Snow Creek hike- is it okay to park at the power station?

General Palm Springs area.

Snow Creek hike- is it okay to park at the power station?

Postby borregodude » Tue Mar 30, 2021 8:12 am

Hi there,

I've been interested in exploring the Snow Creek drainage and was curious to know if the parking area at 33.898936, -116.679528 is still okay to park at. It looks like it's up against a small power station surrounded by barbed wire just off of Snow Creek Canyon Rd. I am aware of the DWA property boundaries and would be circumventing along the east side as most people I've researched have also done.

I have no expectation to reach the top during this trip since I don't know if it's climbable without snow and I'm not a rock climber, although I do have a lot of off-trail hiking experience. Whether or not I do it before summer this year or at another time next year is up in the air; I'd just like to do a little investigation first to get a feel for it.

Thanks!
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Re: Snow Creek hike- is it okay to park at the power station

Postby futbol » Wed Mar 31, 2021 9:45 am

Can't answer your question about parking, but will mention that I was issued a permit to section hike the PCT on San Jacinto and the section south of it last week.

Attached to the SJ permit was a yellow note that the PCT trail near Snow Creek was closed due to damage from (last year's) fire. A fellow hiker relayed a rumor that this area may be reopened in April.

I am not sure if the area you intend to hike/climb is affected by this closure, but it is something to be aware of.
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Re: Snow Creek hike- is it okay to park at the power station

Postby guest » Thu Apr 01, 2021 10:20 pm

Hi Borregodude,
If your referring to the small structure on the south side of Snow Creek Rd. a few hundreds yards before the village, yes, it's ok to park there. It's DWA pumping station, with camera's facing most directions. Parking away from any entrances, and you'll be fine. If that section of the PCT is still closed, I can't imagine anyone hassling you over what seems pretty harmless, but it you'll be going on the east / south side anyway. Probably the safest place to park.
I have friends who have hiked Snow Creek / north face of San Jac in summer, and it's very challenging, with class 4+ areas where a rope could be very helpful. Tons of boulder hoping / scrambling. But, maybe the thick brushy area, (approx. 3.5-5k ft.), to get to the 'tunnel", as it's called, to avoid some of the worst brush, may all be burned, thanks to DWA's pick up truck that caught fire, (they don't want to admit it, and their lawyers may think that they can weasel out of responsibility for almost burning the entire mountain up, including Snow Creek village, their own structures & purification facilities, historic Hicks Cabin, countless wildlife, plant & historic Native sites etc. The same agency who thought using rate-payers money to mount a sting operation in the middle of the night to catch a handful of legit climbers going across a bit of their precious property, lined with cameras, as they think we're a bigger threat than the illegal pot growers using pesticides & tapping into the streams.
I was there, I heard the trucks tires explode, I saw it bursting into flames, and watched it spread about 5-10mph up the side of the mountains, across Snow Creek alluvial fan, onto the south ridge & up that.
Anyways, good thing your doing plenty of research, it's a super tough climb.

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Re: Snow Creek hike- is it okay to park at the power station

Postby bretpct » Fri Apr 16, 2021 10:39 pm

Wow, that's super interesting.

DWA seems like one of the more spiteful government agencies I'm aware of. Rumor has it when they were asked to install a water spigot in Snow Creek for PCT hikers they purposefully installed a water fountain that is near impossible to use due to the high winds in the area.
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Re: Snow Creek hike- is it okay to park at the power station

Postby Ed » Sat Apr 17, 2021 5:22 am

In the 1970's you could cross the DWA parcel. With permission. And you did get permission. So their Hound of the Baskervilles was chained when you passed through. Even chained it was fearsome.
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Re: Snow Creek hike- is it okay to park at the power station

Postby Ellen » Sat Apr 17, 2021 12:42 pm

Howdy Scott2 :)

