Friday Photo – November 3, 2017

If you wish strongly, have courage and endurance, then you can get to the summit of your dream.

~Yuichiro Miura

Today’s Friday Photo is the last of a six-week theme to commemorate my completion of the 2017 Six-Pack of Peaks Challenge. Each week has featured a photo I’ve taken while on the trails to each of these peaks, or from the peaks themselves.

This photo was taken from the summit of Mount San Gorgonio Peak (Peak Number Six in the Six-Pack of Peaks Challenge). This view is looking in a westerly direction. On this day there were a number of people on the summit taking in the majestic views from the highest point in Southern California. At 11,503 feet, you are so high up that you can actually see the curvature of the earth if you look in the distance at the lower mountains on the horizon.

The summit of Mount San Gorgonio has a lunar-like terrain, and this is how it gets the nickname of “Old Greyback”. Actually, the last two miles to the summit traverse this lunar like terrain. This hike is 18.5 miles out and back, with 5,390 feet of elevation gain, and takes anywhere from 10 to 12 hours to complete. For me, it was about a 12.5 hour trip, and one of the most challenging and rewarding adventures of my life. What adds to the challenge of this hike is the last three miles at altitude. Once you approach 10,000 feet, breathing becomes a bit more difficult as you try to maintain enough oxygen in your body. Acclimation is key. I’ve done a number of hikes prior to this one and it helped me to acclimate more quickly to the higher altitude. You basically just need to take your time and take as many breaks along the way as you need to. It’s definitely not a race and there is plenty of beautiful scenery to enjoy along the way to the top.

This was the grand finale in this challenge, and it was easy to see why Old Greyback was the last hike on the list. For me the five peaks before it were part of the preparation to take this one on. That, and the weekly conditioning hikes, and other beautiful hikes that I’ve done on the weekends. After completing Mount San Gorgonio, my hiking strength was taken to a new level. Hikes that used to be more challenging for me now seem to require less effort. I can focus more on the views and scenery while the physical demands take a little bit more of a back seat. I never like to use the word easy when it comes to hiking. Instead I like to say that I’ve gotten stronger, improved my technique, and grown wiser. And I attribute quite a bit of that to completing this amazing challenge.

~ Photo Taken September 16, 2017, 1:24 pm

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