The Summit of Cell Phone Towers and a Wicked Tickle

Hey there! Hope everyone has been having a great week so far! Last Saturday I was able to finally conquer Saddleback Mountain. It was my longest hike so far, at 16 miles and was worth just being able to put a check next to it. I see the mountain all the time driving around Orange County, and now I can look as I drive past, knowing that I handled it 🙂

The first four miles were exciting, as it was a single track trail, like I’m used to. Hiking up switchbacks and appreciating the view as morning carried on. As we approached the fork, coming out of Holy Jim, I got nervous as my heel started hurting. This problem has been reoccurring on recent long hikes, and I was hoping my feet would adapt. But I pushed on, with my friends, up the truck trail to the summit.

The most exciting moment along the truck trail was seeing a group who would fit the stereotype of “909ers” standing outside of their trucks trying to save another truck from tumbling down the mountain.  There was a jeep that slid off the trail with the only thing protecting it and its driver from its demise down the mountain, was a large bush.  We stayed close to observe and the crew finally managed to get the truck back on the road.  I half wanted to see the Jeep tumble down the mountain, but I’m glad it didn’t.  I do care about others, I really do!  However, I enjoy excitement and adventure from time to time as well 😈.

The hike got uneventful as we approached the summit, due to the trail being a fire road.  There were many trucks and dirt bikes, and we mutually respected each others’ presence.  The last half-mile got really tough, however.  We were in direct sunlight and the summit, littered with cell phone towers, looked so close, but the switchbacks had other plans.  Right before the summit, we were shaded and the cool air helped me to push on.  The briskness continually energized me and I was able to trudge at my own pace, regardless of where the rest of the group was at on the trail.  I experienced a oneness that I love, especially with hiking.  I go my own pace, do my own thing, don’t hurt anyone, and it all works out great!

When we got to the summit, the view was beautiful, so long as we looked off into the horizon.  We met some nice people at the top and conversed about our journey.  The coolest thing was seeing the mountains I had already hiked off in the horizon, remembering the adventures and sense of achievement.

As we were recuperating and eating lunch, my vegetarian friend stared at me, angrily eyeing my turkey jerkey.  I offered her some, and that’s how I found out about her vegetarianism, d’oh!  The three of us laughed about it, stretched and started making our way back down the trail.  We made great time coming down with little to no stops except for bathroom breaks.  The brisk pace we had together really helped me to feel unified with other human beings.  We developed a step rhythm that kept us moving quickly and closely together.  Of course, the order of people needed to be rearranged every once in a while due to flatulence, but we laughed it off and enjoyed the journey.

Despite the more man made trail, I enjoyed the challenge that this hike gave me, and I enjoyed being able to be present with my friends, without a cell phone.  I went to REI the next day to ask for boot tips to help my heel, and we’ll see how that all evolves.

In other news, I got to try one of my birthday gift hot sauces on my Sunday of recovery.  It’s called “Wicked Tickle” and it was amazing!  The skull and angel wings wax seal meant business and already had the sauce living up to its name!

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It is a ghost pepper based sauce, with habañero peppers, garlic, and a bunch of other crazy ingredients.  The first few bites of my salad were very flavorful, but then came the sting; tickle as they would call it 😉  The burn lingered for a long time, which is typical for a ghost pepper sauce and I was sold.  I don’t know if I would call the burn a tickle, but it was nevertheless a positive experience.

Stay tuned! Next week I’ll be documenting another hike I did before I started this blog, to Mount Baldy.  Remember, go out there and spice your life up.  It does the soul good!

-Doug

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