|Hiking||19.69 Miles|| 12 Hrs 31 Mns ||2.02 mph|
|10,989 ft AEG|| 2 Hrs 46 Mns Break|
||no linked trail guides|
|Original plan for this weekend was an easy stroll in the Supes (still dealing with some lingering shin/calf pain from Bryce Canyon) but when TNF did the impossible this week decided on a Plan B in Cali. Drove out Thursday afternoon, camped outside of Joshua Tree, and got a few hours of sleep before a 2:30am start from Palm Springs.|
Full moon + city lights made for an easy stroll, kept a hand light accessible for route verification. Trail is steep, steeper than I had imagined, and the humidity made for a pretty sweaty morning. There are a few forks to lookouts and plenty of cut-off switchbacks, route-finding was overall straightforward. Oh, and almost no overgrowth to contend with.
This was the sweet spot. Sun was coming up, interesting vegetation along the trail (including some variety of manzanita with fuzzy bark?), and there were a few saddles and flat sections to break up the previously relentless uphill grind. Stopped a few times to stretch calves and water up. V enjoyable section.
Things got steep and, once under the pines, path was sandy and tricky. Found myself pausing and turning full circles trying to get back on tread a bunch of times. As much as I enjoyed the forest and rock formations I was pretty burnt out by now and just wanted to crest. Once I did I bee-lined over to the ranger station to water up and fill out a permit for the wilderness.
Somehow I pictured Long/Round Valley as a flat, easy stroll. Nah, there's more elevation to gain, between 200-500' per mile. Pine trees were huge and pleasant and the trail was an impeccable shape. Lots of friendly hikers to chat with, including a PCT section-hiker who had some dandy gear times. Took my time on this section and just soaked up the experience.
The haul up to summit was... tough. Sure, some leg fatigue, but the altitude messed with me too. Stopped every mile to take in water and views and try to acclimate. Trail was fantastic and as close to alpine as I've been. When I reached the summit I was bummed to see just how crowded it was, lots of people seemed to be just hanging out and getting sunburnt, so I found a little ledge to take a few photos before scurrying back down.
Cruise mode. It was getting toasty by now, though it was all downhill so I didn't care too much. Trees up here are ginormous. Made it to the tram with little fanfare, got a one-way ticket and caught the next ride down. Descending on that thing gave a neat perspective of just how insane this hike is.
NOTE: reception at the bottom is spotty, it was difficult to coordinate an Uber.
Carried 4L capacity, drank most on the main climb, watered up at ranger station but only consumed 3L more (probably should have pushed more water to help w/ altitude). Consumed ~2k calories and a ton of caffeinated things. Burned 7k calories. Trail runners worked great, wished I would have done shorts instead of pants. Temps cooperated, started in the 80s and felt a noticeable drop as I climbed. Sun was hot on top, breeze helped. Will definitely be back.