DAY ONE HUNDRED AND SEVENTY NINE
With the family still in San Bernardino, where we spent last night, I came home and went to work this morning. Harrison had a game at 2 p.m. and if his team won the game they'd have another at 8. Since his team hasn't won a game yet, I was fully expecting the family home early. So I headed up to the Tram and figured I'd go for a nice little 6 or 8 mile hike and then head home.
I get off the Tram at a little after 5 p.m. and am delighted to see the mountain covered in shade. I always come in the morning so it surprises me that it's shady this early. Of course, I then found out it is only due to this cloud blocking the sun.
I head down to Long Valley with the intention of hiking over to Willow Creek. I notice, however, that my wife called and so I instead decide to head over somewhere I can get some cell phone reception. I decide to take the Desert View Trail. Once I talk to the wife I can always come back.
I take the Desert View Trail over to where I get a view of the Coachella Valley and some cell phone reception. I call the wife and she's staying in Crestline. Harrison's team won their game by forfeit and will now be playing tonight. The funny thing is that they are playing Coachella. So they travel all the way to the mountains above San Bernardino and play a team from the city next door. At least it's cool up there.
It is also cool up here and with incredible views. I get a glimpse of Long View Dome over to my right and decide that I'll just head over that way instead of going back and then going to Willow Creek.
Long View Dome is this great big rock that can be seen from the Coachella Valley. It is several hundred feet high and has a fun moderate rock climb on it that I did years ago. From the upper side, it's little more than a class 3-4 scramble to get to the top and the views from it are tremendous.
I hike down Long Creek Canyon but realize that I went a bit too low and have to do some scrambling to get to where I can get to the top of the Dome.
In the process I get a couple of scratches on my legs but that's OK. My wife will know I had a great adventure.
The North Face of the Dome is steep and difficult but there are other easier sections. I find this ramp simple and it leads me to a little saddle where I get a nice view looking toward home.
From the saddle all I have to do is scramble up this little section and I'm on top. No biggie. I've done it before. Yet, today I just don't feel right about it. With the deaths of middle aged men dominating the news the past couple of days, I consider the risk. Also, on my FaceBook page this morning, I read about how one of the girls I taught in Sunday School about thirty years ago lost her husband to a heart attack just the other day. He was out surfing.
There is probably a .0001% chance that I'll slip and hurt something. But even if I just sprain my ankle, being out here alone, where no one knows I am, and with my family in another range of mountains miles away, I'd be in trouble. I decide to forgo the scramble, at least for today. This one time, having a surfeit of caution seems to make sense. I'll come back with a friend sometime and do the climb later.
I'll have to be satisfied with this view for now. I say a prayer for Kimmie and her family and head back. On any other day I'd feel like a wuss for not doing the final section of this climb but today I feel very much at peace. Doing the final hundred feet doesn't seem nearly as important today as getting home.