Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Hey Dad - Can We Go for a Hike?

Oh my, oh my. Music to my ears. For a while now my daughter has been voicing some interest in hiking. So, when she asked if we could go, I jumped all over the opportunity. I shoved her in the car on Saturday and sped off to REI to get her some hiking boots (Note: It wasn't really *that* spur of the moment - but by the same token I wasn't going to look a gift horse in the mouth.)

My training plan called for 8 miles on Sunday. The thought of more miles on the San Diego Creek trail or around the Back Bay wasn't exactly appealing. So - why not mix it up a little? And my daughter gave me all the excuse I needed. We were up early and out the door at 6AM to drive over to Palm Springs for a little jaunt up in the hills.

Now, when most think about Palm Springs, they think about heat and desert. Palm Springs is truly one of Southern California's desert resort gems. But, just a short distance from the desert heat is an alpine wonderland. That wonderland is the Mt. San Jacinto State Park, and it is easily accessed by the Palm Springs Aerial Tramway - whisking riders from Valley Station at 2,643 feet elevation up to Desert View Station at 8,510 feet elevation is just about 7 minutes. The gem of the Park is its namesake - Mt. San Jacinto at 10,834 feet elevation. By riding the tram up the mountain, one can cut the walk to an 11 mile round trip with about 2,300 foot elevation gain.

The day was absolutely beautiful. We were on the second tram up the mountain at 8:30. Temperatures were in the mid 60's, skies were clear, and the vistas breathtaking. We made our way through the heavily forested slopes the first two miles to Round Valley.

This is where one of the rarities in Southern California exists - a year round spring with cool refreshing water.

We then continued on another mile and a half to the spectacular views to the East at Wellman's Divide, where, even though it was a hazy day, we could clearly see the Salton Sea in the distance.

From here, we climbed another 1,000 vertical feet over two more miles to the summit hut.

From there, it was a scramble up the last 100 feet to the summit. The hazy day still allowed magnificent views.

There is a 270 degree view from the top. We were able to take in everything from the Salton Sea to the Southeast to the highest point in Southern California - Mt. San Gorgonio (11,499 feet).

We dropped back to the comfort of the summit hut and enjoyed our PBJ sandwiches and snacks before starting our way back down the hill. In 2 hours we were back at the spring in Round Valley, where I broke out the water purifier and refilled a couple of nalgene bottles.

From there it was two more downhill miles back to the tram station, where out last hurdle remained - a 100 foot hike back up to Desert View station for the ride back down.

And speaking of a ride! We started at Desert View station in beautiful 72 degree weather. By the time we got back down to the Valley Station 6,000 feet below, we gained 26 degrees! That's right! 98 degrees at 5PM! Check out the video and enjoy the ride (complete with the music that plays in the Gondola during the ride)!

That put the cap on a great week. The hike was enough of a workout at a high enough elevation that I was able to put in 11 miles at an average heart rate of 65% of max. Totals mileage for the week - 46! Not bad for coming back from a cold! Not to mention some quality time with my dear daughter!


  1. all i can say is that through your video is the only way I could view something like that, for two reasons. One, I'm so far away geographically. And two, I'm so afraid of heights, i would have thrown up on that ride! or been looking at my feet the entire time, even if you could get me on it, which would have been only by dragging me, and drugged! (i am that afraid of heights.)

    thank you for sharing all of this!

    And yes, 46 miles after being sick is awesome!

  2. What great daddy/daughter time. Definitely qualifies as a good workout.

  3. Nice hiking pictures, sounds like you had some good bonding time too! Did you see that I taped my electrolyte pills to my Hammer gels? It was awesome...except that I should have had two more gels and three pills on each one. Oh well, next time!

  4. How cool that she wanted to do that!!! I can't do heights though!

  5. Fun pix. Thanks for sharing. My wife has done that hike in High School and has talked about us doing it together.

  6. That is so AWESOME! My daughter humored me by doing some hikes over the summer. It's always a good time when the kids engage in something we love so much.
    And, you went to REI, making sure I can keep my job. I hope someone nice helped you pick her shoes. That's one of the departmets I work in. ;)

  7. Glenn that is awesome! So glad you got some quality time with your daughter.

    Tomorrow I am working the Third Eye Blind concert. I am sure you know their songs. They were really popular in the 90's.

  8. a sweet trip! i'll let those 11 miles count since you were sick and you are tapering and i'm sure it was still quite the workout. ;)

  9. Awww, I love the fact that you got some QT with your daughter. How awesome is that? It looks like it was such a beautiful hike. Hopefully, one day, I can make it down there to see it in person. Now, if I can only convince the husband.

  10. I love when opportunities like that happen!

  11. what an awesome way to spend time with your daughter!! Great pics! I've often wanted to do those hikes!

    And yes I think you should try trail races-I think you'd love them!! They are very challenging!!

  12. Since you mentioned never getting over to Hollywood these days, I should mention I've never been in Palm Springs in all these years. Thanks for the reminder that there's more there than golfing and beautiful people by the pool.

  13. The Comeback Kid. I like it. :) Looks like a great way to have some father daughter bonding.

  14. Loved reading this post! But boy am I jealous. I so miss hiking- it's been twenty years since I went hiking back in my college days in Plattsburgh and Binghamton NY. Such great fun! Loved the pictures! Glad you got to spend some wonderful quality time with your daughter Glenn!