:o :o :o

guest wrote:...I have friends who have hiked Snow Creek / north face of San Jac in summer, and it's very challenging, with class 4+ areas where a rope could be very helpful. Tons of boulder hoping / scrambling. But, maybe the thick brushy area, (approx. 3.5-5k ft.), to get to the 'tunnel", as it's called, to avoid some of the worst brush, may all be burned, thanks to DWA's pick up truck that caught fire, (they don't want to admit it, and their lawyers may think that they can weasel out of responsibility for almost burning the entire mountain up, including Snow Creek village, their own structures & purification facilities, historic Hicks Cabin, countless wildlife, plant & historic Native sites etc. The same agency who thought using rate-payers money to mount a sting operation in the middle of the night to catch a handful of legit climbers going across a bit of their precious property, lined with cameras, as they think we're a bigger threat than the illegal pot growers using pesticides & tapping into the streams.
I was there, I heard the trucks tires explode, I saw it bursting into flames, and watched it spread about 5-10mph up the side of the mountains, across Snow Creek alluvial fan, onto the south ridge & up that...


I am so sorry -- I had no idea that the Snow Creek fire was so devastating :cry: I also appreciate your insight into the legal ramifications of the DWA pickup truck's role in the fire :shock: I'll never forget the DWA sting operation -- it involved several of our mutual friends :x

From the heart,
Ellen
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Re: Snow Creek hike- is it okay to park at the power station

Postby Ellen » Sat Apr 17, 2021 12:55 pm

Howdy Ed :)

Ed wrote:In the 1970's you could cross the DWA parcel. With permission. And you did get permission. So their Hound of the Baskervilles was chained when you passed through. Even chained it was fearsome.


Did you climb Snow Creek?

On a different topic -- Marilyn and I hiked up Skyline last Thursday. Even her heavy Asolo's (only boots she could wear due to a sore toenail) did not slow her down :o I may need to start putting rocks in her daypack :lol:

Miles of smiles,
Ellen
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Re: Snow Creek hike- is it okay to park at the power station

Postby Ed » Sat Apr 17, 2021 1:49 pm

Ellen,

I am all in favor of the rocks in Marilyn's pack.

I thought I had climbed Snow Creek in April, 1977, but I found a write-up in the Sierra Echo, it was May, 1976. So much for memory.

https://www.sierraclub.org/sites/www.sierraclub.org/files/sce/sierra-peaks-section/newsltr1970s/1976v20_3.pdf

I assume the cover photo is Sid Davis, there is a lengthy article on him inside.

The write-up on Snow Creek is by Doug Mantle, Doug falsely believed he had lyrical talents. I was suffering from spring attacks of exercise asthma at the time which could be severe. Fortunately, it did not bother me on Snow Creek. The reference to my skiing is entirely fair. The reference to crossing streams is because I dislocated my shoulder crossing a stream on a slippery log in the Wallace Creek area northwest of Mt. Whitney. Took three days to walk out, very little of it on trail, going over Russell-Carillon col and coming down the north fork of Lone Pine Creek to Whitney Portal. Then it was misdiagnosed by the first doctor I saw because, it turns out, there are two types of shoulder dislocation, and one is rare and not visible on the surface. I was in continuous and excruciating pain for eleven days until it was properly diagnosed and set.

Doug mentions the Dog, but not the avalanche danger. There had been recent storms. When we started up the snow chute, it had a scoured surface and avalanche debris on the side, so we assumed it had avalanched and was safe. Not very bright, the avalanche had not started at the top. Several hundred feet below the ridge we found ourselves sinking in snow up to our thighs, with balls and rivulets of snow sliding down, sure signs of avalanche danger. I remember thinking, this will not do to be killed by an avalanche within sight of Palm Springs. Nothing to do but finish the climb. And we had to come down the same way, because we were doing it as a two-day backpack. Except for the dog and the avalanche danger, it was an uneventful and fun trip.

