Saturday, May 23, 2009

How Sweet It Is


This morning I had hoped to toss the kids in the car and take them to the mountains. Didn't happen. The kids slept late and I didn't have to heart to wake them up. By the time they got up, got dressed and got fed it was too late to follow my original plan. That's OK, though because at this point I'm able to adapt rather easily. Lucky for me; today's hike was great. I climbed a peak I'd never done for the first time and I love when I do that.

Sugarloaf Mountain is a little peak that rises above Highway 74 near Pinyon. I'd never done it because it never seemed far enough away or tall enough. What it lacks in those characteristics it makes up in wildness.

I start the climb from the turnout right across from the Cahuilla Tewanet Lookout area on Highway 74. I don't know why I didn't park in the lookout parking lot but I will next time.

When I left Palm Desert, the temperature was 100º. Here it is 82º and I will soon be in the shade. It's a perfect day for hiking.

It is also a perfect day for snakes. Fortunately, the only snake I see is this little garter snake. I walk slowly making sure I keep my eye out for rattlers every step.

While the flowers in the desert have all but disappeared, up here there are still blooms like this Silver Cholla.

Going is slow because in addition to keeping my eye out for snakes, I have to make my way through cacti, agave, loose rocks and other things that are designed to bring me misery.

As I get higher, the climb gets steeper but the plants become more sparse. I am grateful on both counts. I love climbing steep ground and I hate getting stuck all the time.

The view from up here is wonderful and the weather couldn't be better. A breeze is blowing and I actually feel a little chill. I like it.

After a bit more climbing I am at the top. I make my way to about three different little rock piles that all look about the same height. There is not summit register or benchmark to it's hard to tell. But I think this is the top.

There's a real nice view from here looking down at this rock ridge that comes off of the main mountain.

Looking the other direction, I can see Martinez Mountain, a peak I have climbed several times. I wonder, is that little rock fin taller? I climb it just to be sure I make the top.

Instead of going down the way I came up, I bail off the north side instead. It does not have near the amount of plants but it has a lot more rocks.

A lot more.

I pick my way down rather quickly and really enjoy the rock hopping. This would be the way to climb it in the future even though it is a bit steeper.

After picking my way through rocks and more cacti, I run into this old road and it is a welcome sight. I don't think I have walked more than ten feet in a straight line this whole climb and it'll be a pleasure not having to look behind every rock for snakes.

Highway 74 brings me to my vehicle and the temperature is now 70º. It couldn't be more perfect. I call my wife and she asks how my hike was. I can describe it in one word: sweet.

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