Sunday, July 2, 2017

Hiking Cucamonga Peak

Our trek in Peru is coming up soon and since parts of that trek are known for being at high altitude with significant gains in elevation, we figured that we had to do something super hard to prepare.  The hike to the top of Cucamonga Peak fit the bill--it's just 11.6 miles out-and-back, but it gains 4,300 feet vertically and ends at an elevation of 8,859 feet (we could definitely feel the altitude).  And man, it was hard.  I wonder if the Salkantay Trek is going to be five straight days of this torture.... just kidding, it's all going to be very rewarding, I'm sure.  We'll be sure to pack our Ibuprofen and altitude pills.

Every single time we thought we were almost at the top, we were wrong--the trail was unrelenting.  There are many ups and downs, over a saddle into a valley just to climb up more again.  Earlier this year, we hiked the 2.5 miles to the halfway point (the Icehouse Saddle), and that was already an ass-kicking, heart-pumping, lung-bursting experience from start to finish--going downhill is also quite rough with all of those loose rocks.  Of course, the hard work paid off in the end.  The view at the top was so grand, I almost felt like we were in a plane.  And the trees along the trail were beautiful to admire the whole way.  We took a ton of photos because I'm not sure if I'd do it again, to be honest! 

We reached the Icehouse saddle and ate our bagel sandwiches from Goldstein's here.  It's a windy spot, but it felt so nice!  We also were joined by a chipmunk, who we named Philip.  Wes set up the camera on video mode and left it on the log with a corn nut in the viewfinder.  Without fail, Philip approached the corn nut, grabbed it in his claws, and munched on it in full view of the camera.  We excitedly rewatched the video a bunch of times.  

Luckily for us, there was another hiker up there who was willing to take some photos for us as we posed together on the famous overlook rock.  It looks really intense from this angle, but don't worry it's not a huge drop.  There are other boulders right there and there's plenty of room to stand... and jump!

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