Cactus to Clouds

Friday, November 2

We took a short hike on the Museum trail and a bit of the bottom portion of the Skyline Ridge trail to see in daylight what we would be tackling before dawn the next day. The trailhead is at the back of the parking lot for the Palm Springs Art Museum.

Click on any photo to enlarge.

The peak finally comes into view.

8 miles to get to the halfway point...

That's what D was pointing to!

The inn where we stayed is tucked up against the hillside,
just around the corner from the Art Museum.

 Saturday, November 3

We hit the trail at about 4:10 AM and after about 50 minutes of climbing we got to the picnic tables where I pulled out the camera to take photos of Palm Springs in the dark.

6:34 AM, about 3.5 miles and 2900 feet of climbing.
The horizon is lighting up.

6:51 AM, the sun hasn't come up yet,
but it's light enough to turn off the headlamps.

6:57 AM, the sun still isn't quite up but the sky is getting lighter.

7:00 AM, the sky is getting more colorful by the moment

7:02 AM, the prettiest sky of the morning.

7:17, about 4 miles out and 3700 feet of climbing.
The sun is finally hitting the peak.

Yeah D, there's still a long way to go.

About 4500 ft elevation, 3.5 hours and 5 miles into the hike,
the vegetation is changing.

There's still plenty of cactus up here.

8:09 AM, almost 6 miles and 4650 feet of climbing.
The peak is still looking a long way away.

I'm not sure why they tried to obliterate the sign.
Perhaps to discourage turning back?

9:30 AM, we reach Flat Rock, about 7.6 miles of hiking.
At about 6000 ft elevation

9:31 AM, almost 8 miles and 5900 feet of climbing.
We can finally see the tram.
The big rock is Coffman's Crag.

10:18 AM, about 8.5 miles and almost 7100 feet of climbing.
We have passed the tree line
 and will be hiking through conifers the rest of the way

10:36 AM, coming up on 9 miles and 7500 feet of climbing.
Coffman's Crag is looking a lot closer.

Really close!

11:15 AM, 9.5 miles and almost 8300 feet behind us.
Looking back down(!) on Coffman's Crag.

The final push up to the top of the tram.

11:40 AM, we have our free permits and can continue on to the peak.
7.5 hours about 11 miles and about 8400 feet of climbing behind us.

Only 11+ miles round trip to the peak and back
and then we take the tram down.

1:23 PM
Not there yet...

2:38 PM, 10:28 hours on the trail.
We've slogged 10800 feet uphill (including 611 feet downhill)
That about 15 miles.
The last .3 mile is a complete and utter b***h

We hit the top at 2:49 PM. 11 minutes to do the final slog to the top.
It felt like it took much longer.
We climbed almost 11000 feet to get here.
And it took 10:40 to do it (including photo ops, uh, rest breaks)

Return your copy of the permit so that they don't
go out looking for a lost hiker.

5:59 PM. Almost 14 hours on the trail. About 22 miles.
Sunset from the ramp up (cruel!) to the tram.

The toughest hike I've ever done.

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