Sunday, April 27, 2008

FINALLY Bagged a Summit!

Having obtained such a fine walking stick yesterday, I was eager to try it out on a hike. But I learned my lesson last week that while the gates are always closed during ski season, USFS isn't quite so quick to reopen them after ski season officially ends. And with gas prices what they are, we thought we'd look for a nice local hike instead of driving all the way into the mtns.

We picked a fairly strenuous local hike, climbing 1000 feet in elevation, mostly over the last half-mile of a two-mile trail. The summit? Saddleback Butte peak, a granite butte reaching 3651' in elevation and offering a magnificent 360-deg view of the Antelope Valley in the Mojave desert. We didn't even leave home until after 4 in the afternoon, but we were home before sunset at ~7:30. It was an excellent workout and great training.

We were about two weeks too late to enjoy the fabulous wildflowers, but all around us were drying/dried flowers. We saw TONS of Silver Puff and Fiddleneck, plus huge fields of goldfields. I saw several dune primrose, and a desert dandelion-type flower that was pale purple. The joshua trees that dot the park were full of blooms and buds.

The grade was steady from the moment we hit the trail, but fairly gentle and sandy until the base of the saddle. Then it became a scrabbly trail climbing at a nice grade, definitely strenuous enough that it is truly proof of the miraculous that I can do it at all.

Once we reached the saddle, we took a steep trail climbing the boulders and crumbling decomposing granite to reach the summit at the saddle back.


Summit view to the NE

Summit view to the WNW

Summit view to the SW

Summit view to the ESE

My lungs and respiratory system greatly enjoyed the workout, and rewarded me by releasing all kinds of toxins and bad stuff (yesterday's fires didn't help) in the form of lots of congestion and one very runny nose. Note to self: don't forget your tissues or handkerchiefs next time, and definitely when you climb Mt. Whitney!

We left the parking lot sometime around 4:30, made the summit around 5:45, poked around looking for a geocache we cdn't find, and were back to the parking lot by sometime between 6:45 and 7 pm. My pedometer shows the hike took me more than 13k steps, which gives you an idea of how steep that trail is (no length of stride there).

I've decided I like my hiking boots and socks; today's hike really helped work the heels of them. They are comfortable overall, and I like my footing in them. I will go buy more pairs of those hiking socks, as they seem to be thick enough without being too much in the heat.

I was sore when I started and sore when I finished, but overall, nothing that isn't age appropriate!

WOW!!! That was AMAZING!!!

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