Thursday, January 1, 2009

On A Hill Far Away

January 1, 2009
Day One
If not for the pictures I took, I would swear to you my hike this morning was a dream.  It doesn't seem real.  I guess there are a few reasons for this.

It was early.  I thought it would be fun to get up and hike to the Palm Desert Cross and watch the sun come up.  I don't know why I thought this but it was probably because of the champagne I drank.  I should know better.  A morning person I am not, unless we're talking about the hours after midnight before I normally go to bed.

I set me alarm for 4:55 a.m. so I can get to Palm Desert before twilight at 5:23 and sunrise at 5:50.  The alarm goes off, beep beep, beep beep, beep beep, for one full minute and I don't even hear it.  I'm out.  At 5:20 my wife nudges me and tells me to get up.  I respond by saying that I'm waiting for my alarm to go off and she informs me that it did.  Great.  I'm going to miss the sunrise.

I get out of bed and grab whatever clothes I can.  I get my keys, put on some shoes (Not taking the time to get socks) and go.  It's 5:30 and oddly still dark outside.

I drive to Palm Desert trying to beat the sun and get to the trailhead parking.  No sun yet.  It's too dark to even start hiking  since in my haste I forgot to grab a flashlight or headlamp.  I guess I'll just have to wait.  While I'm waiting, I look up the sunrise time on the internet using my phone and realize I misread what time the sun comes up.  The real times: Twilight 6:23 Sunrise 6:50.  I'm glad I didn't get here earlier.

Finally, at about 6:15, it's starting to get light so I start up the hill.

Since I forgot to grab a jacket or vest it seems cold.  I check my phone again--39 degrees-- that's 30 degrees below freezing for a desert rat but I warm up once I start climbing the hill. 
The cross looms ahead.  It's not old or rugged but it's looks nice standing out beneath the twilit sky.

The trail continues all the way to the cross and there's actually a new section since I last hiked here and I get there before the sun makes an appearance.  I'm plenty warm now and the cold feels refreshing.  

At the base of the cross, someone has decorated a creosote bush for the holidays.

I notice that the sun is coming up and it's getting light but not to where I can see it.  I realize that Eisenhower and Indio Mountains are blocking my view of sunrise.  I'm starting to get cold again so I decide to head down.
The Santa Rosa Mountains to the West are starting to shine in alpenglow and I figure that's enough for me.  

Just as I get to the trailhead the sun makes an appearance to greet the New Year.  This will probably be the only time I see that sunrise this year so I enjoy it for about 2 seconds.  I've got a nap to take and I've got to get to work.

Welcome 2009!  Only 364 hikes to go.

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