Palisades Adventure July 18, 2014
Day1-Drove to the Eastern Sierras to the trailhead to set up camp(about 5-6 hour drive). Set up camp and noticed clouds rolling in. Had been watching weather reports and everything pointed to storms for the week. Rained all night.
Day2-Took forever getting packed up because of the rain! Kept having to run to the car then had to let the tents dry before we could pack them. Finally got it all packed but decided to leave the climbing ropes and harnesses since we figured the weather was too bad to attempt any class 4 climbs(a decision we really regretted later on). Me and my exercise buddy’s packs were 40lbs and my dad’s was around 50-60lbs. Used the bathroom one last time before heading out on the trail lol It was cool and cloudy, which was very welcome since the trail has little tree cover in the beginning and its very steep. The trailhead is at 8000′(2438.4m) and goes along a series of ridges following a river of glacial melt which as you get higher becomes a series of turquoise blue lakes. There are 7 big lakes and many smaller glacial lakes dotted around the area. Lots of waterfalls too as well.
My exercise buddy is an exceptional athlete and easily out hiked me and my dad. I started feeling the elevation at 10000′(3048m). 10000′ is always when I start to struggle, even with all the altitude training I do up the mountain, its always my breaking point. We made amazing time though and got to our camp site 5 hours after we started(including breaks) and ended at 11000′(3352.8m). Total hike was 8 miles, 3000ft elevation gain.
The hike in is rough and we set up camp and took a nap. Dinner was vegetarian chicken curry with rice. Turned out really good. All the prepackaged meals I made worked well. So much cheaper than buying those prepackaged meals. And I can’t do most prepackaged meals anyways bc of lactose/gluten intolerance and being a vegetarian.
Day3-Made an attempt of Mt. Gayley(13500′, 4114.8m) and I was really tired from the hike in the day before. I had gotten acclimatized to 11000′ from our camp being at that elevation, but once we got to 12000′(3657.6m) I started really feeling it again. There was TONS of talus(giant fields of rocks and boulders loosely pilled up) and at first it wasn’t bad. I’ve always liked rock hoping, but its very slow going since you have to check the stability of every rock and find the right paths. Also, its exhausted jumping and climbing. We got the the base of the peak but were having trouble finding a way up. The description was to go up a chute and we found one with some trail markers but it was just loose scree(awful nasty pebbles and broken rock). We started heading up and it had already been 3 hours and I finally told my dad, “If we don’t die going up this, then we will die coming. This is unreasonable.” He looked around us and was inclined to agree. Honestly, if one of us had fallen, below was a field of rocks and there were giant rocks slides going on every hour and below the rocks was a giant lake that the huge glacier was melting into that was filled with icebergs. Falling=dying. We heading back down, which was so much more dangerous and scary than getting up. After we got back down to the fields of talus, my thighs started giving way. I had really over done it and my muscles couldn’t support my weight fully from the rock jumping and climbing. I slipped a few times.
The trip really made me realize how much I need to build up muscle. I’ve simply become too skinny and bony and need to get stronger if I want to last and longer and harder trips.
Day4-Rest day. Greatly needed by me and my exercise buddy who had begun to suffer from altitude the night before. She totally lost her appetite and was basically starving. Loss of appetite is expected at high elevations and I lose mine too, but I know what’s causing it and force myself to eat regardless. She mentally wasn’t handling it so well :/ Mentally, she did not have the strength for the kind of trip we were on even if she is one of the most physically capable people I’ve ever met in real life. She stayed in the tent the entire day and I think she was actually afraid from the day before.
Not content to ever sit still, my dad took off exploring the glacier and looking for routes for 8 hours. I went exploring the waterfall in the meadow we were staying in. I haven’t mentioned it, but Sam Mac meadow is truly one of the most beautiful and magical places I’ve ever been. I love it so much and was sad when we had to leave. I took lots of pictures, washed my hair in glacial melt, and ended up finding a trail that turned out to be a short cut for getting to the peaks on the other side of the glacier 😀
I also wrote many notes to my fiance who I of course missed greatly, especially starting on the rest day.
My dad came back in the evening and he had found the correct route up Mt. Gayley, but it turns out we wouldn’t have been able to make it up even if we had found it because it would have required us to go across the glacier(guess it was wayyy to the north) and without proper ice gear we wouldn’t have made it. Even with proper ice gear it might have not been a sure thing either bc the ice was in really bad shape.
