1 Night on San Gorgonio

This was the second backpacking trip of the year and by far the most memorable.

Trip Details:

Distance: ~18 miles round trip
Elevation Gain: ~5,400 feet
Parking: Parking Spaces– display an Adventure Pass or Annual Pass on your dash. There is also a gravel parking area with no permits necessary.
Permit: Required for a day hike and for an overnight.
Trailhead: 41900 Falls Rd Forest Falls, CA 92339
Type: Out and back
Restrooms: Yes- At the parking lot area there are vault toilets.

Considering Humber Park to Round Valley was only my second backpacking trip ever in life, backpacking the tallest mountain in SoCal was fairly ambitious and a little crazy. My guy and I snagged an overnight permit to camp at the summit of San Gorgonio and even more nuts is the fact that I had never previously done this hike. It was a lot of firsts.

IMG_6873

Since we were spending the night, we didn’t get started on the hike itself until maybe 10am and by then it was fairly warm. The start of the hike is a bit confusing. You hike through Mill Creek which looks like a park. You follow a rocky river bed up until you see an Information board and numerous signs marking the trail. You cross the actual river bed which is pretty rocky until you get to a shadier dirt trail that just goes up and up.

Full disclosure, I did not take many photos during this hike. It was incredibly challenging for me for a variety of reasons, but mainly because it was long and composed of a type of trail that I really don’t enjoy– rocky and steep. The first part of the hike is the toughest in terms of pure elevation gain. It’s a relentless uphill, but luckily it is mostly shaded. There are a number of water sources along the trail, the first at Vivian Creek about a mile into the hike and the other at High Creek Camp about 5 miles in. We took brief breaks at both locations to refuel and refill our water bottles. From High Creek Camp there is still about 5 miles of trail left to go with the last mile being fairly steep and barren.

IMG_6876

Real talk, this trip kicked my butt. I cried at some point– I think it was 2 miles shy of the summit. I was very close to calling it a day right then, but for some reason, the physical and emotional exhaustion was replaced with a kind of steely determination. I asked myself if looking back on that trip, would I feel okay with having stopped shy of the summit and I knew that I would have regretted not moving forward. So I kept moving.

IMG_6880

We made it to the top as the sun went down. I’d never felt more accomplished in a hike and I enjoyed the moment only briefly as it was cold and very windy and we still had to pitch our tent. We managed get our tent up and actually sleep a little before we started back down at sunrise.

IMG_6878

I’m so glad that I didn’t stop. I’m so glad that I was challenged enough to have to push through something like I did. I think about how easy it is in day to day life to avoid difficult situations. To side step things that will discomfort, and agitate, and push you. When you are more than halfway up the side of the tallest mountain in SoCal, there are few options, keep going or don’t. I chose to keep going.

 

Advertisements

Humber Park to Round Valley

I went on my first backpacking trip of the season (only my second backpacking trip ever) this past weekend in the San Jacinto Mountains with my main man. We hiked up to San Jacinto Peak twice before via the Marion Mountain trail, but this was our first time backpacking in its environs. It turned out to be the perfect weekend to escape the city with highs in the 80s and the trails free of snow and ice.

Trip Details:

Distance: ~15 miles round trip
Elevation Gain: ~4,000 feet
Parking: Parking Spaces– display an Adventure Pass or Annual Pass on your dash
Cost: $10 permit
Trailhead: 24559 Fern Valley Rd, Idyllwild-Pine Cove, CA 92549
Type: Out and back
Permits: Overnight permit for Round Valley Campground. Pick this up at the San Jacinto State Park office (25905 CA-243, Idyllwild, CA 92549). It opens at 8am. We were there before it opened.
Restrooms: Yes- At Humber Park and outhouses in Round Valley

IMG_6863

Since this was only my second time backpacking, duration wasn’t something on my mind. Coming off of half marathon training, my legs were working new muscles and my back and shoulders were unaccostumed to hauling a heavy load. We took our time and enjoyed the scenery.

Heading off from Humber Park
Starting the climb. Humber Park to Round Valley.

From Humber Park you take Devil’s Slide 4.6 miles in a steady elevation gain to Saddle Junction (1610 ft) which is a popular place to break and have lunch or a quick snack. The views along the way are beautiful.

From Saddle Junction, you get on a portion of the PCT until you reach Wellman’s Divide  (1.7 miles) and this sign. Along the way, we ran into some thru hikers from Wisconsin who were on mile 108 of their journey to Canada and wavering a little on their decision. I hope they stick with it, but 108 miles is accomplishment in itself.

From Wellman’s devide, there is only 1 more mile until Round Valley and it’s mostly downhill to boot.

IMG_6844 (1)

After a one mile descent along a meandering portion of the trail, you finally reach Round Valley Campground– or at least the hub of Round Valley Campground. Use the water spigot as a marker that you’ve made it. If you decide to camp there, make sure to visit the “ranger station” structure to get a look at where the various campsites are situated. They are all a bit spread out which means privacy, but also a bit of a hunting required.

We’d planned to rest and enjoy the scenery until the sun went down, but we had just enough energy to set up camp and make dinner before we retreated into our little tent and promptly conked out. It had been quite a day (we were up at 4am!).

We were up bright and early the next day, had some Mountain House eggs and instant coffee, and started our decsent.

All in all, it was a great weekend backpacking trip. Another easier variation you could do is take the Palm Springs tram up and backpack to Round Valley from there– about 2.5 miles each way.

