5,700 ft. elevation
After our warm up at Sturtevant Falls last week, Adventure Squad woke up with tremendous enthusiasm to start a new day filled with undiscovered adventure. Spirits were high and energy was abundant as we set out to conquer Mt. Wilson, the first of six mountain peaks in Southern California of The Six Peaks Challenge:
- Mt. Wilson- 16 miles
- Cucamonga Peak- 11.6 miles
- Mt. Baldy- 10.2 miles
- San Bernardino Peak- 16.5 miles
- San Jacinto- 11.4 miles
- San Gorgonio- 17.3 miles
On our way to the trailhead, a long line of cars formed at the parking lot (via Chantry Flats), and we knew trouble was brewing.
To our dismay, the San Gabriel Mountains Officials announced that a mudslide occurred earlier that morning due to unusual rain activity. They closed off this route (via Chantry Flats) for the entire day.
We turned around, unsure of what to do next. Our entire group relocated to a nearby gas station in order to figure out what to do since Plan A was suddenly destroyed.
It was about 7:30am at this point and the sun was quickly rising. With no other solution, we considered checking out another nearby hiking trail: Echo Mountain.
Me: “Ehh… it looks too easy. We could finish this in a few hours.”
Roxanne: “I’m really disappointed. I had my mind set on hiking Mt. Wilson. I don’t want to settle for Echo Mountain after we had prepared for this over the past few days.”
Adventure Squad was devastated by the sudden closure but still determined to conquer Mt. Wilson. After feeling defeated in our cars at an Arco gas station, a lightbulb suddenly appeared on top of Vouy’s head:
“Wait! According to Google, there might be another way up to Mt. Wilson! We can park on Sierra Madre Street, about 2 miles from the first trailhead and hike up via Sierra Madre. But this route will add an extra 2 miles to our trek and it’s more difficult.”
Not ready to give up, we drove to Sierra Madre with hope that this route wouldn’t be blocked due to the mudslide.
Upon arriving, we saw that many other hikers had relocated here as well.
We let out a sigh of relief as it looked like we just uncovered another way to get to Mt. Wilson after all! Even if it meant an additional 2 miles and greater incline.
And THIS was just the beginning of our day.
Apparently this route via Sierra Madre is not as popular as the first one (Via Chantry Flats).
It’s much more challenging. It’s steeper, 2 miles longer, and the beginning of the trail lacked trees and shade, giving you greater exposure to the dry sun.
However, the views from this alternate route were still beautiful.
About 2 miles into our trek, Angus cramped up and Cathy’s knees started to hurt. We took several breaks along the way since the hike was pretty damn brutal.
Tall Keith: “Sandy, do you hike often? You don’t seem to be dying like the rest of us”
Me: “I AM dying. I’m just not showing it Lol”
And I snapped some shots of the foliage during our stops:
Some in the group had hiking poles but that didn’t seem to ease the physical pain either.
It was definitely a leg day workout.
FEEL THE BURN.
Halfway point vibes:
Angus: “Wow I really hate this right now”
Cathy: “Fuck this”
We paused at a bench on Manzanita Ridge for a snack.
I reminded the group that I’d brought 2 bags of sliced tomatoes for the sandwiches I made for them.
After everyone rejected my sliced tomatoes, this kid in the corner of the rest area overheard our conversation about the unwanted tomatoes.
Kid: “Hi how’s it going?? My name’s Adam!”
Adventure Squad: “Hey! How’s it going?? Nice to meet you.”
Kid: “Who are you guys?”
Adventure Squad: “Well, they call us… THE ADVENTURE SQUAD!!!!!”
Kid: “Nice! I was wondering if you can help me?”
Adventure Squad: “Yeah, sure kid. Are you lost?”
Kid: “I’m really really hungry and I came unprepared with no food on this trip.”
Adventure Squad: “Oh, we have a ton of food! Do you want granola bars? Fruits? A sandwich?”
Kid: “No, I’m on a really strict diet but I really just want those TOMATOES.”
We handed the bag of sliced tomatoes over. Afterwards, he thanked us for saving his life.
Adam is 14 and he’s an ultra-marathon runner. @Adam.amin00
This occurred right after we complained (For probably the 20th time) about the hike Lol.
The incline was not our friend.
2.5 miles later, we finally reached the top of Mt. Wilson- it took about 5 hours.
We were speechless.
At this point, we were so exhausted because the trail seemed to continuously drag on from the misleading signs. Or maybe we were just delusional.
Snow. Snow angels. (Yes, this IS really Los Angeles, California).
And poppin a bottle of champagne with new friends when we reached the summit!
After frolicking in the snow for almost 2 hours, we decided to get going before the sun set.
At first, we ran for the thrill of it since it was downhill.
Then later on, all of us got separated since we were running and walking at different paces.
I ran down alone for quite sometime.
It was at this point when I was alone that I recalled the Bear Attack on this same trail just 3 months earlier in October 2016, that almost left the hiker dead.
Flashbacks to the scene of Leonardo DiCaprio getting demolished by a bear in The Revenant consumed my mind.
I realized that at any moment, a bear could’ve jumped out and I would’ve been dead meat.
I was not willing to suffer the same fate as Leonardo Dicaprio in the wild at age 24.
Although it would have been nice to win an Oscar, I had to make Kobe Proud by surviving my Kobe Year.
So I ran faster.
The 2nd thought that pushed me to run harder was that If i didn’t get down fast enough, I would’ve been caught in the dark by myself with a dead phone and no flashlight.
#3: I was still bitter about finishing in 2nd place to Duy at last week’s hike. I was not going to let myself finish in 2nd place again.
And so, I ran the entire way down, jumping over rocks, rivers, streams, swerving through crowds of old people, young folk, women, men, bikers, and people’s pets.
I literally felt like this:
Every so often, I’d look over my shoulder and see that Vouy was a few meters behind me. He was running quickly so I had to run faster.
I kept running despite wanting to collapse.
I continued to increase my speed until he was out of my sight.
I pushed myself, drowning out the noise in my head that told me I could not do it. My legs were sore and my feet were cramping up.
At this point, I noticed I was only about 1.5 miles away from the start of the trail.
In the last stretch, I ran into a guy in a tye dye shirt with headphones singing loudly to Kanye West’s Faded.
“YOUR LOVE IS FAAADDDDDINNGGG. I FEEL IT”
My reaction to Tye Dye Guy blocking my path:
Then I thought..
MOOOOOVE Bitch! Get out the way!!
I ran past him, his terrible singing, and crossed the finish line.
I slowed to a stop and checked my watch. 4:07 PM.
I made it down in 2 hours and came in 1st place.
3 minutes later, Vouy passed the finish line. Heh heh heh…
Followed by Peter, Angus, Edgar, Short Keith, Roxanne, Tall Keith, and Cathy.
After an entire day of putting our minds and bodies through torture, we treated ourselves to warm, delicious soup in the San Gabriel Valley.
Ain’t no mountain hiiiiiigh enough
Ain’t no valley lowwwww enough
Ain’t no river wiiiiide enough..
to keep me from getting to you, Mt. Wilson!!
5,700 ft, 16 miles, and 9.5 hours of hiking later… you were a tough motherfucker Mt. Wilson, but we conquered ya! Except for Peter..