Day5-My friend was still not doing well. I brought her breakfast in the tent as she was still very reluctant to leave the tent :/ I had waken up at 5:30 and gotten breakfast, coffee(you better believe we had coffee every morning!) and myself ready for the day since me and my dad wanted to head out early to climb Mt. Winchell. I had told my dad about the short cut trail and we checked it out and to our happy surprise, it took us right where we wanted to go. I guess my dad had forgotten about this trail and had used it before. Last time we went to the Palisades he kept talking about this lake and how it was so close to the meadow etc, but the trail we were on was taking us in the opposite direction and then he decided to cross country it up talus and that’s how my sister was injured and what cut short our trip to the Palisades two years ago. So he was very happy to rediscover this trail.
The trail lead up a waterfall onto a rocky plateau over looking Sam Mac lake(filled with little icebergs from chunks of glacier falling into it). It was very beautiful, and very chilly of course. I was so glad to have brought my dad’s old ice climbing jacket. With my chronic anemia and aversion to cold I needed that ice climbing jacket to get me through!
We took a break for snacks, then the fields of talus begun again. It was soooo slow. Just mind-numbingly awful to deal with T_T Finally, my dad decided to just jump onto a little glacier and walk up the snow even though we didn’t have gear, bc honestly it couldn’t have been any more dangerous than the stupid talus and sadly it went so much faster.
I fell many, many times in the snow. My dad is obviously a pro and took off, but me…I ended up wet and covered with snow :p
We finally made it to the base on the peak. It was a giant pile of talus and scree. Very dirty rock in awful condition. I wished we had brought the gear, because it was painfully obvious that the trial was NOT class 3 and really was class 4 and maybe some easy borderline class 5 moments of actual climbing.
The climb was extremely exposed and below was a 2000′ drop onto the talus and glacier. We had a rough time following the route, even after reading the guides and studying the pictures. The way it was described turned out to not be how the route went at all. It was not straight up a gully, but crisscrossed a lot. Several times we went across razor thin edges only to find dead ends. At one point I got very scared and was exhausted and started crying. I’m not a cryer or a very emotional person to begin with, but it was honestly a very scary moment. I had just done some real climbing over rocks that was breaking beneath my hands and my dad had climbed onto an overhang and gone behind a corner only to realize that it was the wrong way so we had to go back the terrible way we came. My dad had to yell at me to get it together bc obviously this was not the place to have a meltdown and if there was ever a time I needed to be totally calm and focused it was NOW.
Finally we made it up to the peak and signed our names in the register. My dad is a nerd and signed his ham radio call sign :p I drew a happy face. The peak summit is 13776′(4198.9m) and the highest I’ve been.My new goal is to conquer a 14000′ peak 🙂
We had a snack and savored the view before heading down. It took us 5 hours to get to the summit and the entire trip took 8 hours and 45 min. My legs gave out again and I slipped a few times but didn’t get seriously injured at all. Just bruises and cuts.
Day6-Hiked out. We were all excited to go eat fresh food and made incredible time going down. It only took us 3 hours and 20 min to do the 8 miles hike down. It was very funny because on the way down we ran into many day hikers and this one older European man stopped me and started talking and invited me to go to Spain with him and promised me lots of good food and cheap wine! lol The same man talked to my dad who was behind us, but my dad says he didn’t invite him to go to Spain 😉 haha
Over all this was my most favorite trip I’ve done. I LOVE the Palisades, but me and my dad agree its not worth going so late in the summer. Next time we will bring gear and go when there’s still plenty of ice and snow since its so much faster then trying to scramble across the rocks. Also, rock slides are a serious worry. We saw a bunch of huge ones and saw rocks the size of cars fall off peaks. The rocks hadn’t had to time to settle from the melting glaciers and snow and were too volatile.
I also realized how weak I am. I was completely bruised all over my body from being too bony and not muscular enough. The fronts of my hips were bruised from my pack, the back of my hips were bruised from sleeping(this ones normal when camping/backpacking the rest I’m told are very weird), the sides of my hips were bruised from sleeping, my ribs were bruised from sleeping, and my knees were very bruised from knocking into one another while I slept. My new goal is now that I’m not training for the trip, I’m not going to be doing the crazy amounts of hiking I was doing and instead am going to focus on weight lifting and strength with my exercise buddy training me. I’m still very active normally and do cardio activities like swimming, rollerblading, walking, biking just for fun, but I’m not doing 4 days a week of intense hiking at elevation.
Weight wise, I of course gained water weight from muscle tears and repair. I lost inches though and visibly am slimmer with a few people commenting on it since I got back. I’m still waiting for my weight to go down though.
TMI-Also I started my period after being back and eating enough for a few days. The trip stopped my period, and now its come back with a vengeance! So I’m waiting for that to end as well to see how much weight I lost.
Here is the link to the pics of the trip on fb https://www.facebook.com/dorothy.robbins9/media_set?set=a.10202757283226792.1073741845.1041240052&type=3