Wow, what an incredible day yesterday!
A view out the backside of the Rincon Mountains
I was supposed to meet my friend Jon at 7 am for a hike up Rincon Peak, the second highest peak in the Rincon Mountains (where I have not done much hiking/running), a hike of 16.2 miles and over 4200 vertical feet of elevation change. I showed up at his house and he hadn't even gotten out of bed yet. Once he woke up, I was hungry, so he made a scrambled egg breakfast, then he had to pack, then I realized my camelback was leaking horrendously, then we finally packed up his old Saab and headed out of town.
38 miles later, we found the 16 mile long dirt road to the trailhead. Only one spot was a little worrisome - a pond in the middle of the road. After testing it to see how deep it was, we headed through. The car only bottomed out once, over a rock. It was fun to watch the peak as we got closer and closer.
Jon testing the water
Finally, at 11:27 a.m. (late start!!!), we headed up into the mountains.
A gorgeous seed pod we found along the route
The views were gorgeous, the trail was rocky but awesome. Up, up, up we climbed. From grasslands to oaks to junipers to pines and more. The terrain kept changing, the views got more and more spectacular, and I got more and more tired. We made it to Happy Valley Saddle, and checked the time. We were pretty sure we'd end in the dark, but decided to keep going to the peak. We were there; we had to bag the peak! Along the way, we found a working headlamp that someone had left behind. The trail register at the beginning had shown that no one was climbing the mountain today, so we decided "finders keepers". I had not brought my head lamp for the trip, so we decided it was an omen - we had to keep going, since now we both had head lamps to finish with!
I loved this forest
The trail got steeper and steeper. We laughed at how the trail was turning into a New England trail - straight up the mountain! It was getting colder and colder. I stopped to put on a long-sleeve shirt, and Jon kept my pack for the last stretch (he claimed it kept him warmer; who am I to complain!). We scrambled up over the rocks and finally summitted, 3 hours and 49 minutes after we started.
The cairn on the top of the peak
We hung out on top for about 45 minutes, taking tons of pictures, making art with rocks, eating and getting really really cold. Finally, we decided we needed to head down.
I made it!
Jon climbing along a fun wall on the peak
Me trying to keep warm out of the wind
My knee had been hurting since the Thanksgiving race (and after the race, when I was in the shower and somehow tweaked it), and I wore my ITB strap on the way up. It didn't seem to help much. We headed down the steep stuff, and my knee started hurting pretty badly. I had to go pretty slow, which bummed me out. I still thought we could beat the dark! But not with how my knee was hurting.
So, down, down, down we went. Flatter or more gradual inclines were much faster and felt better on my knee. I even got a little bit of running in. Jon's legs were just about shot as we reached the saddle and began the 4.4 mile descent to the car. Somewhere in this section of a granite garden, I landed wrong on my knee, and incredible pain just shot through my leg. I had to stop. I was almost in tears, but told myself, "I will not cry!" I kept going gingerly, and mostly did okay. The flatter it got, the better, but all I had to do was land off just a little, and the intense pain would come back. I've had knee issues for awhile, and I'm used to dull pain, but this was different - this was intense and stopped me in my tracks. I'm a little worried about it, so I'm not running at all this week.
Sure enough, dark descended before we reached the car, so the head lamps came in handy. Much to Jon's chagrin, we did not run into any bears or mountain lions (although we did see coatimundi, and I almost stepped on a tarantula).
Jon playing with the tarantula
It was a beautiful, peaceful night, and I really enjoyed hiking along the flat creek bottom with the stars overhead and crickets chirping. It was rejuvenating (especially since my knee wasn't hurting so much). 3 hours after we left the peak, we were back at the car. The drive out was much quicker, and we picked up pizza for dinner (mmm, nothing like a good pizza following a wicked hike!). What a great fall day!
Me at the summit, woo hoo!
update: drum roll please....this is my 200th post!