Here we go, it’s not even August, yet and the thermometer needle is pointing at 120 degrees! Honestly, I didn’t think I would have been able to survive in such scorching heat before … but I’m doing it and I’m pretty proud of how I’m handling it. Well to be fair, there are a few tricks of the trade passed on to me by some longterm desert residents such as, running errands as soon as you get up (the earlier, the better between 7 and 9 a.m.), holing up in the house with the A/C and fans on until pretty much the sun goes down, going to the theatre, or driving to the nearby mountains. Since, I’m not the type who likes to stay at home, I decided to escape this inferno by catching the Palm Springs Aerial Tramway up to Mountain San Jacinto State Park. I’ve seen the huge tramway sign millions of times driving into Palm Springs, as it’s the first main attraction that greets every driver coming to town. I always wondered what it was all about, but never had the interest to explore it, as I’ve always been in a rush to reach the hotel for a pampered weekend. Now that I’m living a resort lifestyle everyday and I’m looking for new things to do, I figured that the time had come to jump on the tramway for an adventure.
First off, if you are afraid of heights (like me, sometimes) you don’t have to worry: Yes, the elevation going up the mountain is pretty high, but the rotating cart floor allows a 360 degrees of stunning scenery of the desert and the surrounding mountains that makes the fast 10 minute climb very enjoyable. As soon as you arrive to the mountain station at 8,516 feet, you feel like you’ve reached the peak of paradise, not only scenery-wise, but also in terms of wellness; the air is so thin and crispy, you instantly forget all your sufferings from the heat.
Once you leave the mountain station (which is home to the visitor center, gift shop, and restaurants), you can pick among different hiking trails to explore the state park. We chose the Adventure Center and Desert View trails, I really enjoyed walking through the vast meadows and pines and marveled at the diversity of landscape and fauna, so distinct from the desert below. I climbed some white boulders invigorated by the gentle scent of vanilla and rum of the majestic red Jeffery pines. As I paused at the different notches to admire the surrounding landscape, I was able to spot some blue birds and Steller’s Jays! After a few hours of exploring, we dined at Peak Restaurant where I had some great ricotta and beet fettuccine. Needless to say, I was in no rush to descend back into the inferno. I have the feeling I will be catching the tramway again soon, real soon!