This was a trip for the books, one that not only had a sunset summit viewing but also a sunrise summit viewing. That’s the beauty of backpacking, versus day hikes, it’s like the whole mountain belongs to you with no time limit. You can explore all day and all night.
I’m so excited to share pics with you all from this adventure. Let’s get started!
We decided our best plan of action for hiking and backpacking would be taking the Marion Mountain Trail. Reason being.. this is the shortest (tram free) route up the mountain but it also has a pretty intense elevation gain, 4,600 ft in roughly 5.3 miles! Idea was get up fast but get a major workout too. Mission accomplished my friends!
As you can see Lemonhead had to stay at home. Poor thing she loves this stuff and I felt horrible walking out the door with my pack. She would have froze though. I’ll get to that later!
Immediately when you start on the trail you get beautiful views of civilization below and some much desired shade!
About halfway to camp there is a great spot to drop your pack, take some pics, and enjoy lunch or a snack pack! The trees open up here and there are some large boulders to play or lay on as you enjoy the birds eye view. Take a break here and relax it’s worth it!
Here are some more pics taken as we ventured all the way up! Trying to keep busy by joking around, taking funny pictures, and talking about whatever comes to our mind so we forget how miserable our bodies are feeling. A lot of backpacking is simply a mental game; how far can you push your body when it’s screaming at you to stop.
When the trail becomes an obstacle course!
We even ran into a group of hikers that only had about 1.5 miles to go to reach summit and they just mentally couldn’t complete the trail. They were headed back down when we ran into them. You could tell they we super bummed but they understood that they weren’t mentally prepared that day and it’s not a good idea to push your body when your in that mental state. That’s when you end up getting lost, hurt, stuck in the dark, or even worse lost, hurt AND stuck in the wilderness after dark!! No thanks!
Yup, caught on my phone even way out in the wilderness!
When we had about 2/3rds of the trail behind us the scenery started to change a bit. We became more enclosed in a grassy/shrub terrain. It also felt like one of the easier parts of the trail.
This is around when we started to get our second wind because amazing backpackers and hikers going down the mountain said we were getting close to our camp site! And my teeny tiny 5 ft tall 98 lb body screamed with joy!
Second wind in full effect!
Then it appeared like a beacon of light shimmering in the distance, like a glimpse of the finish line on the home stretch of a marathon, or like the moment you lay eyes on your cozy bed after a rough long day… Our home sweet home, Little Round Valley camp grounds!!! We settled on camp site 1, hurried to detach our packs from our backs, and set up camp so we could head out to see the sunset from Mount San Jacinto Peak!
Once we completed set up we booked it up the mountain. We did the last 1.5 miles in what felt like a sprint. We were packless and determined to reach summit before sunset. I still managed to take some scenery pics on the mad dash to the top.
You can totally see the progression of the sun setting in these images. And what’s really neat is the terrain starts to change again and you start to see massive boulders. The very last part of the trek you literally have no trail and you just start climbing boulders which ever way you can. It’s very different and a lot of fun! (However I didn’t get any images of those boulders since I was scrambling up as fast as my lil legs would go!)
Then we were finally there, at what felt like the top of the world. At an elevation of 10,834 feet. We took it all in, made new friends, downed flasks of Fireball, took amazing pics, and of course oowwed and awwwed over the incredible view!
Moments like these are what all the hard work is about. It was insanely beautiful. I wish I could have shared it with all my friends and loved ones. Not quite anything like sitting on top of a mountain, at sunset, with about 15 other people knowing that entire cities are moving around below you and you’re just peacefully watching them. Can’t fully describe it, but boy is it an amazing feeling!
I was sitting there literally watching the moon rise on one side and the sun go down on the other. Un-freakin-believable!
And then night fell and all the lights were visible on the cities below! The super moon also made for some neat photos!
We hung out for quite a long time at summit till or bellies were having heated convos about dinner. We then headed back in the dark, with the help of the moon and our head lamps to camp, to fill our bellies and pass out before our 4am wake up call snuck up on us!
Dinner in the dark!
To say I was extremely unhappy and throwing tantrums about the 4am wake up call would be an understatement. I’m not a morning person, never have been, never will be. I find it a total waste of time to be up before 9am, I mean everything fun in life happens after 8pm, right?!? That’s why they have the best TV shows on from 8 to 11pm…that’s why bars are a hoppin at midnight. Night is my hot jam, morning not so much.
Anyways, it didn’t help that I barely slept because the temps dropped below freezing and I’m the biggest freeze baby on the planet. I slept in the middle of the sleeping bag in the smallest ball I could possibly shove my body into and just prayed for morning. Needless to say I survived the night and zombie walked back up the mountain at 4am..kicking, screaming, and refusing to speak to anyone.. out of pure protest for voluntary joining the group to watch the sunrise. Haha! And yes I do realize that is crazy!!! Thank freakin goodness my friends know me so well and love me, anyone else would have thrown my @$$ off the mountain!
But in the end the views were worth it and although I turned into a popsicle at the end of it all, it was a beautiful sight to share with everyone! We were also able to take a bunch of other photos since there were only about 6 of us at summit that early.
Then it was time to head back down and pack up camp. We checked out the little stone cabin which is an emergency cabin. It is situated with 4 cots, emergency and first aid equipment, and an area for you to leave any food, snacks, or booze a weary hiker or backpacker may need.
I’m beginning to understand more and more that the backpacking community includes such caring, friendly, giving people. I just love it and sometimes I can’t even believe that they took me in and that I really get to be a part of it all. It’s an extremely unique and slightly crazy group of people.
We packed up camp quickly and headed down the mountain too say goodbye, for now, to Mount San Jacinto! Sometimes this can be the hardest part for me. Why? Because I’ve already pushed past my mental toughest to reach summit, the challenge is over in my eyes and now you’re telling me I have to walk another 6 or so miles to go home?!? Downhill is always a struggle for me so I have to remind myself often that it is also part of the overall journey!
The Three Amigos! Thanks friends for an unreal experience. Next weekend….same place, same time!!! 😉
So happy to be back home with Lemon now. Posted up on the couch eating all my leftover candy… ok ok who am I kidding there was no left over candy. I bought more when I got home!! #igot99problemsandcandyisthemainone
Hope you enjoyed this post, I worked extremely hard on it cause that’s simply how much this trip inspired and excited me! Adventure awaits my fellow wanderlust seekers… go get it!
P.S. I had a lot of time to think on this trip and at points my thoughts were a bit bizarre, delusional, and quite frankly not make any sense due to the fact that I was freezing, exhausted, and jacked up on fireball. But none the less I came up with a nickname for my pack… (since she’s strapped to my damn back like tiny child for hours on end I thought it was only fitting for her to receive a name. …and yes she is female) her name is Kit.
Named after Kit from A League of Their Own, which is by far my favorite movie of all time, I know almost every word. But, anyone that’s ever seen the movie knows that Kit is always a step behind her sister, no one ever realizes how strong she is, and she just keep chugging along always being second best. Till eventually she shows everyone what the f is up and proves she’s one tough cookie. So, yeah, I feel I can relate so backpack is now Kit! I’d share some of my other thought from the trip but they make even less sense then that one!!!
“It’s supposed to be hard. If it wasn’t hard everyone would do it. The hard is what makes it great!” Mr. Jimmy Dugan