Monday, July 23, 2007

Feadog or Irish Whistle - Lightpainted (July 2007)

So I set a goal to climb the "3 highest*" peaks in Southern California within a week's time. This occurred on a whim last weekend while climbing Mt. San Antonio (aka Mt. Baldy) with an elevation of 10064ft. I was with a small group, and we took the Baldy Bowl trail to the top, then continued across the top and down the Devil's Backbone, which I highly recommend for its brief, but impressive route along a sharp, exposed ridge with steep drops on either side. Considering the mountain is an hour from Los Angeles, and walking across the top feels like another world entirely, it's a worthwhile experience. Our group summited at around 5:00PM on Saturday.

The next peak on my agenda was San Jacinto (aka San Jacinto) at 10,834 ft elevation, which I had climbed twice previously, so doing it this time was a minor formality, and I did it solo on Wednesday after giving my legs a chance to recover from Baldy. I finished in roughly 4 hours, which was a personal record, although I hadn't really kept track of my other times. So far, I've only climbed it using the shortest route available, which is from the top of the Palm Springs Aerial Tramway (~11 miles round trip). Someday I may do the route from the base of the mountain in Palm Springs, but that will be in the far distant future.

The last peak, San Gorgonio (aka Old Greyback) at an elevation of 11,502ft would prove to be the most difficult, and a day and a half were set aside to conquer it. The trail I chose to do is, without a doubt, the best trail in Southern California, and I'm not at liberty to say which trail it was, as it's not on any maps. It's a secret trail, so to speak, passed down from generation to generation until it now exists in most minds as a mere myth, and though it is well-hidden, I am here to attest to its existance and the existance of Shangri-la in SoCal.

The trail was good. It was long (~24 miles round trip, or 12/13ths the length of a marathon!). Our group of three made it to the top, summitting around 3:00PM, thus completing my week's goal, and got rained on. Who would have guessed that could happen in Southern California in the summer? Then we plunge-stepped our way back down toward the car. I fell in a river on the way. Turns out one can choose a better method of crossing than a large slippery and slightly decomposed log angled at 45 degrees down a hill toward the water at which point one has to jump to a second slippery, even more decomposed log sticking out from the opposite shore. So, I got wet. It wasn't even graceful. I did manage to save my backpack from entering the miry depths...

We drove back home, and when attempting to get out of the car, my legs took a few moments to begin functioning again. It turns out hiking up and down a mountain trail 12/13ths as long as a marathon does a number on one's legs. I've decided I'm done climbing mountains for the foreseeable future.

* The three peaks generally recognized as the highest are Mt. Baldy, San Jacinto, and San Gorgonio, although there are nine peaks around San Gorgonio which are higher than Mt. Baldy, and five of those are higher than San Jacinto. I wasn't up to doing 11 peaks in a week, although I'm told there is a guy who does the 9 around San Gorgonio in one day, which he does on a weekly basis. I'm 100% certain I will never do that.


Blogger Ms.Hey said...

Wow. You're hardcore. If I were you, I would have stressed the 24 mile length a little more.

By the way, congratulations on learning how to operate a manual. Talk about baptism by fire though.

Monday, July 30, 2007  
Blogger An Enlightened Fellow said...

I've taken your advice and given more emphasis to the 24 miles.

I don't know about baptism by fire, but it was at least baptism by violent lurching and stalling, which is probably just as bad. :)

Monday, July 30, 2007  

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