This one seemed to barely take off with questionable snow/ice in the preceding days. Bob set us up to leave at 9:45pm on Friday. It was necessary to do this without camping/hoteling it and get us on the tram in hours of operation with time to spare. As most of us go to bed around that time it required some pre-planning to be ready for this monster hike. I didn't do so well and should have thought it out better...
PM Snippet: I'll be ready regardless! A little tired though as I woke up at 4am this morning in hopes of sleeping 2pm to 7pm. Took the sleeping pills at 1:30pm. Chris called at 2:53pm, Bob sent a text at 3:22pm, I got smart and turned the phone off, the kids came home 3:40pm, my "Hiker sleeping note, PLEASE be quite" note totally ignored...
With maybe 1.5hrs sleep I felt lucky to get another ~2hrs sleep on the ride to Cali.
In the most awkward setting parked in front of a museum in a city we set out to tackle San Jacinto from a tucked in trailhead in the back of the parking lot. Whoever went through the ropes to make this possible deserves some huge kudos! At just under 60 degrees we headed up and I mean straight up.
Upon reaching the picnic table area it was noticeably getting cooler. Bob's plan was to break five minutes each hour. Which we did religiously as I was appointed "break boss". Most of the breaks did run long too. Okay back to the picnic tables... Soon after we all started adding layers. An hour later up the well trodden trail it became very apparent this hike had a new element... sweating like a pig and freezing at the same time, joy! Having not read up on this hike I packed twice the water necessary and didn't bring a dry shirt. At the last minute I took the fleece liner out of my jacket as I didn't have room with all the water. Luckily I was able to leave several quarts of water behind at the truck, if nobody said anything I would have been tolled.
The shock therapy treatment went on for about four hours getting worse or course as the temps dropped with altitude. Midway I thought I had it figured out. I picked up the pace and was feeling great! However I was getting pretty far ahead of the group and figured I best wait up. The sun had just risen and views were opening up, mainly of pollution in the city below. Then I made one of the bigger mistakes of my life. I was so friggen hot I took my shirt off. About five-ten minutes later just after Bob arrived I started getting cold. I was shivering so bad it was almost comical. It cleared up some once we got moving again but I was never warm
again until later in the day. It was at this stop that I learned I'd lost a glove on route. It wasn't as bad as I initially thought as hands in the pockets with body warmth were ten times better than hands in a glove.
The continued climb up to the tram station was just miserable for myself. My relentless negativity is somewhat documented in the video... sorry
Fairly close to the huge granite dome I decided I just needed to eat. So I whipped out my Blimpies and told Denny and Wally to continue on. About five minutes later Bob showed up with Berk who wasn't fairing so well. We all took a long 20+ minute break. For myself this was too long as I got bitterly cold again and the shakes started kicking back in. Bob immensely enjoyed watching me try and pour balsamic vinegar and olive oil on my sandwich while shaking.
Up and past the granite dome was just torture with steepness, freezing and sweating combined. Then we smelled the sewage of mountain station. Wally had told me they would meet us at the ranger station. Although I responded "okay" it didn't sink in as I was so friggen hungry with my mind set on my sandwich. Hence we blew a good half hour trying to find Denny and Wally.
At this point I seriously didn't think we were going to attempt the summit. Berk wasn't having a good day, Wally's legs where tightening up and the sweat/freeze torture certainly took it's toll on all of us. Denny had the permits, Berk was game, perhaps only Wally and I had second thoughts. To make things more interesting I poured all my water out before the granite dome as Bob had read there's water in the restrooms. There's water alright, I think it's directly tapped to the toilets. It's horrid to put it lightly. Luckily Bob gave me some Crystal Light and a water tablet that helped amazingly!
For the first two miles to the summit I wasn't fairing well at all. How I made it that far is a miracle. Then I started feeling a tad better when the signs indicated we were closer than anticipated. Finally in the sun (Kurt's Death Star is my favorite friend at times!) I started feeling normal, the old body was churning once again. Huey Lewis found a new drug and gave it all to me. All the trammers that passed us earlier were getting their dose of reality and were passed swiftly on the final switchbacks to the summit.
The view really is nice at the summit. It's a tiny space on a slanting boulder. Hordes of people were coming so I didn't want to hog the space and quickly got down after shooting a 360 degree video. I signed in at the register in the cabin and headed back down. Felt great until that last 1.7 miles to the mountain station. Get-home-itus was running full steam as I dragged out that last segment. In the lobby we all gathered soon and took the tram down. The tram ride down was OUT OF THIS WORLD, unfortunately the video does it zero justice. Perhaps being so tired added to sensation. One thing to note, whereas Disney has the best customer service on earth, mountain station will go out of their way to make you feel like crap. They're sitting on a winner, it's obvious customer service is their last priority.
Overall this might make my top 20. It looses a little luster hiking up in the dark. In addition to being so demanding coming from AZ so the enjoyment factor leans heavily on completion over journey. The happy ending to the story is my other glove was in the lawn beside where we parked. How in the world all the people passing by didn't bother it is amazing. Even the truck had a lipstick kissed on smiley face on the window from a passerby.
Thanks to everybody in the group, this was an awesome adventure! Time includes about 1.5hrs of breaks. In retrospect I think straight through aside from a ten minute lunch would have faired better for myself.
Mileage and AEG are a guestimate as I don't have TOPO! for California. I'm working on an addition to uploading routes to justify elevation verse DEM data. When I get this one processed I'll update all triplogs with 11,631 ft to the correct figure.