Monday, February 13, 2012
Cactus To Clouds: A Hike
Distance: 23 miles
Total elevation gain: 10,400 (8k over the first 12 miles, 2.4k over the following 6)
5th hardest day hike in the country
Start time: 4:15am
Amount of sleep: 2.5 hours
Time it took up: 16 hours
Deals Todd made with God if we survived: 1
# of times I screamed "are you fucking kidding me?": Too many to count
A 4:15am start time meant we slept in Palm Springs the night before. Well, "slept." 3 normal people in a hotel room with someone who snores like a dinosaur was not a great way to kick off this hike. At best I got two and a half hours of sleep. Likely less. Wes, the snorer, got a solid 5 hours. Todd got maybe an hour. Manny didn't sleep at all. This colored the rest of our day.
A few miles in we got our sun rise.
Posing with the scenery. At this point things were still enjoyable.
The tallest visible peak? Yeah. Once we hit THAT we'd be halfway there.
Halfway done with the hike. 8,000 feet climbed. The last time we attempted this hike, this was as far as we got. The last time we attempted this hike I felt pretty good at this point. This time, I was already done.
The second half was all covered with snow and ice, which meant putting on crampons (basically, strapping spikes to my shoes).
The only way we knew we were on the right track is the tracks in front of us.
And then...lots of miles. Lots of cold, hard, never ending miles. The signs said 5.5 miles, but, fuck, it felt like so much more. At some point the ration of curse to none curse words in my thoughts got kind of messed up. That's as much as I want to think about that point in the hike.
The view from the top. Almost worth it.
Kicking back at the top.
Proof that *I* made it, and didn't quit on the way to the top, lie about it, and steal some pictures. And I totally never considered that.
Video from the top.
The final 6 miles back down to the tram were a race to beat the setting sun. The wind was blowing snow over the tracks. The tracks that were our only way to tell where the trail was. Yeah. We were all tired and miserable and the wind was ripping through the mountain, slamming against us.
Finally fucking done. I look way better than I felt.
Conclusion. Never again. NEVER AGAIN. Everything leading up to the hike was fun and hilarious. The company was wonderful. I was well fed and well hydrated. I was tired the whole time. I was unhappy most of the time. We all were. We all entertained thoughts of quitting.
I don't know what exactly went wrong. We had everything we needed. Lack of sleep played a HUGE factor, I know. I don't know if that was entirely it. Everything was just...off. If I had known what it would be like when I woke up Sunday morning, I would not have gone. It's a hike I will never do again. I don't know who I'd recommend it to. I'm pretty awesome. But, it's a seriously hard hike. I don't know. I feel like we failed somehow. It was much, much harder than I thought of we be. Yes, I knew it was the 5th hardest day hike in the country. Hardest in California. And yet, I didn't think it would be this hard. User error in that regard.
It was beautiful. I'll give it that. And, yeah, I feel pretty bad ass for finishing it. The company was awesome. I'm sure my legs are stronger because of it.
I don't know. It was a long, hard day.