Sleeping On The Backs Of Giants
Sleeping on a mountain. Sounds like fun right? Beautiful views, epic sunrise and just the sheer awesomeness of sleeping on a mountain. Again I reiterate ‘sounds good’, kind of like going out for a couple drinks on a Wednesday when you have a super early start ‘sounds good’. In other words it’s not. Now all of this of course is a matter of perspective, in other words sleeping on a mountain is awesome if you have the appropriate mountaineering equipment, I unfortunately did not.
A couple of weeks and a few hundred miles back, when leaving an awesome little town called Idyllwild, the decision was made to take a detour to climb the highest mountain in California, Mt San Jacinto. At a staggering 10,388ft (3302m), surrounded by desert, this thing is a beast.
Before setting out from town, the call was made, “I’m 100% sleeping on top of that thing”, guess who that genius was. So we climbed out of Idyllwild wild via the ‘fire closure alternate route’. Let’s make something clear, alternate route is the last thing hikers want to hear, it usually means miles of road walking. In this case it was switchbacks up a mountain, but the whole way up was like a mini Sierra Nevada, a welcome change to see pine trees instead of desert sand.
Anyway rambling aside, walking up a mountain, “we should summit for sunrise, it’s a once in a lifetime opportunity”, classic. So we drag ourselves up to an amazing spot on the saddle of the mountain, 20 minutes from the summit, the most incredible camp spot we had seen yet. The decision was made to ‘Cowboy Camp’, for the first time, which basically means sleeping on the ground, no tent (which now weeks on, is all I do). We went to sleep, happy with our life choices at this point. And now the fun begins.
Wind, not the ‘oh this is bothersome’, kind of wind. More like ‘it’s 12am and I’m going to get blown of off a f**king mountain’ wind. So 100mph, with gusts above that. All night. We had set alarms for 3am so we could finish the climb before sunrise, also because, it takes a while to move at 3am. Not the case. I have never seen 3 grown men move so fast in my life, let alone at 3am. I think we may have had 2 hours of sleep between us, and moving fast, stuffing sleeping gear in packs before it blew away, and layering up with everything we owned, only took 10 minutes. I neglected to mention basically the saddle was a 10,388ft high wind tunnel, so also cold
After our rushed pack. We headed on up to the summit. We were early, like sit in the cold and dark for almost 2 hours early. No one spoke. But eventually we were rewarded with a pretty amazing sunrise on the highest point in California. The hiking that day was rough, 20miles (32km) and a descent of over 7000ft (2300m) something your knees don’t forget.
I would do it all again tomorrow. Something about utter chaos entertains me.