Aug 20, 2009

Steve's bucket list: Cactus to Clouds

This is part of a series of posts where I discuss items on my "bucket list." the introduction to the series is here.

Valley Floor to Summit of Mt. San Jacinto - 17.5 miles, 10,400' of climb. Extreme heat in the summer at lower elevations, lots of snow in the winter higher up.

This is another one that has been on my mind for years, before I was ever involved in ultra-running. I have hiked to the summit of Mt. San Jacinto before. Took the tram from 2500' to 8500' and hiked the rest of the way. That was a lot of fun, but I left unsatisfied as it felt like taking the tram was "cheating." Doing the real thing - ascending from the desert floor - has been in the back of my mind ever since. It's not a particularly long hike at 17.5 miles, but where else can you claim a sustained climb of over 10 thousand feet without a significant break? Therein lies the intrigue.

Then there is the weather. Palm Springs it hot, which makes a summer ascent perilously difficult. Winter is just as dangerous, as the snow at the summit can be dozens of meters deep, and it doesn't melt before the valley is over 100ยบ every day. There is no water and no way out in the first 8000' of climbing. So timing is important - go up at the right time of year, starting at the right time of day. And, of course, be in shape.

One thing I'd like to do is, rather than return to palm springs, actually traverse the divide and hike to idylwild. For some reason that really appeals to me.