Please, come with me as I relive the experience.
Mount San Jacinto is at an elevation of 10,834 feet above sea level, and is the second highest mountain range in Southern California. There are magnificent granite peaks, sub-alpine forests, mountain meadows and several hiking trails that allow visitors to explore the high-country wilderness area.
In order to access the mountain from Palm Springs, we hopped aboard the Palm Spring Aerial Tramway which runs from Valley Station at an elevation of 2,643 feet, to Mountain Station which is at an elevation of 8,516 feet.
Once we were off the tram, we realized that we had not planned very well and had consumed almost all of our snacks on the tram ride up. So we decided that since there would be hiking involved, we should probably pick up some additional food supplies at the Mountain Station Shop to
With two large bottles of water, a bag of trail mix, a jumbo bag of peanut M&M's, two apples and a banana and $30.00 less in our pockets, we set off on our hike.
We stopped to observe tree that fallen down across the trail. We counted rings and looked at little worms that were burrowing in to the wood.
We scurried to the top of large rocks and played in the shadows of the magnificent trees.
We tried to pose for a family photograph by using the timer on our camera.
We tried again.
And again, and I started to feel harried as Henry threw out indications that he might be getting hungry and frustrated with all of this sitting and LOOKING AT THE BLINKING LIGHT!! LOOK!!
Finally, success. Although, it does appear William is sprouting out of Charlie's head, I was amazed that everyone actually was LOOKING AT THE BLINKING LIGHT!!
I sat down on a rock and soaked up the sun with my boys.
When suddenly, William hears something. "What is that noise? THAT NOISE? What IS that?!" I replied, "I'm sure it's nothing. Sit. Smile. Soak up the sun. This is God's Country, son!"
"No. Mommy. Good feeling is gone. What is that noise? Over there, in the twee!!"
"THAT TREE. What's that noise??"
Since I was not providing the level of support and protection that was dictated under such circumstances, both William and Elizabeth ran to their father, while Carolyn retreated to the stroller.
"Daddy. What is that noise??"
"Oh, what is that? Over yonder breaks, look children! It's a little squirrel!! See it?!"
Insert blood curdling screams here.
They tried to climb on top of their father's head.
While continuing to scream.
And scream. And then, under the weight of hysteria, Charlie started to lose his balance...
And toppled like a magnificent tree in the mountain meadow.
The kids continued to scream while Carolyn looked on from the safety of the stroller.
"Are you OK over there? Are you safe? Stay there!! Don't move!! Although not attracted to EAR PIERCING SCREAMS IN A QUIET MOUNTAIN MEADOW, small North American brown squirrels that are the size of our shoe ARE attracted to sudden movements and it will SWOOP OUT OF THE TREE AND DEVOUR YOU with their RABID teeth!!"
The first and only wildlife experience offered a prompt conclusion to our nature walk. The children were terrified to put their feet on the ground, so with Elizabeth on Charlie's shoulders, Carolyn in the stroller, William on top of the stroller, and Henry in my backpack, we began the walk up the switch back trails to Mountain Station.
And up, and up and up we went.
And up. And up. While fellow hikers looked on and asked if we had heard the blood curdling screams that echoed through the still mountain air. Was it a poisonous snake? A vicious mountain lion perhaps?
But at a mountain elevation of 8500 feet, while carrying and/or pushing more than 100 pounds of children, two large bottles of water, a bag of trail mix, a jumbo bag of peanut M&M's, two apples and a banana ... I could only shake my head and gasp, "Squirrel."