The alarm on my iPhone jolts me from a deep sleep. It's 4am, and still dark outside. My body complains audibly as my brain says "Get up, Sleepyhead!" I shuffle through my morning ablutions and feel a tinge of excitement as my body comes back to life and I remember why I'm up so early on a Saturday — we're going on a hike!
I wash down a breakfast wrap with a grande dark roast and about a liter of water en route to the trailhead. It's 5am and the freeways of Southern California are wide open. While most people are still tucked in bed, sawing logs, we're well on our way to the trailhead. About an hour later we reach the trailhead and find a few of our friends are already there.
The sun still hasn't peeked over the mountains, but the sky is lighting up with brilliant golden hues. The air is crisp and cool. The scent of pine trees and trail dirt bring a smile to my face.
We are hiking San Gorgonio — Old Grayback as the finale of what I call the Six-Pack of Peaks Over the next 10 hours we will hike over 17 miles and climb over 5,500 feet to reach the 11,503' summit.
When I talk about hiking with non-hikers, I typically get one of two reactions. Some wonder why in the world anyone would subject themselves to the early mornings, the long miles and the aching muscles — especially when you can drive to so many beautiful places. Others see hiking as little more than a walk in the woods, without appreciation for the effort and knowledge required or the joys found on the trail.
For me, hiking heals my psyche and recharges my soul. When I've spent time wandering up dirt trails into the mountains and seen sights that only a hiker could see, I am replenished. Hiking keeps me grounded and makes me more productive during my work week.
Hikes and hikers come in many forms. Some of us like to go fast and far. Others prefer to take their time and smell the roses. Hikes can be enjoyed in solitude or in the company of others. They can challenge our bodies or provide a relaxing break from a hectic week. Whatever the flavor, the hiker's creed is to hike your own hike.
Back at the trailhead, I've kicked my hiking boots off and I'm sipping a cold beverage strategically stored in a cooler for our post-hike celebration. I'm surrounded by my hiking friends. We are all dusty, sweaty, tired and achy. This hike challenged us, and the trail rewarded us.
I'm already looking forward to my next hike.
Jeff Hester started SoCal Hiker while planning to hike the John Muir Trail. The site included training, gear lists, menu planning, scheduling, permit information and all the details for this thru-hike. Since then SoCal Hiker has grown into resource for hikes and backpack trips across Southern California. Visit his website or follow him on Twitter.
Take a Hike
By Jeff Hester
June 24, 2014
Blogger at SoCal Hiker
As a member of #TeamSierra, Jeff Hester receives promotional consideration from Sierra Trading Post. Jeff is an average guy who enjoys exceptional outdoor adventures. Whether thru-hiking the JMT, exploring the Lost Coast, or bagging a local peak, his goal is to help you find your next adventure.
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