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San Jacinto Peak

11 July 1996

By: Pax Starksen

This unannounced hike was the 632rd ascent of San Jacinto Peak by my uncle, Sid "San Jac" Davis, who was celebrating his 80th birthday. His first ascent was on July 11, 1964.

Participating in this celebration were two close hiking friends, Andy Smatko and Nico Colvanes; Sid's grandson Steven; and two nephews, Sam Harris and myself.

We departed the trailhead at the ranger station at 6:45 am, and ambled our way towards Round Valley, arriving at 7:45. The time was filled with much conversation about previous ascents, other peaks, other hikers. At Round Valley we stopped to regroup, and have a group photo taken by a passing hiker.

Then we pressed on. I was relieved to hear that we would not be taking the (in)famous Sid Davis shortcut! Along the way, we admired this very verdant forest of lodgepole pines, filled with wildlife. The pace was comfortable, the sky blue, but with clouds; the temperature was just about right.

We stopped at Wellman Saddle for a short break, arriving at 8:45, and quickly moved on. After another stop, Sid, Andy, Sam, and Steve picked up the pace, leaving Nico and myself to sweep far behind.

The lead group arrived at the peak around 10:40. (So they said!) While Nico and I dragged in about 11:10. A leisurely lunch ensued, while we watched a sailplane soar by, and strange cloud pattems form and dissipate, slowly becoming more ominous.

We departed the peak just before noon, and Sid was complaining about sharp stomach pains. When we arrived at Wellman Saddle, Steve administered a massage technique to his Grandpa, and the pains miraculously vanished!

Again, Sid, Andy, Sam, and Steve pulled ahead, leaving Nico and yours truly to keep each other company. The conversation was fun, the scenery delightful, and we arrived back at the Tram about 3:15.

After showering at a motel, we enjoyed at sumptuous dinner at Sorrentino's in Palm Springs, hosted by Uncle Sid. Later, Sid told me that Grandson Steve, who is an accomplished rock climber, made his first ascent of San Jac when he was just 2 years, 11 months, and 28 days old (with a 1-1/2 hour nap at Round Valley).

This was my first ascent of San Jac, my 107th peak, and it's been 7 years since my last non-repeat peak ... I've gotta get serious about my second hundred peaks!

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