It was a weekend like pretty much any other weekend this year. We were off to go hiking and I was using this this hike as a Mt. Whitney training hike. Just a little 13 mile round trip excursion to summit San Jacinto Peak and back to get a little distance and a little altitude (4,500 feet in elevation gain). It’ll be perfect, or at least that’s what I thought.
San Jacinto Peark rises out of the Coachella Valley above Palm Springs. Most winters you would find it covered in snow and glowing in the distance. But, thanks to the lack of any sort of winter weather to speak of here in California, San Jacinto Peak was sadly lacking in the snow department. Maybe, I should modify that to say that it was lacking in anything resembling white stuff when Lexi and I headed out. The weather report said there might be a little bit of a storm coming in with maybe a little rain. I thought, a little rain never hurt anyone and it’s been ages since I’ve gone hiking in the rain. I’ve hiked in fog, a little sprinkle, a bit of a drizzle, even freshly fallen show. A little rain on a hike will be fine. It might even be fun. We’ll get all muddy and when we get home we can take a nice hot shower and watch the mud just melt away. Plus, Lexi was due up for a bath so we might as well go out in style. So, away we went.
We met up with a friend who’s hiking the Pacific Crest Trail (PCT) early on a fine looking Saturday morning. He had stayed with some other hikers in the town of Idywild, CA. I picked him up, we grabbed some breakfast at The Town Baker (a huge cinnamon roll and coffee – both where excellent!) and set off to the trail head. The sun was coming up, the sky was blue, and there were just a couple of clouds in the sky. We ate, grabbed our packs, and set off. It was perfect. Lexi was having a great time as she always does and I was learning all about these people who call themselves “thru-hikers”. They’re hiking all the way from Mexico to Canada and it’s taking most of them about six months.
About half way up the trail, the sun started to become a little less and less, while the clouds became more and more. Soon, we were walking in what felt like a giant cloud. A very wet, thick, cold, and rather windy cloud, but we soldiered on. Eventually we broke out the rain gear because this weather was getting rather obnoxious. It wasn’t just raining it was ice. Cold, hard, unforgiving ice. We even stopped to take pictures of my frozen hair. Yes, frozen! That’s was a first! Probably not a last. I am kinda falling in love with all of these adventures that push me past my normal comfort zone. Before you know it I’m going to be jumping out of a helicopter with my snowboard and heading into the back country. Haha!
Anyway, the hike also started to get a lot harder. This elevation was starting to kick my butt. I’m usually not one to really suffer with altitude. But I am in my 30’s and people tell me things change. Of course, I don’t want to believe them. I’d much rather think that I could easily keep up with my former 18 year old self. Yes, I might be a little bit delusional, but just go with me on this, at least for now. So, here we are hiking along, or in my case, plodding along, and I can’t figure out why I’m such a hot mess. Then a realize that it could be because two days earlier I donated blood to the lovely people of the American Red Cross. Yep, I really thought this through. Before hiking 13 miles to an elevation of 10k feet, you should go donate some blood. Well, let’s just hope that my blood went to save someones life and that it was not in vain (that was a terrible pun, I’m sorry. I’ll shut up now and get back to the rest of the story).
Eventually, we had to turn around. The weather was getting really bad and I was running out of steam. Lexi and I both looked like we had gone through and ice storm. Oh, wait, we were in an ice storm. This was getting a little ridiculous. So, we headed back to the car, through the ice, then the rain, then the torrential downpour, along the trail that was once a trail and was now a steam, all the was back to the car. It felt like the longest seven-ish miles of my life.
We grabbed a spare set of dry clothes out of the Subie and ran over to the bathrooms as there was a large overhang that sheltered us from most of the rain but none of the bitterly cold wind that tore through. We pealed off our wet clothes – nothing like stripping in .275 seconds while your whole body is practically frozen. We were dressed in .182 second and running back to the car. Oh, praise the inventors of the seat heaters in Subies! Geniuses! They are my new heroes!
We left Idyllwild and slowly made our way down the mountain in the torrential down pour only to arrive in Palm Springs where the skies where mostly clear and the temps were quite delightful. It was almost lik the previous few hours hadn’t even happened. We found a place serving Ramen and ate our hearts out then went to the hotel to crash. I might have fallen asleep in mid-conversation. I can’t remember. I tend to do that on occasion. Especially if it’s after 10pm, sometimes 9pm. You’d think I was some sort of old lady or something.
Anyway, the following day, the sun was shining and the temps were rising. We ran a few errands and then picked up date shakes at Hadley’s and burgers from In N’ Out in Cabazon. If you’ve never had a date shake, stop what you’re doing right now and find one. They’re super good, but then again I love dates, and I love milkshakes, so really they’re like a match made in heaven in my book. Oh, and order Animal Fries from In n’ Out. They’re messy and amazing! Oh, and make sure you have extra few napkins. We picnicked, if you want to call it that, while sitting under the very unique and rather random dinosaurs in the desert.
After stuffing our faces I took my friend back to the PCT and dropped him off for his hike to Big Bear. Then I was headed home to give Lexi a bath, for she now really smelled like a dirty ol’ dog, and to dry out my gear. Also, to make sure that all my hair hadn’t fallen out from being frozen. 🙂