Saturday, July 4, 2009

More miles than we bargained for!

So... here's the story. Our wonderful friends, Jen and Travis told us about this hike in the San Gorgonio Wilderness (in the San Bernardino Mountains). It's called the Vivian Creek Trail and it's summits at the highest peak in Southern California at around 11,500 feet. So, we figured since we're hiking Half Dome in Yosemite with the two of them in a month's time, we'd also get a good trial hike in to prepare us. Here's the timeline:

Friday July 3, 2009
6 a.m. - Wake up unhappy because it's too stinking early...
6:30 a.m. - Leave the house for the 100 mile drive.
7:55 a.m. - Arrive at the ranger station to get our mandatory permits for hiking ... but the rangers were late about 20 minutes and by the time they finally arrived, they were cranky and gave us some bad news... NO more permits for the Vivian trail. Too many had been given out. Then more bad news. We could hike another trail that would take us to summit, but it was 38 miles further in the car and 10 miles of it being on a DIRT road. Fine.
9:45 a.m. - Arrive at the Fish Creek Trailhead, hike begins.
2:00 p.m. - Really exhausted and not excited about what seems more miles.... but then we ran into some other guys who tried to motivate us to the top. Alas, we conceeded, only to pay for it later.
2:45 p.m. - Arrive at summit, wait 10 minutes, then head back down for another 11.4 miles of absolute pain and misery.
6:30 p.m. - Arrive at our car.
7:30 p.m. - Finally driving out of the wilderness after the crazy dirt road which Ray handled with amazing agility and patience.
9:00 p.m. - Arrive at the Pizza Hut/Taco Bell for food heaven.
10:00 p.m. - Arrive home to shower and crash!

Here are some photos and captions of the hike as we went along...

It doesn't look scary here, but for 10 miles in a low clearance car, it's not enjoyable at 5 miles/hr.
More dirt road... bump... bump... bump...
More? Oye...
Finally, the trailhead. Yeah, no one has ever checked out permits. Not here, not at Mt. Whitney, not anywhere! But... we follow the rules!
Some scenic views and pretty lush valleys
Really lush greens for the first few miles
Still smiling while crossing one of the first (of 3) streams
Is this the doing of the Pine beetle?
I just wanted to lay in that awesome grass. Should've!
Such tropical plants in such a desert place
More on the hike. I don't remember this photo one bit!
This is the summit. Try to make out the American flag and random Mexican "Dia de los Muertos" looking flag hanging in the background. Where's the plaquard? Easy button? Sign of congratulations? There might have been, except we were too tired to search for it! Ray, looking in good spirits despite the 11.4 miles to go...
It's JULY! And yes... that's snow.
This is it!
Walking on the way back with the snow in sight...
C-47 crash that occurred in 1953. It's what was left over after the military crash. Somewhat eery. This is the view up the mountain and the next picture is a view down the mountain of more shrapnel.
Down the mountain scraps
Up the mountain, another view with the small memorial sign.
The sign...

All in all, we've reconfirmed that we're di-hards by nature and that we, unfortunately, aren't quitters. We should've been quitters at our maximum time of 2:30, but kept going regardless. It was a good training hike, but with the smog, it made it a bit more anti-climactic than anticipated. The views are supposed to be spectacular, but the smog coverage made it difficult to make out. I should've also taken more photos and usually do... but I was just so exhausted! The ranger station gave us paperwork telling us the hike was 11.4 miles each way, making this a 22.8er. We wanted a 16er (like Half Dome), not a Mt. Whitney distance (like we got). Some conflicting views in cyberspace about how far the hike really was, but we are comfirming over 20. Phew.

Wildlife sightings: Coyote! (in the car), many lizards, beetles, birds, squirrels, skunk smell... but NO snakes of tarantulas. What a rip off! ;) ... my mom thinks I'm crazy!

Last tidbit: Many of you are probably wondering... didn't you just have Lasik THREE days ago? My answer: YEP! A 9 hour hike with a new pair of eyes... I just couldn't be more excited!

More hike photos to come when we tackle the real deal... Half dome, in August!