 

It’s been a while…

It’s been a whirlwind month for me hence no posting. Here is a quick summary:

Big Event #1:

I completed my first Half Marathon! Coming in at a blazing 2 hrs and 28 minutes 😉

Image uploaded from iOS
San Diego Beach and Bay Half Marathon 2018

Lessons from the marathon experience:

  1. There’s a lot of waiting around. From checking a bag, to waiting for the porter potty, to waiting for your wave to start (11min pace). Be prepared to wait.
  2. High-fives are really motivating! Every encouraging cheer or high five from the onlookers felt like a Nintendo Star boost 🙂
  3. Trust in your training. Sometimes I feel like this new ability to run for a long period of time will go away– that I will wake up one day and I won’t be able to do it. It’s an irrational fear. On race day, I was able to do exactly what I had done the previous 12 Saturdays.

 

Big Event #2:

I’m climbing Mount Whitney in July!

Image uploaded from iOS (1)

Mount Whitney has been on my list for some time and this year I get the shot at the summit. I’ll also get to camp for a night on the way to the summit which means I get some time to enjoy the experience.

Big Event #3:

I’m climbing Half Dome in September! I know, I know. If it wasn’t enough to get a Whitney permit, I also got a Half Dome permit. Needless to say, hiking season is upon us and I need to start training. I’m really hoping all of this running will help with my hiking stamina.

Image uploaded from iOS (2)
Mini Training Hike around Baldwin Hills Overlook.

It feels good to have some adventures planned out.  I promise not to let too much time pass before posting on my progress.

Running is Mental

One of my resolutions for 2018 is to run a half marathon.

I’ve never been a runner. When I used to think about running, I would flashback to 12 year old me who dreaded the physical fitness test because I had to run a mile in 11 minutes. I was on the heavier side and although I was somewhat athletic (I played softball), running was more like torture to me than something athletic. When I did have to run a mile, I would jog the first two laps and then walk the rest of the way and feel satisfied that it was the best that I could do.

This middle school thinking followed me to high school. Even though I’d lost the baby weight and started playing more sports (softball AND tennis), I still hated running. We would have to run around the tennis courts or circle the bases before practice and I would always phone it in– coming in somewhere at the tailend of the pack. In college, I would never run unless I had to, and even then, 1 mile was my max limit.

Yesterday, I ran 10 miles. It’s the longest distance I’ve run to date.

Screen Shot 2018-03-12 at 9.55.20 AM

 

It has taken me a long time to figure out that running has very little to do with athletic ability and very much to do with mental strength. When I made up my mind at 12 that I wasn’t a runner, I never gave myself the chance to become one. But I’m changing that. 2018 is shaping up to be the year of personal accountability and re-invention. I’m taking ownership of my own past negativity about myself, and letting go of what was limiting and never really true.

Los Leones to Parker Mesa Overlook

Here is a quick write up of the hike I discussed in my first post. It’s Los Leones (near the Pacific Palisades) to Parker Mesa Overlook which is part of Topanga State Park.

Distance: about 7 miles
Elevation Gain: 468 meters/ 1,535 feet
Duration: 2-3 hours
Parking: Yes- Lots and street
Cost: Free!
Trailhead: https://goo.gl/maps/7JuvgochBrJ2
Type: Out and back
Permits: None needed
Restrooms: Yes- At the trailhead and one near the overlook.

Tips: Get there early, it’s a popular trail (~ 6am). If you can’t get there early, make sure you bring a hat since a majority of the trail is exposed.

948F37EC-B79D-4E1D-9FC3-B7E4AE87D66E

Photos:

Beginnings

Being in my thirties, I’m a fairly late bloomer when it comes to hiking, camping, and all things outdoorsy. I really only started taking hiking seriously in 2016 when, after having my photo taken for the company website, I saw what four years of working behind a desk (and free snacks) had done to me. Since I couldn’t stand the thought of being on an elliptical or treadmill for an hour and I was too self-conscious of my body to join a yoga class,  I chose hiking as the thing that would bring me back to life from my 9-5 coma.

My thinking, at the time, was that I had done a few hikes here and there which I didn’t remember being too difficult, hiking would get me outside and away from the internet which I needed, and it was basically just walking except uphill which I felt I could definitely do– easy enough right?

IMG-6136

One of the first hikes I did was 7.3 miles and normally completed between 2-3 hours. It took me almost 8 hours to finish. I was out of breath almost the entire time. I needed a break every few minutes. I complained… a lot. At some point, I even felt as though I’d forgotten how to walk. By the end of it, I was physically and mentally exhausted. Actually, the better word is defeated. I was defeated.

And that’s how I fell in love with hiking.

Like those rom-coms where Protagonist A and Protagonist B bring out such a fiery and unexpected reaction from one another that they ultimately can’t stay away from each other– that’s what hiking did to me. That first hike, and the roller coaster of emotions that I experienced, was uncomfortable, and invigorating, and revealing.

Looking in the mirror, it was easy to see what a sedentary lifestyle had done to me physically. But climbing up that mountain, I realized what a sedentary lifestyle had done to me mentally. As the hike became more and more difficult , my first thoughts were not to keep going that I got this, my thoughts were, why am I doing this? this is hard, I could be watching Netflix and eating cheese puffs right now.

After taking a few days to ruminate on the entire experience, I made the active decision not to be the person I was on that hike. I didn’t want to be someone who gave up when things got difficult. I didn’t want defeat to be my default setting in the face of obstacles. So not only did I resolve to keep at it, I set a goal for myself that year. The goal was to complete the SoCal Six Pack of Peaks. Climb six mountains of increasing elevation gain and difficulty around Southern California.

I bagged 5 of the 6 peaks that summer. I went backpacking for the first time. I saw views of California that I had never seen before. I met people on the trail that were kind and encouraging. I got braver. I got stronger. I felt grateful for my body. I surprised myself time and time again.