Fuimos a Fajardo …

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Today, Thursday January 14 we headed to Fajardo very early (6:30 am) to beat the traffic heading to San Juan for their work day. We made great time and boarded the Spread Eagle Catamaran II where we enjoyed a great day cruising the Caribbean.

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The water was a beautiful turquoise.  Something we don’t see in Southern Cali.  We all swam off the small island of Icacos about 11 nautical miles off the coast of Puerto Rico. My sister Diana and I enjoyed snorkeling near the beach (an opportunity for me to spend quality time with my lil sista) and then went out to the deeper waters near a reef.  We were treated to a nice lunch after swimming which included sandwiches, fresh fruit and drinks.  It was a full day and the crew took really great care of us. Patty planned this amazing day and she did not disappoint.

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On the way home we stopped in Luquillo for souvenirs and local street food and then headed back to the beach house to relax for the evening.

On a side note: My Mom never never mastered swimming. She did amazing today. She was out there with us in the water, up and down the stairs enjoying herself. Great memories we will have for a lifetime.

Puerto Rico … Me Encanta

After a long flight we arrived in Puerto Rico on Wednesday. We made our way to pick up our car and I was chosen to be the chauffeur. We arrived in Dorado to our beautiful beach house.

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After settling in, we headed over to the Katrina Restaurant in Dorado for a delicious Lobster dinner (creole style or with garlic butter), with Mofongo (a local favorite), rice and beans. The Creole sauce was amazing. Very typical of the flavors of the island. Of course, we celebrated our first meal with Piña Coladas, Rum Punch and Mojitos.

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Mt. Whitney Hike – “Trust Your Inside Voice”

Up at 2:30 am to get ready for our Whitney hike. Our packs are pretty much packed and ready to go.  All we had to add was our sandwiches.  We went over and over how much food and what kind of food we should take. Here is what my breakfast and lunch looked like. A banana for the potassium, P B & J sandwich, Bologna and cheese on a bagel, a couple of granola bars and a couple of other items.  I hoped it would be enough.

IMG_3205We were to Whitney Portal and hiking by 4:02 am in the dark with headlamps on.  I was pretty excited and a little quiet as I was truthfully a little nervous about how the day would unfold.  Our first milestone was Lone Pine Lake which is about 2.8 miles.  I was moving up the trail pretty quickly the first mile is always the hardest for me.  As it takes me that time to get used to the elevation again and find a rhythm.  My heart rate was up and my breathing a bit labored.  I am not sure if it was from the hiking or the excitement of finally hiking Mt. Whitney.  I stopped a few times to catch my breath and let my heart rate settle.  I noticed my hands were starting to tingle.  This is very unusual for me as that has never happened to me on any hike.  The voices in my head were starting. I continued to have trouble catching my breath.  I don’t know if I was going to fast or what exactly was happening. We made it to the lake.

The sun is starting to come up

The sun is starting to come up

We caught up to Bill and his son Justin as they waited at a water crossing which is the “MO” for Marilyn and Bill whenever they are hiking and they get separated.  The sun was coming up so we took off our lamps.

We continue up the mountain and stop to get water at a stream shortly after the lake.  My hands are still tingling and it seemed to me a little more. At this point, I am standing there thinking if it is wise for me to continue. I fill up a water bottle to add to my camel bag that will be filtered and continue thinking.  I make the decision that I will not continue.  This was an extremely difficult decision as I trained quite a bit for this big day. I am not sure if my nerves got the better of me or if because of my breathing I may have been on my way to a slight case of hyperventilation.  Some of the thoughts that ran through my mind.

