As of November, 2012, only one 10,000'+ peak remained unclimbed: Newton Drury Peak (10,160+ feet/3097+ meters) which is in the San Jacinto Mountains of Southern California.
The best route to Newton Drury Peak utilizes a combination of the Marion Mountain Trail, the Pacific Crest Trail (PCT), the Deer Springs Trail, and some cross country travel. The trailhead for Newton Drury Peak is some two hours drive from my home. To climb the peak, I'd have to ascend some 4000 vertical feet (1219 m) over about 4.5 miles/7.25 km. The first 2.5 miles/4 km climbs an average of about 950' per mile (305m/km), which is quite steep. The upper portion of the route is cross country (i.e. there is no trail). Given the steepness and the cross country nature of the trip, I knew that this would be no quick ascent. This time of year, there are only 11 hours of daylight. Wanting to take full advantage all available daylight, I got up at 0310, got on the road at 0400, and arrived at the trailhead before dawn at about 0555. I wasted no time in getting on the trail.
The day was cold and gray with intermittent rain and hail.
|Fuller Ridge early in the morning as seen from the Marion Mountain Trail|
|Sign marking the wilderness boundary|
As I ascended the Marion Mountain Trail, I began to encounter a few patches of old snow left over from a small storm that hit a week prior. The fact that there was any snow left at all from such a small storm tells me that the nights have been pretty cold up on the mountain.
|An old patch of snow near the trail|
|Stone work on the Marion Mountain Trail|
Ascending further, we come to the junction with the Pacific Crest Trail which runs all the way from Mexico to Canada.
|The junction of the Pacific Crest and Marion Mountain Trails|
The only indication that this was the PCT was a fallen over wooden post near the junction where there once had been a PCT symbol.
|A wooden post that once had a PCT symbol on it.|
Shortly after joining the PCT, we encounter the junction with the Seven Pines Trail.
|The signed junction of the PCT and the Seven Pines Trail|
|Marker post on the PCT near the junction with the Seven Pines Trail|
|Water flowing at Deer Springs|
|Ice in the creek bed at Deer Springs|
|Junction with the Fuller Ridge Trail|
|The very hard to read PCT symbol on a trail marker post.|
Once past the junction with the Fuller Ridge Trail, we come to another branch of the north fork of the San Jacinto River. This branch was also flowing on Friday, November 16, the day I passed by. This is actually a fairly reliable source of water. I've seen this branch have water when the branch by Deer Springs has been Dry.
|Another branch of the N Fork of the San Jacinto River|
|Ice at a branch of the N Fork of the San Jacinto River|
However, the creek that flows down out of Little Round Valley was completely dry at the trail crossing...
|Dry creek bed below Little Round Valley|
|Dry creek bed in Little Round Valley|
|A new sign at Little Round Valley|
|New outhouse in Little Round Valley|
Fires have long been banned in Mount San Jacinto State Park, but the fact is that people are still having them.
|A campfire site in Little Round Valley|
|Another campfire site in Little Round Valley|
Thus far, from the trailhead to Little Round Valley, the route has been fairly routine, on-trail travel. From the camp sites in Little Round Valley, the route gets a little more interesting. I needed to leave the trail, make my way to the south eastern head of Little Round Valley, proceed along an azimuth of about 120° true, and then angle southward, ascending to a saddle east of the peak at just over 10,000'/3048 m elevation. The visibility on the day I went was fairly limited. I would have to trust my map and compass.
|A gray day on the flanks of Drury Peak|
Apparently, my route finding was fairly good that day, for I soon reached the summit block of Newton Drury Peak.
|The summit block of Newton Drury Peak|
Passing through the rocks, I marveled at the tenacity of the plant life that holds on in the extreme conditions found here on the mountain top. What a remarkable little tree!
|A very tough little Lodgepole pine (Pinus contorta), high on Newton Drury Peak|
|Final slabs en route to the summit of Newton Drury Peak|
|A krummholz tree atop Newton Drury Peak|
|Lunch spot, summit of Newton Drury Peak|
|Weighting down things against the wind atop Newton Drury Peak|
|Frost on my mittens.|
|Gnarled trees atop Newton Drury Peak|
I did, however, get some nice sunset shots from the Marion Mountain Trail.
|The Sun setting above Diamond Valley Lake|
|Sunset and Diamond Valley Lake|
|The moon as seen from the Marion Mountain Trail|
*The correct name for the highest point in the San Jacinto Mountains San Jacinto Peak, but some genius named the state park Mount San Jacinto, and there's been nothing but confusion ever since. Indeed, the sign atop the peak reads "Mount San Jacinto Peak" a bastardization combining both the mistake and the proper name. Bureaucracy at it's finest.