|Peak Summited||Mount San Jacinto|
I had checked out the trailhead the day before, and noticed that just past the dirt area that serves as a “parking lot”, the road kind of bows out and signs indicate that parking is ok for 3 cars on the shoulder each side. I chose to park there since my car is not so offroad friendly. And then if you have GPS, you can walk further up the road into the campsite and then up the hill past the water tank and hook up with the trail. If starting in the dark I would prefer this route (I started just before sunrise).
The first 2.5 miles are tough. But then you have covered more than half the vertical gain. The middle section is more benign climbing-wise. It gets confusing where the trail is at points around 9200′ – I strayed from the trail in both directions around here, but found my way back. Then you get to the steep final 800′. I got a headache in this area but nothing too severe, and just kept moving slow and steady. Maybe 1.2mph average speed.
Just before the six-pack route merges with the other Idyllwild and Tram routes, I saw a group headed for the top. I was lucky to be able to watch them go up the boulder scramble because there is no defined route. Long story short, keep vectoring to the right and then just before the edge, turn left and head up.
You don't see the peak sign until it is basically right in front of your face. It's like “doh, I made it!” The group I followed had set up just below the peak and then headed down, leaving me all alone which was pretty nice. It was ~10:20am on a weekday so no one from the tram could have gotten there yet.
The hike down was very tough in the last 2.5 miles due to the steepness. The time down was not much faster than the time up.