  • The nice ranger at the Visitor Center who helped us with our permits told us to hydrate often, eat often and most importantly don’t let your ego get in the way of making the choice not to continue if you are not feeling well.
  • I read a sign somewhere on Friday that said “Don’t expect to get rescued”
  • Trust your gut “Your Inside Voice”

    My view near the creek where I turned around

    My view near the creek where I turned around

I have learned over the years and especially riding horses that if something doesn’t feel right get off your horse.  Or if you feel like something isn’t right, don’t do it.  So with my hands tingling as they have never before on a hike I decided to stop right there and go back down the hill. As I headed down the hill all kinds of emotions went through my mind about how I was not able to finish this epic hike. It took an hour before the tingling stopped in my hands.  I stopped at Lone Pine Lake and ate half a sandwich and then continued back down the hill.  I told Bill and Marilyn that I would wait for them at the trailhead.

As I waited I met a young girl that had hiked the entire John Muir Trail on her own.  She had some great stories.  I hung out all day and talked to a lot of great adventurers and offered congratulations to the hikers and backpackers coming down the mountain from their various journeys.

All this said,  I just want to say that sometimes we can train, practice or work on something and things just don’t go the way that we expect them to.  We have to be okay with the outcome whatever it may be whether we accomplish the goal or we don’t quite get there. My friend Betty said it best “A journey is full of ups and downs and detours”.  I am happy to have tried to hike Mt. Whitney and I had great hikes in the process of my training and I met great people along the way.  I have had encouragement and prayers from my great family and friends.  Thank you to all.

Don’t be afraid to follow your dreams.  It’s about the journey.

 

Long Lake via South Lake

Day 3 and 4

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Thursday we headed over to South Lake to hike up to Long Lake for another 6 miles and more acclimating over 10,500 ft. The hike was a little easier and a little cooler. The trails in the Sierras are well marked and easy to follow. Lots of backpackers on their way up to enjoy some overnight camping out in the wilderness.

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Stunning views everywhere. So glad to be able to see them in person.  No bears or deer to be seen.

Friday morning we packed up to get back to Lone Pine to get our permits for Whitney.

  • Permits in hand – check
  • Extra permit requested and received – check
  • Weather forecasted to be perfect – check

The day was turning out better than expected, so we drove up to the Whitney Portal and the trailhead to again get acclimated to the elevation. There was lots of activity with hikers coming down from their Mt. Whitney hike and backpackers at the end of their John Muir Trail from Yosemite after 200 + miles.  They had enjoyed a better than expected time on the trail with more amazing views than I had seen over the last three days.

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We decided to have our famous burger and fries on Friday, as we did not know if we would be back in time to have it on Saturday. . This burger is a celebratory burger after your Mt Whitney hike.  My half was delicious.

We were now ready for our big day as everything was in place.  Or so I thought….

Blue Lake via Lake Sabrina

Enjoying the waterfall in the distance

Enjoying the waterfall in the distance

Day 2 After a somewhat restful sleep (turns out the creek was more than white noise, it was pretty loud). We had pancakes, eggs and bacon for breakfast and then packed lunch for our hike to Blue Lake. A nice 6 mile hike, starting elevation 9,128 at Sabrina Lake and elevation at Blue Lake 10,380.

image The trail was well maintained and we saw a mule pack and a family with a 8 month old. Doesn’t the baby look happy. She was all smiles.  You can have your clothes, tent and food hauled into the wilderness and either walk in or hike in.   imageWe ran into a meetup group from Orange County and one of the girls was nice enough to take our photo by Blue Lake. 

Brookie

Brookie

Bill caught a nice fish while we ate lunch. Our downhill was I eventful but a little warm.

Showers at the local lodge, dinner and then bed.

 

Acclimating to the Elevation

Tuesday I left Hesperia for Bishop Drainage to camp for 3 days to somewhat acclimate to the elevation for my climb to Mt. Whitney on Saturday. We stayed at Big Trees campground under the shade of a few pine trees with a creek running nearby.

My comfy tent and the view from inside my tent.

My comfy tent and the view from inside my tent.

I setup my tent and unloaded by car into a bear proof container. I watched Marilyn and Bill fish a bit and enjoyed the great outdoors. Marilyn and I took a drive to nearby Lake Sabrina. What is left of it. More on that later.

