Saturday, September 10, 2011

The day before "The Challenge"

We all drove down to southern California late Tuesday afternoon.  Three cars, seven people.  We arrived at the campground at Mt. Baldy  just after midnight. 

Needless to say, the night was uneventful.

I was able to sleep until 8:00 Wednesday morning.  Everybody got out their little backpacking stoves and started heating up water.  All I really cared about was my first cup of coffee.  I poured my instant coffee packets into my cup and waited for my water to boil.  Aaaah, boiling water to my rescue.  Someone brought a camp stove also and the others were making eggs, potatoes and bacon.  I brought a freeze-dried meal so once again waited moments for some boiling water.  I was slightly disappointed in this meal so I ended up eating some fruit and a few mini powdered donuts.  I was good to go.

I went ahead and changed into some light clothes and my trail running shoes.  Everyone looked at me like I was crazy and asked what I was doing.  I was dying to check out the trails and see what Mt. Baldy had to offer.  So off I went.

I started my hike at +6,000 feet and I tell ya, I could feel it as soon as I started moving.  It was warm too, already about 80 degrees.

I walked up the fire road for close to 2.5 hours.  This is some of what I saw.

I had no idea the route for the challenge didn't stay on the fire road.  In my mind I was thinking this was going to be a piece of cake tomorrow morning - 5.5 miles up and 5.5 mile down.  You will soon find out how wrong I was!

On the way down, probably dropping 1,000 vertical feet per hour, the temperature was rising again.  There was a waterfall off the beaten path but I found a little trail that took me over to it and what a treat that was.  I stood at the bottom of the fall and let the water splash my legs.  It was just beautiful.

I got back to the campsite early afternoon and we decided to drive to Rancho Cucamonga to visit the REI store there.  It was close to 100 degrees by this time and I knew the air conditioning would feel amazing.  After visiting REI, a small group of us went to the Bass Pro Shop (for some more air conditioning time).  By the time we were done walking around there, it was time to head back to the lodge for our spaghetti dinner and registration. 

Jansport puts this event together for employees of the outdoor industry to participate in.  FREE OF CHARGE to us.  They want you to raise funds for Big City Mountaineers but there is no requirement to do so.  They have donations from vendors for a silent auction which brings in money as well.  I will explain more about that when I recap the actual event and awards ceremony.  The dinner was very good and there was plenty of food to fill up on.  After dinner they had a slide presentation of last year's event and filled us in on what to expect.  By 7:30, we were ready to drive back to camp and get our bags ready for the next day.  I was in my sleeping bag by 9:30 and anxious for my 4:00 a.m. wake up call Thursday morning.

My next post will be all about the event itself and contain some beautiful pictures of the very long day.

Until later.............


Lisa said...

I didn't realize that you started at ~6000 ft. That's even higher than the altitude where I live (~5500) and you aren't acclimated to it like I am. Already sounds tough!

Glenn Jones said...

You know - they run a race here every year... (2008) and (2010)