I finally checked off one of my peaks in the Six Pack of Peaks Challenge.
I thought Mt. Wilson would be a good peak to start off with. I thought it would be one of the easier climbs since the elevation is only 5,710. I thought it would be a 14 mile hike.
I was wrong on all of those assumptions.
Mt. Wilson was a beast of a peak. The last few miles were incredibly steep with no let up. We climbed and climbed, barely speaking and often stopping to try to catch our breath. I like to think of myself as someone who is fairly good hiking shape, but Mt. Wilson was incredibly humbling.
We started off our hike from Chantry Flats and from varying accounts I have read, this should make the entire trip either 13.5-14.0 miles. The sign where we started indicated 7 miles, so we were mentally prepared for a 14 mile trip.
The trail started off relatively flat. I hiked with my husband and friend Emily, who are both signed up for the challenge and we met up with more friends who are also going to tackle to six peaks. It made for a fun, energetic start to the hike. It also helps to hike with an amazing photographer. All photos below are courtesy of my friend Ulices of Del Toro Photo.
The first few miles flew by. We talked, laughed and enjoyed the lush scenery. Soon enough though, we hit the steep incline. We begin to taper off into smaller groups and it got quieter. Everyone was having their own internal struggles.
In those last 2 miles up to the top, we had to stop for frequent breaks. The trail was gaining elevation quickly and it was hard to maintain a steady pace.
Finally we made it to the top! This was an interesting experience and unlike any peak I have encountered. At the top of mountain, there is an observatory that you can actually drive to. It was surreal to reach the top of the mountain and encounter paved roads, bathrooms and a snack bar. It was a little jarring to see people at the top who had driven there and were eating chili dogs.
We spent some time exploring the observatory and taking in the views. It was windy though and we wanted to get down before it got too cold.
The hike down was easier because at least we weren’t climbing. We were able to talk which helped pass the time, but the steep trail made climbing down harder on my knees and shins.
We were pretty tired and hangry by the time I saw 14 miles come and go on my Fitbit. By the time we ended our hike, my Fitbit said I had done 17.23 miles and my husband’s said 18 miles!!!
Now, we did a fair amount of walking at the top of the peak exploring the observatory and looking for a restroom, but I estimated it to be around 1 mile of extra walking, definitely not 3 extra! I don’t know how we ended up for 3-4 extra miles. I am not sure how accurate the Chantry Flats sign is that told us we had 7 miles to the peak, but be forewarned, it is much more than that.
This is the face of not being mentally prepared for those extra miles:
And this is one of my favorite pictures ever of my friend Emily. Emily is one of the most positive people I know. She rarely speaks negatively about anyone else and can find the bright side of any situation. This is the least positive I have ever seen Emily, she was tired and as bewildered as the rest of us that the last part of the trail was a steep climb back to the trailhead.
My other favorite part of this picture is the little girl behind Emily. The whole way up the hill she was muttering “I’m gonna die, I’m gonna die” just audibly as her parents tried to motivate her to keep going. I knew exactly how she felt.
Even though we encountered unexpected miles, we enjoyed the hike, took in the scenery and had fun. It is going to help that we are doing these peaks together and although apart of me feels overwhelmed by the thought of doing this 5 more times this year (with increasing difficulty!), I know we will slowly get this accomplished.
Up next…Cucamonga Peak.