We definitely made the most of our afternoon hike (which was more of a scramble-climb-boulder-run-and-hike.) Didn't leave the house until 1pm, started the hike at 2:15pm and made it back to the car just as darkness set in at 5pm (so early!) The internet is an amazing thing. This being new for me (finding great/hard/seasonal hikes in the area) it has come in very handy! Casey, The Modern Hiker, pointed us in the direction of a small stretch of the San Gabriels that we never would've otherwise found.
Check out these photos:
I can't believe it took me this long to appreciate what was so close to home and even longer to take advantage of it! This hike happened to start at 4500ft and the summit was 6000ft. We took off on the trail running and ohmigosh was out of breath before I knew it. I was glad when I remembered we were at altitude and not just unfit. Made me want to trek out there more regularly. Never a good feeling to think that many of my competitors (those that live/train at altitude) would feel fine on a run like this.
We got to a point where we decided to venture off the trail. Which led to a few holy $%&# moments, most during the stretch you see me on in that first photo. The rock was mostly loose, which was the problem. Lance had ventured up a different way and was able to capture it on camera, while admitting later he was laughing at me for not moving for at least 5min at one point. Haha. I was trying to laugh at it then, and we were joking that it wouldn't end up being as funny if these were the last photos that were ever taken of me if I died! It takes a lot for me to feel scared, so it was interesting for me to feel the way I did. I didn't like it. :) I'll remember to take into consideration what might, and what might not, be in store for me above my eye level next time I decide to start scrambling up a rock face.
Spanish bayonets (think very large porcupine-like plant, photo left) which are otherwise intimidating-definitely-want-to-stay-away-from kind of plants, became my friends. They were the only thing solid enough in the ground that I could pull myself upward with once i reached the brush above the rocks. I just stuck my hand down into their center, trying hard to be steady enough not to get stuck (which happened a few times) and grabbed on. It worked.
After spending a few minutes at the summit enjoying the moment and guzzling water, we decided to head back a different way. After a while though we realized we were heading toward another peak, and not toward our car. And since the sun was setting, we figured that wasn't the greatest idea, so we re-summited, which I was stoked about since I had seen many photo ops on the way down but didn't have my camera in hand. Of course we hadn't realized how far down we'd come and it seemed like a much longer way back up, but was totally worth it. I was in point-and-shoot heaven, with the light of the sunset right in the direction of where we were hiking. Amazing light and colors. The whole time feeling more like we were in the mountains of New Mexico, not 20 minutes outside of Los Angeles !
We also agreed it was WELL worth it to head back that way once we saw what was in store on the descent that was originally suggested by Casey. It was a steep, loose rock single track trail, lined with spanish bayonets, that, if coordinated well, you could actually "ski" down, standing on two feet, and otherwise, sit and luge. It was awesome. We spent a moment at the bottom watching the last bit of the sunset before running back down the hill, super fast, with the most amazing red sunsetting sky and the perfect cool tempurature: so my cold cheeks felt the cool air but my hands were warm. We never saw a soul the whole way.
...but sure that we could.
Hoping life doesn't get too busy in-season to continue venturing. I don't plan on it.
The adventures of an endurance athlete continue...