Lake Sabrina

Lake Sabrina

Later we had dinner in their RV (not roughing it too much). Off to bed to the sound of water running over rocks in the nearby creek on the other side of the trees shown above from my tent. Back to nature.

Hiking Duck Pass Trail – Back on Track

Saturday morning I hit the trail early as we were heading back home before 11 am. My friend Marilyn from Hesperia had suggested this trail near Lake Mary. Gary was not up for hiking two days in a row so I headed out on my own. I was a little nervous as I had heard there were bears in the area but I went anyway. I had the opportunity to meet the The Bear Whisperer the day before so I felt a little less nervous.

IMG_3051The morning was cool and quiet. I headed up the less traveled trail at a starting elevation of 9,120 ft.. The first half hour is always the toughest because of the elevation.  The view of this pond was my first reward after a little over a mile.IMG_3034

I continue walking and taking my time.  I like to use my Map My Fitness app on my phone to keep track of my progress.  The first mile was about 1/2 hour.  It’s nice to be walking at my own speed and taking the quick breaks that I need to catch my breath and let my heart rate settle a bit. My next reward is Arrowhead Lake which is just up the trail a bit. I have seen only a fisherman on his way back to the trailhead.IMG_3036

Next is Skelton Lake and it is so worth the hike to see such a beautiful lake.  I wish I had someone to share it with. The trail is leveling out a bit so my time is improving and I have adjusted to the elevation.  I am now at an elevation of 9,915 ft. Below is a view of a small creek I had to cross. Such a beautiful hike so far.IMG_3039I am making good time and end up at Barney Lake about 8:10 am. I am feeling really good and elevation is not bothering me at all.  I figured this was a great place to turn around.  I took a quick break and some pictures. The trip down went really well.  I felt so good I even jogged a bit.  I made it back to the trailhead in 2 hours and 20 minutes with another 6.3 miles under my hiking shoes.  Not too bad.

            Barney Lake

Barney Lake – 10 203 ft

There is so much time to think when you are out in the wilderness alone.  Family, life, work, hiking Mt. Whitney, etc.  This hike is just what I needed to get back on track for my hike to Mt. Whitney. I have been mentally struggling with this hike for some time.  I now feel ready to accomplish this goal I have set for myself.  I just have to remember to hike my hike. Take the time it takes.

Practice does not make perfect. Only perfect practice makes perfect.Vince Lombardi

Hiking with Gary

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I had an opportunity to be in Mammoth Lakes this weekend for a short trip. Friday I set my alarm so I could go for a short walk before my day started. The weather was really nice and a nice change from the heatwave in Hesperia. I took a nice 5 mile walk up and down Lake Mary Rd. It was all up hill and scenery was just amazing.  I made great time and the elevation didn’t seem to bother me.

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Late in the afternoon we took a tram to Devil’s Postpile as Gary had never been to Mammoth and I wanted share this beautiful area with him.  We hiked 1/2 mile to the amazing monument.  If you have never been, it’s an interesting rock formation that continues to change over the years. We then made our way another 2.5 miles across the valley to Rainbow Falls.  Gary led the way the entire hike.  We have only hiked together 3 times, but you would think he does it all the time.  He makes it look so easy.  The falls were beautiful.IMG_3023

This area suffered a major fire in 1992.  You can still see the burn area recovering slowly. There are sections of the forest where the trees are slowly growing back.IMG_3007

Gary is out of his element but still enjoying the views.  It was nice to share my love of the outdoors with him.

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A Break From Hiking

imageMy weekend started with a visit to see Anthony, Sol and Juliet. We went to have lunch near the Padres Stadium before Sol and Anthony went off to work.  I spent all afternoon with Juliet. Such is the wonderful life of a grandma.

