A little snow can make for a big day in Southern California.
PUBLISHER’S NOTE: Photo provided by Marvin D. Mitchell
EDITOR’S NOTE: Marvin Mitchell is director of case management and social services at San Gorgonio Memorial Hospital in Banning, Calif., east of Los Angeles. He wrote about the recent rainstorm in California which brought snow to the mountains in his high desert community.
It rained here late morning. By 5 p.m. the clouds had lifted so the mountains were visible. What you see is actually three mountain ranges, the middle one isn’t visible from this angle.
On the left the mountains are about five miles north of the hospital, about 3 from the edge of town. On the right is Mount San Gorgonio for which the Pass is named. The summit is about 30 miles away, although it does not look that far because the rise if not as steep as the North Slope.
At the summit it is 11,600 feet. The snow cap can last anywhere from late April until to the middle of June. On the North Slope the snow cap can easily last until the temperatures in Palm Springs are in the 90’s for a couple weeks, about 35 miles to the east. It never gets above 50 degrees at the summit. I climbed twice as a teen. Would have been three times, but the snow was 10 to 20 feet deep at 8,000 feet so we turned back. That was in mid-May (some years back). At the summit there are no trees or chaparral being a 1,000 feet above timber line. It’s worth a little cold weather to get to enjoy the view.
From my back yard I have a clear view of the upper 2/3 of Mount San Jacinto to the East; another mountain I climbed several times as a boy. It’s 10,500 at the summit. The clouds still shrouded it or I would have sent a pic of it as well. It’s not a bad climb from Idyllwild, but from the Palm Springs side it’s incredibly steep, sheer at some points; majestic, rising from just above sea level to the summit in I’m guessing two miles total. If you have never taken the tramway starting at the north end of Palm Springs, you really should. The tram doesn’t go to the summit but does go to about 7,500 feet. The view of the Coachella Valley is breathtaking. San Gorgonio is visible quite well from most parts of the Coachella Valley. From the top of the tramway parts of Banning and the Morongo lands are visible. There is still snow on San Jacinto’s North Slope, partially visible from the north end of Palm Springs. It was 90 degrees down there this weekend.
We may not have the ocean, but this isn’t bad. Only in California do you have such contrasts in climate and topography so close together. It helps hold body and soul together no matter how the day went.
Wherever you live, find such wonders; they are everywhere. The outline of bare trees in winter, dogwoods in Missouri or saguaro flowers in the Sonoran Desert in early spring.
Even the humid mid-summer serves to remind us that we are truly alive.