While in San Diego my first major goal was to make it to the summit of Mount San Jacinto, a 10,834 foot peak. To do this I took 2 of my buddies with me in case something was to go wrong. If it is something I have learned from my military experience, it is to always have someone with you in case you get yourself in a sticky situation. I did nothing to prepare for this hike which I learned very quickly was a mistake.
The trail started well, we warmed up our body and stretch a little before starting on the trail and once we were warmed up and ready to go we headed out. The elevation gain was pretty steep and was not something I was expecting. The first 1.5 miles the elevation went up about 2,000ft. It was killing my legs, and in my head I was just thinking “We just started. What in the world did I get myself into.” I had no idea what I was getting myself into, and of course it only got worse from here.
At about 8,000 ft in elevation we see our first sight of snow. It was exciting because in California you don’t see to much snow, but little did I know about a mile up the trail it would potentially compromise our mission to reach the summit. Before this point, we found several rocks up on a ridge that we managed to climb on top of and checkout the views from around 8,500 ft. and I must say that I have never seen any views like this before. With us starting to feel fatigue and our breath harder to catch we continued on.
around 9,000 feet in elevation we were starting to run into more snow and ice. I was getting a little worried because we had no crampons or trekking polls to keep us from slipping so we were starting to slip all over the place. As we were heading on a small down hill slope all the sudden my feet slipped from under me and all the sudden I was flying to the ground. Unprepared for the terrain I found myself trying to break my fall with my left arm on a rather large rock that was in my reach. This was a mistake because before I knew it I had dislocated my shoulder.
I had no clue what to do at this point. I could not feel my left arm or move it. My body had started to go into shock and I started to get very light headed and feel like I was going to throw up. The first thought that came to mind was to yell to the others of what had just happened. While they were rushing over to help me, without thinking I lifted up my dislocated arm with my right arm to try and see how far I could move it and to my surprise it popped back into place. The sound and feeling of my shoulder popping back into place made me nearly pass out. At this point I attempted to move my shoulder and had most of my range of motion. It was not the best feeling when I moved it but at least it was back where it was meant to be, in its socket.
This was the point where we had to ask ourselves if it was worth continuing the last two miles up to the summit, or if we should turn back. Of course we chose to continue on, we were to close to turn back. We were underprepared and we knew it but at this point we had to continue on. With only two miles left we knew we could make it, we would just have to slow down a little and be more aware of the environment and situation every step would present.
Slowly but surly, the 5.5 mile hike to the summit of San Jacinto was complete. By the time we had hit the summit it was 2:56p.m. and we were walking like mindless zombies. it had taken us 6 hours to reach the summit and the altitude was kicking out butts, but we had made it. The views were unlike I had ever seen at this point in my life. You could see desert on one side and beautiful green forest on the other. California is funny in this way, if you have ever been, you notice how quickly desert can turn to forest. I suppose that was ultimately what I was wanting to see. Southern California stretched below me for miles and miles.
Although We were not one bit prepared for this trip, we managed to survive. After spending about 20 minutes on the summit, we only took 3 hours to get back to our vehicles and head home. This was my first experience in the world of mountain climbing and I can say I had learn many valuable lessons. Most of all I learned what the human body is capable of even when you want to quit. Your heart and mind will tell you to continue to accomplish even what can seen impossible.