4/12/11 Cactus To Clouds is really two treks in one. This is the first half (desert/sand/cactus) of my first sucessful C2C summit.
1 The Desert Art Museum at about 6:15am as I hit the trail. I'm working on 4 hours of sleep and a 2 hour drive.
2 Start of the Museum Loop trail, which connects with Lykken, then Skyline to form the Cactus to Clouds route to Long Valley.
3 A panaromic look at the desert floor. I'm trying out a new camera, so there's a lot of repeat pictures that I've also taken on past trips. View Full Size
4 A little further up the trail. It's a gorgeous morning.
5 The first foreboding trail sign.
6 The second rock sign.
7 My all-time favorite trail sign.
8 I've probably taken a picture of this same cactus on every trip here, but I still think it's cool.
9 The Spring wildflowers are just starting to bloom.
10 The wildflowers are bright against the rocks.
11 Flowering cacti!
12 The first rescue callbox. It's nice having recognizable milestones along the route to measure progress.
13 Look carefully. Deer! Seems odd to see deer in the desert. They must wander down from a higher elevation for breakfast.
14 A couple thousand feet up from the desert floor.
15 The first glimpse of the ridge at Long Valley in the distance. It's hard to believe that it's still a full vertical mile above this point!
16 The terrain starts to get more rugged at around 3000'.
17 The chaparral and taller vegetation starts at exactly 4000'. It's funny how you measure distance on this trail not in miles but in elevation.
18 One of the trail signs. I took a small trail offshoot and managed to miss this marker, which ended-up costing me a 10-15min detour, which I wasn't too happy about. Even after hiking this trail a few times, it's easy to briefly lose your way.
19 Mt. San Gorgonio framed by Yuccas. I was on top of Gorgonio in the snow almost exactly one month earlier.
29 If you look closely, you can see the tram, and the edge of the lodge on the ridge.
30 The first snow patch at around 7500'.
31 This was solid snow (and icy) the last couple times. Though there's much less snow this time, it's still a bit slippery with just trail running shoes.
32 Coffman's Crag.
33 Made it to Long Valley at 8400'. 8000' gain in under 10 miles! I had been a bit sick for a week prior to this trek and my energy systems were definitely drained. It took me about 30-40 minutes longer to get here than last time (partially because I was taking more pictures). It's now about 12:40pm. This could easily make a nice stopping point for a tough day hike. But I still have 12 more miles round trip to go. In the snow!