Sunday, November 15, 2009

Cactus to the Clouds

Yesterday at twilight Steven and I set out on the Cactus to the Clouds hike to the peak of Mt. San Jacinto. The climb starts in downtown Palm Springs on the desert floor.

The first 3 hours consisted of climbing while watching the sunrise and an array of cacti and shrubs for scenery.

Behind me in the background you can see the top of the tram (overpriced gondolla). From the base to that point is 12 miles and 8,000 feet of climbing. It took us six hours to reach the tram. Ironically the tram ride takes 11 minutes.

The final climb before the top of the tram is pretty steep. The best part was that we were so far away from anything the only sounds were those from nature. No cars, lawn mowers, people, etc.

At the tram we refilled water bottles and climbed another 5.5 miles to the summit. The entire day we were fighting the clock to beat the sun. We did not want to get caught on the mountain before sunset.

At 7,000 feet we hit our first snow.

Peanut-butter-jelly-time at about 9,000 feet.

The summit: 10,834 feet.

The trees were plastered on one side with snow. At the top the wind chill was probably in the 20s. I had on 4 shirts, a vest, hat, gloves, etc. We spent about 5 minutes at the top and when my fingers went numb we started moving fast again. Steven even humored me and trail-ran with me on the way down. This was my favorite part of the day.

At the end of the day we spent just under 11 hours covering 23 miles of trails. And let me tell you, my tram ride down the mountain at 5pm was worth every penny!