Another time we were descending Mt. Tom in the Sierras. Doug suggested taking a shortcut down a chute, instead of the ridge we had taken up. I agreed to go with him, the rest of the group wisely declined. The chute avalanched above us. When it passed us, it seemed harmless, a few inches of snow making a musical sound as it slid down. Lower down we turned a corner, and saw the avalanche debris. Acres of what looked like a talus field, but the rocks were made of snow. Very sobering.

It was after these two experiences, and an earlier experience with avalanche danger on Denali, that I once heard the whumpf! whumpf! sound of snow shifting in upper Tamarack Valley, another signal of avalanche danger. I had no hesitation in turning around.
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Re: Snow Creek hike- is it okay to park at the power station

Postby guest » Sun Apr 18, 2021 10:39 am

Hi friends,
Interesting posts here. Ed, your story of the N Face / Snow Creek is crazy, especially descending, as are your Sierra adventures. When I climbed it, we got w/ in a 200-300 vertical feet from the summit, and were up to our waists, and were going to have to make a small traverse on hard-packed ice, that may give way, so the lead guy, (Carl Garchinski, who has climbed it over 20 times way back), decided we needed to down climb and head over to another area. That was very scary, as we were knocking much snow down on our buds below us, were freezing, tired, but made it.

Yes, back then, we could get permission to cross DWA's land, or just risk Woody the caretakers dogs hearing or smelling us, (before camera's, trip-beams etc.). My friend who lives in Snow Creek & works for BLM, along w others were finally able to get DWA to install that fountain as you hit the dirt single-track, off he paved road. As many know, it's a long 15-20 mile slough off that mt. (heading north), from Fuller Ridge, and many run out of water on hotter days. Many actually camp overnight there now, because of the water, and fairly flat spots.

Would like to know what the fire investigators concluded re. the dwa truck & cause of fire. I heard several large explosions, (turned out to be the heavy-duty tires exploding, including the spare), ran out to see the truck engulfed, and the dry brush igniting. The afternoon winds had just begun, and the fire spread approx. 5-10 mph, luckily, due south, away from village, (until later & into the evening, when winds shifted). Fire crews & all personnel did an outstanding job, and if not for the helo's, lots more would have burned. They wanted us to evacuate, but I had 2 big fire engines parked in my driveway, so I stayed! The ponds on the Agua Caleinte's land, behind the rest area off the 10, really helped, as it allowed for 5 min. turns for water. Luckily, they only used phos-chek on the slopes to the south by Blaisdell Canyon area.

Ellen, I'm so impressed your hitting Skyline as always, along w your studly friends! I know Doug McK is hitting it a lot, after a hip replacement, including Rabbit peak! Wonder if Diana is still zooming up? Your TR are helping others make hopefully, good decisions re. attempting it. Looks like the wx window will be extended for now, as night temps are still hitting the 60's.

Btw, there's been a good amount of thru-hikers coming through, according to my friend in Snow Creek. May be a good year to not hit tons of snow & ice further north. Not sure what the snow & ice conditions are way up on the mt. and north face. Cheers, scott
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Re: Snow Creek hike- is it okay to park at the power station

Postby Ed » Sun Apr 18, 2021 4:53 pm

Scott,

I think the snow chute diverges into two chutes, so the one you take, as well as the current snow conditions, can cause variations in the experience. I believe we took the one to the right, and hit the ridge well to the right of the summit. One thing I puzzle over is 'the chock', which everybody doing the route today mentions. We certainly encountered nothing like it. Similarly, people doing Telescope Peak from Shorty's Well today mention a grueling scree slope, which we never encountered.

The dog we saw was truly fearsome. He was on a long steel chain, perhaps 50 to a 100 feet long. When he saw us, he charged and hit the end of the chain at full speed, rearing up on his hind legs, front legs flailing, snarling, barking and flashing teeth and tongue. We were carrying overnight packs. I had an image of myself lying on my back like a turtle, with Mr. Dog tearing my throat out.
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