.

tamarack 9

Gondola machinery

tamarack 8

Epic gondola of terror

tamarack 7

The guy on the left thought I was really funny.

tamarack 4

 

 

 

  • Kim

    Great pictures & videos—thanks! The rotating gondola would have made me so sick…not great on ups & downs either (Gee, wonder who Jess takes after?—sorry Jess 🙁 All-in-all, looks like it was a wonderful time.

  • Rob

    Poor Jess!
    Glad you survived the Gondola of death!
    What a nice time-out for you all… great to have a low-key itinerary and zazen together!
    … and what about that view!

  • pam

    wish i was there! brought back memories of the Great Prom Trek!! altho 2.5 miles sounds doable!,
    whats zazen?

    • simon

      Yes it was just a little stroll! 🙂 Zazen is meditation.