To The Edge of My Circle

Acorn Trail and Sheep Mountain Wilderness, 9,468 Elevation, 11 miles and 3,000 ft elevation gain.  The day started with hiking up, up, and up a private road to get to the trailhead which was almost a mile which means that adds almost 2 more miles to the posted 11 mile hike. Acorn Trail was 2.7 mi and an elevation gain of 1,500 ft. It was pretty steep and a little narrow in a few places but not any more difficult than what I have done in the past.

The group.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAWe get to the top of Acorn Trail at the PCT intersection, take a break and then head out onto a fire road for a short while.  I am sporting my new backpack, it’s bigger than the one I usually use.  I am hoping this will be big enough for Mt.Whitney and I am carrying a heavier load in preparation for that trip.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

We stop to take a look at the views and then I am told we are going to be hiking up the ridge of this huge mountain. I think he is kidding. He asks me if I read the Meetup description and of course I did but I didn’t remember exactly what it said and certainly didn’t see that this was an advanced hike as I would soon find out.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERASo as I feel I am an optimist, most of the time, I continue and look forward to the challenge as an opportunity to once again get out of my comfort zone as that is why I am here. But before we reach the next trail head, Sheep Mountain Wilderness area, we stop to take a look over the edge and we are greeted with a nice surprise, a Big Horn Sheep in the distance.600_333711452And a beautiful view of the High Desert.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Back on the trail we start up the trail to the top, we have another two miles to go and another 1,500 ft. The next mile was down a steep trail and then up again.  I will let the pictures tell story.

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OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAAbove: This was the last photo (Todd) I took before I headed back down.  Below: This is the last photo of me, before I headed back.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAMore on that later.  Here are few photos others took on the rest of the hike.

600_333876332Photo Above and Below: This was right above where I stopped.

600_333876302Above: Kira on the left. Below: Sydnie on the side of a hill.

600_333909622Below: The 6 remaining hikers take a break before they head back down. Two women made it to the top.

600_333876942A few photos of the way down from the top. Not much of a trail. Right?

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600_333920102So back to my decision to stop and head back down.  Two hikers out of the 11 had already decided they were done, I figured I could catch up to them as they were not to far ahead of me. The way down was just as tough as the way up and a very slow go. When I stopped to take my last photo my mind had already decided it was done.   I sat there for a minute trying to get myself together as my adrenaline was at a high.  I had reached the edge of my circle of move closer, stay longer.  I decided to go with my gut feeling of I am done.  So I headed down the hill.  I stopped at one point and noticed Kira also heading back down the hill so I decided to wait for her as we should always stay together. So we head down the hill and we catch up to Mark and Veronica who found a nice place to have some lunch.  Kira and I decided to hike down a little further to a warmer place and wait for them.  The four of us hiked down to the PCT/Acorn junction to wait for the others to come down.  It was a two hour wait. So we chatted about hikes and life and kids and had snacks.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThe others get back and I notice Angel is missing.  She had turned back about 10 minutes after Kira.  We never saw her. She had been seen by a man and his son and they had pointed her in the right direction. We made a plan and headed back down the hill and called 911 on our way down, lucky to have cell phone and a signal. By the time we got down the hill Mark had received a phone call and she had been found by two hikers. I don’t know the whole story yet, but I am glad she was found.  I am not sure how she got lost.  With my horseback riding experience I am always aware of my surroundings, landmarks so that I don’t get lost. This was a close call. A helicopter was about ready to fuel up and take off to go look for her.

Even though I didn’t get to the top I was super happy with what I did accomplish on this hike. My first advanced hike and I didn’t even know it.  I met some knew hikers and we all took some great pictures. A few of my favorites.600_333920672 OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA600_333908942

Heading in the right direction

Yesterday I hiked Millard Campground to Inspiration Point out of Altadena near Pasadena with Adventures Unlimited Meetup. 12 miles and elevation gain of 2,600.

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This is my second time hiking with this group.  They are serious hikers and have been challenging me for sure. We spent a good 6.5 hours hiking up this beautiful canyon to Echo Mountain which is coincidentally the historic site for Mt. Lowe Railway. It was interesting to see how they built this railway on the side of the mountain. Many rails have disappeared. Here are a few still visible along the trail.IMG_2415Once at Echo Mountain the site of a hotel from 1894 we had a quick lunch and took a few photos of the remains.   Here is the before and after.

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Four of us decided to head up to Inspiration point.  It was another 2 1/2 miles up in 1,100 ft elevation gain.  The trail was small and scary in a few places but it’s something I need to do as I can imagine Mt. Whitney may be much like this times 10. So I am building up my “Move Closer, Stay Longer” (book by Stephanie Burns) of heights and small ledges. Agh.  My stomach does somersaults just thinking about it. I read this book while riding horses and it applies to my fear of heights.

We made it to the top in good time as we kept a steady pace.  What beautiful views from the top and lots of people and bikers.IMG_2432 IMG_2435

Above: A view of Mount Wilson in the distance. A must do before Mt. Whitney.IMG_2437

As I walked back down the hill I realized I will have to double the time I spent today and also the number of miles.  I was pretty tired by the time I returned to my car.

One of the great things about hiking with the meetup groups is that you get to meet great people and share ideas about eating better and what to do about sore muscles, etc.  Today Lynda shared that mineral salts in bath water will help relax and soothe muscles so  I wake up refreshed the next day. Oh and eat protein at the end of your hike.  No sore muscles today. Terry will be sending me a recipe on how to make my own granola bars. He gave us a taste, nice flavor and no preservatives.

One of my challenges for Mt. Whitney is what to pack for food for a 14-16 hour hike.  It has to be healthy, nutritious and lightweight.

So I am headed in the right direction.  Need to stay positive as my inside voice is telling me maybe I can’t do this.