DISTANCE
16.6 miles
ELEVATION GAIN
5,219 feet
ROUTE TYPE
Loop

backpacking

birding

camping

hiking

nature trips

trail running

walking

forest

views

wild flowers

wildlife

snow

no dogs

hiking
19 days ago

I hiked this as an overnight backpacking trip on April 28th-29th in 2018. It was BY FAR the hardest hike I have ever done. I had a permit for camping at little round valley, and parked at Deer Springs trailhead with no issues.

I left Deer Springs trailhead at 8:40am, later than I intended to start and I got one of the last two parking spots. The start of the trail was a bit hard to follow, I was able to navigate only because I read this blog post about it: https://hikingguy.com/hiking-trails/best-la-hikes/hike-mount-san-jacinto-from-idyllwild/
On Deer springs trail I hardly saw any other hikers, two individual women and a dad with his son hiking suicide rock. At 11:00 am I met the junction with the PCT and I continued hiking. I saw a few PCT through hiking groups, but it was not crowded (you could go 30-45 minutes before seeing another group of people).

I brought my sawyer squeeze to filter water and had 2L carrying capacity. Check the PCT water report before going: https://pctwater.com/
I found there to be plenty of water until 1.5miles or so before Little Round Valley. It was dry above that, though you could find patches of snow and melt them for water (which I did).
While filtering water I ran into a group of three ladies. They were trying to make it to Round Valley and it was already 2pm, and they were struggling, so I invited them to stay with me at Little Round Valley. At 3pm we made it to little round valley and set up camp at the Thunder View site. (map here: https://www.msjnha.org/images/campsites.jpg). One of the ladies in the group stayed at the campsite while three of us summit ed. It took two and a half hours, and was SO HARD to summit, even though we left our packs at camp. We lost the trail for a solid 15-20 minutes on the way up. It was VERY windy on the summit and the sign on top was stolen. We talked to other hikers up top which was the best part of the trip.

The Thunder View campsite was quite remote and EXTREMELY windy. You are sitting on the edge of the mountain, and the wind just rushes up the side and all around the campsite. I had a complete mental breakdown trying to sleep alone in the winds and had to jump in a tent with one of the other hikers I met. I was worried my tent would blow away without me in it and at 2am I put a bunch of rocks on my tent. I slept maybe for an hour total as the wind was howling constantly with gusts that would shake the tent silly. Looking back I would have broken the rules and not camped near the designated site post, but closer to the trail where it was not directly on the side of the mountain. It was clear that other hikers were doing that based on old fire pits found and clear campsites formed, and I never saw a ranger or anyone checking any sort of permit.

In the morning things were clear again. We decided not to do this trail as a loop (which required going back up towards the summit), and instead just went down the way we came. We left Little Round Valley at 9am and returned to the Deer Springs trail head at 3pm. We were going slow and were a bit disappointed, as the good views are on the other side of the mountain.

I am very lucky to have found a group of ladies that helped me out, and that I could help out. I WOULD NOT HAVE BEEN ABLE TO DO THIS ALONE/WITHOUT THEM. The mountain is unforgiving and I will never attempt hiking something like it alone again. My backpacking stove also would not light at the altitude of the campground and I relied on a lighter another hiker had to boil water. I took two sick days from work once I got home in order to recover. I was so nervous hiking that I physically could not eat nearly the entire time I was on the mountain, and was so drained I could hardly function for those two sick days. Shockingly I would try this again, on the condition that I stay at a different campsite, and I would go with a group. I went to see the views and never made it to that side of the mountain.