That was bouncing around my head when we approached Fuller ridge at 4pm, with 5 miles still before camp. Then “Onyong!” which is the actual name of a colleague but also super fun to say loudly from the bushes when your partner is having a potty.
At that point I had no energy left and was a bit lightheaded from an inner ear thing and dehydration +/- the effects of altitude (its only 10,834′ you babyman – yeah I get it. Living at sea level in almost arctic Canada and being generally slothlike for the preceeding year probably deconditions one enough to feel something at higher than 8000′) not a great combo after the fear mongers tell you that you need an ice axe to traverse the thing (which inconveniently I had sent forward because the bros at the Idylwild gear shop down played the risks).
We had started the day already late at 6:30am with a 5 mile / 1100 foot ascent out of Idylwild to the trailhead and apologized after declining the nice man who offered us a ride. Who does that shit? Another 7.5 miles and 4400 feet in elevation on a sometimes trail, sometimes unprotected pitch of slippery corn snow in places 1.5 meters deep and covered in the crisscrossing deluge of many tourists who took a tram up from Palm springs on the other side of the mountain to hike the last mile or so – saw us to the summit of Mt. San Jacinto by 1pm. We wore MicroSpikes and they are surprisingly pretty handy. Actual crampons would make the already tenuous traction between my foot and the inside of the innapropriate tennis shoe I was wearing less reassuring and likely more cumbersome and awkward. In any case they were probably placebo – but thats still 20% at worst.
We spent a few minutes at the summit and left rather quickly as one of the afformentioned tourists was loudly making a meal out of her achievement and flung herself dramatically over the pinnacle for long enough to read a littany of her considerable mountaineering (tram riding) experience to everyone within earshot. Less(?) annoyingly a local from Idylwild ran by wearing shorts and sandals citing that he summited every morning… which seemed… improbable at 1pm but I gave him a buy as his company was preferable to the the lady spreading out her memoirs on the peak.
San Jacinto Peak and our summer cottage.
We made the next 3 miles down to Fuller Ridge without too much difficulty – though there were several sections of icy slope that had no protection and a fall would have meant several hundred feet of ice rash and/or shrubbery damage. Being deliberate and slow is your best friend here. By the time we hit the ridge – which had been described by the afforementioned naysayers as “trecherous”, our feet were numbed by an icy river crossing with a sketchy approach across an ice bridge (which we learned later collapsed as a hiker named Deathgrip was crossing). The 5 miles to camp was a bit onerous, and we plied a very carfeul delerious concentration to the task – making it in to camp by 6pm.
The ridge was much kinder than had been expected, however our pace had slowed considerably. By that time – the onerousness of the climb then descent had eaten holes in the flabby sinew of my pins (thats legs for a Townie), and made phyllo of the soft dough on my feet.
Camp was suuuuper handy with about 15 other hikers and a small pit fire (which was a great help to spread our foot odour). When discussing the day – it was apparent that everyone else knew better than to kill themselves in the same way and all but one (our buddy Martyn who is a 75% high contrast facsimile of Robert Redford) had taken different and shorter routes (most accepted a ride from that nice man with no appologies).
Settling to bed meant agreeing to wake the next morning to a 17 mile, 6700 foot descent – so I stayed awake as long as I could keep my eyes open. Which was about 15 minutes.