Indian Mountain and Black Mountain hike, May 27, 2017.

Not having hiked up Indian Mountain yet, I joined Diana and Jorge in an attempt to increase my mileage by summiting 2 peaks, for a total of about 14 miles with 4,000 feet of gain.

We met at the Indian Vista Point on Hwy 243, just north of Idyllwild.  The trail is basically an old dirt road, that first goes gradually downhill to a saddle, from where it goes uphill to just below the summit.  At a horseshoe bend in the road, we took a short side trail to the first high point of Indian Mountain.  After looking around for a bit, Jorge noticed the actual summit a little further up the road.  Just below the summit, we took a use trail leading us the high point, but not before Jorge suddenly stopped when he heard the familiar rattle.  This was a large rattle snake that kept rattling for a long time, obviously aggravated by our presence.  The snake crawled underneath a large rock, and Jorge decided to step over the rock towards the summit.  Diana and I instead backtracked a little and circled around the snake to the top.  The large summit rock was sitting at a steep angel, which made it impossible to climb.  We did find the HPS register however, which we all signed.  After enjoying the views and eating some snacks, we dropped back down to the road, and followed it back down to the saddle and up to the Vista Point on the Highway.

Back in our cars, we drove the 3 miles north on Hwy 243, to the trail head for Black Mountain.  Having hiked this trail before, I knew I would have a hard time getting all the way to the Fire Lookout.  The trail immediately climbs steeply uphill, which caused me to take numerous breaks to catch my breath.  At the half way point, I told Jorge that I was not sure if I would make it to the top, and that they should go ahead of me.  However, they kept encouraging me to continue.  Slowly, I kept moving uphill to where we reached the final switchbacks which lead to just below the summit.  Even though my feet were killing me and I was getting super tired, I trudged up the switchbacks to the end of the trail where we took a short break before attempting the final push to Fire Tower.  Rather than taking the old road that meanders around the summit area to the top, we decided to go straight uphill through the woods to the paved walkway leading to the bottom of the Tower.  About 100 feet below the base of the tower, we found two beautiful Snow Plants.  I had seen this plant many years ago while hiking in the Mount Baldy area.  At the time I thought I had discovered something unique, and was a little disappointed to find it has such a common name.  Exhausted, but glad I actually made it, we all high fived each other, and sat down on the rocks below the tower.  We noticed that the stairway to the top of the Lookout was open, and climbed the steps to it.  There were two volunteers, and we had a nice chat with them about the Lookout and the Jacinto Mountains.  Back at the bottom of the Lookout Tower we relaxed a little, ate some snacks and took some pictures. 

We took the same trail back down to our cars, which went a lot faster, sometimes feeling like a bowling ball rolling down the hill.  Two hours later we were back at our cars, very tired but glad we did it!

The drive home was quick, happy that there was no traffic anywhere for a change.