Two weeks from now, I’ll be hiking the John Muir Trail. The reality of it is all starting to hit me, this is a dream that started with planning back in January. It’s a bit surreal to have it so close. As much as I’ve planned and prepared, I still feel like there is a ton of work to do. One thing I’m feeling very confident about is my physical training. So far, I’ve logged 435 miles of training with 145,595 feet of elevation gained. The JMT is about 225 miles with 44,000 feet of gain, so it won’t be anywhere near as much climbing as I do here in my home mountains. The ankle injury I suffered back in April has slowed me down a bit, but it won’t be enough to stop me from enjoying the High Sierra this summer.
I started increasing my mileage last week by getting extra miles in during the weekday mornings. It’s been really nice to get out with my dog, Isla, and catch each sunrise before work. This past week, I was able to get a solid 40 miles in, and I’m starting to feel my “walking legs” start to stabilize beneath me. This is something I always do before a long trek. Many people only train on the weekend, and then when it comes time to walk everyday, their legs go through a slight adjustment period. I like to get that out of the way beforehand.
After hiking to the summit of Cucamonga Peak on Saturday, I decided to do another speed hike. For Sunday, I hiked to the summit of Mt. Baldy. I took the Ski Hut Trail route for minimal distance, but maximum steepness. I made it to the summit in a personal best time of 1:55. My best time before that was 1:58 earlier this year, so it’s good to know I’m in better shape than I was then, if only marginally.
It was the perfect day for hiking, as the usually hot and dry summer climate had been replaced by humidity and clouds. It was still very warm, but there was almost no exposure, and virtually no wind at the summit. It’s a shame we don’t get more summer days like this in Southern California.
I took a short break at the summit and snapped a few pictures before making my way back down. The entire time on my ascent, I was convinced I’d hear a crack of thunder or see a flash of lightning based on the composition of the sky. Surprisingly, the thunder storms never came. I was a bit disappointed in a way, as I’d really like to get some wet weather training in to prepare for the afternoon thunderstorms of the High Sierra. We never get any rain here, and I wasn’t mentally prepared for the 7 days of wet weather last year on the Tour du Mont Blanc. I’ll just have to hope for warm and sunny weather on this summer trek!