Friday evening I drive to visit my cousin Nilda in San Clemente for the rest of the weekend. Early Saturday morning we took a nice 5 mile walk on the beach. What a difference in elevation walking at sea level in 70 degree weather. We even had a light rain while having breakfast near the beach.

imageWe headed over San Juan Capistrano to  see the town since I had never been there. We ended up in a butterfly sanctuary followed by a movie “The Chef” which was great, if you’re a foodie it’s a must see. Funny and for the entire family.  A little bit of everything for everyone including some latin music and yummy food scenes.image

Next is an early dinner at one of Nilda’s favorite Mexican hole in the wall places in SJC. Authentic Mexican food, I had taquitos and Mexican bread to go for tomorrow’s breakfast.  Nilda had tacos. The portions are huge. imageAfter dinner we are off to a beautiful mass at the Mission Basilica. A beautiful church in SJC.  The sermon was amazing, about wheat and weeds.  What a great day we had and that was just Saturday. The day was full of good times with Nilda.  She is such a pleasure to be around.

Have The Day You Have

Saturday, June 7, 2014 I hiked the South Fork Trail in the San Gorgonio Wilderness area in the San Bernardino Mountains. The destination was Mt. Charlton 14-15 miles elevation 10,806′ & Little Charlton 10,696, elevation gain almost 4,000 ft.  I had all intentions of getting to the top as I had just completed the Mt. Baldy hike which was 4,000 elevation gain in a shorter distance.

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The Meetup Group

We started at 8:30 and the day was predicted to be warm. This meetup group has always been pretty hardcore but I continue to hike with them as I am training for the hike of a lifetime.  As usual we start out at a good pace with little or no breaks.

Side Note: I finally met a fellow Puerto Rican (aka Nuyorican=New York Puerto Rican) on the trail today.  We exchanged some espanol. He was hiking with a Persian Cuban, another interesting combo.  Nice guys, lots of energy.

Left to right-Mo the Persian Cuban, Bill the Nuyorican and Rod the leader of the group.

Left to right-Mo the Persian Cuban, Bill the Nuyorican and Rod the leader of the group.

A few of us stop to take some much-needed but very short breaks to catch our breath, let the heart rate settle a bit and also get a bite to eat.  By the time I reached 5.5 miles I decide I just can’t keep the pace. So I let the others know I will not be continuing.  I am trying to be reasonable and listen to my body.  We are about 2 miles from the top but the day continues to warm up and I don’t want this to be a bad experience.  This area is probably one of the prettiest I have seen and at the pace we are going it was hard to enjoy the sights, sounds and smells of the forest.

Picture by one of the other hikers.

Picture by one of the other hikers.

I had a little lunch and headed back down the hill.  I enjoyed the solitude (flashbacks of the Camino) and finally the sights and sounds of the forest.  I ran into Ranger Ted who had a young man (ranger in training) with him.  He asked for my hiking permit and I had to explain to him that in my excitement I left it in the car. He was very cool about it.  I also had an opportunity to ask about the best route to take for our upcoming backpacking trip. He was very informative and explained about how to handle a cougar encounter.   He also mentioned that they have not seen bears in this area for a very long time. I still had about 2 1/2 mile back to the car and so I stopped to visit with a couple of forest volunteers who hand out water as needed as there is not much running water on the trail. They also shared lots of information about the flora and fauna.

Forest Volunteers

                        Forest Volunteers

I spent a little time learning about the flowers, pine trees and pine cones. Here are some pics of the flowers I saw yesterday.

Orchids on the top left, Iris in the Center and Snow Plant on the top right

Orchids on the top left, Iris in the Center and  Snow Plant on the top right

It was interesting to find out that they have Orchids growing in the wild,  called Spotted Coral Root.  The pretty red one is a Snow Plant.  The beautiful purple one is the Hartweg’s Iris.  I could not find the name of the gorgeous pink flower.  After a my short lesson from the ladies I headed back to the car.

It was a great day and although I didn’t get to the top I had the day I was meant to have. I am planning to do this hike again with my friend Marilyn that hikes at my pace and we plan to make it to a summit.