I was supposed to have posted about my Mummy Spring Trail hike last Friday. As usual, time got away from me. And now I have two more posts brewing in my head, based on my 3-day mini vacation in Big Bear Lake. I see a lot of writing in my near future. Time to grab some more coffee.
It’s funny to reflect back on my hike of Mummy Spring Trail a week ago. When I completed the hike, it felt completely and utterly epic, but now barely musters any excitement inside me at all. I’m trying to relive it in my head so that I can transform those thoughts into a blog post, but I’ve since summited the second highest mountain in Southern California. Clearly that hike has coloured my vision of what completely and utterly epic looks like.
That, my friends, is why you should blog about your adventures and achievements when they’re fresh! Lesson learned. 😉
Let’s give this a shot then, shall we?
On Wednesday May 15th, two days after hitting a personal best when I climbed the Mary Jane Falls trail, I decided to try another hike in the Spring Mountains, Mummy Spring.
The guidebook characterizes the hike as 6.4 miles total distance, with an elevation gain of +1,800. Starting altitude is 8,364 and it hits a high point of 10,086 [my highest to date] before dropping back down to 9,840 at the actual spring.
My hiking book suggests a total hike time of 3-4 hours; however the sign at the trailhead indicated a one-way hike time of 3:00. So that kind of scared me. And I made sure Mr. Enthusiasm wasn’t able to read it. No need to argue before a hike. 😉
The trail started at the North Loop trailhead, where I then hiked west for approximately 1.5 miles to a viewpoint just east of Mummy Mountain.
At that point, the trail offers up a series of steep switchbacks through a heavily forested area of Bristlecone Pines the the top of the ridge. The incline felt unbelievably steep. I wish I had some way of knowing the exact grade. If I was on a treadmill, hmm… I’d guess at least a 6.0%. And that’s at an altitude of approximately 9,000 feet.
Mr. Enthusiasm was taking it slow. But I really wanted to push myself, so I gave it everything I had and pushed up the mountain as fast as my legs (and lungs) would allow. There were many times during the climb, on the switchbacks, where I had no idea how far back he was. It was the loneliest trail I’ve hiked to date. Not a single soul passed me going up or down.
I was confident that Mr. E was still slogging his way up, but I couldn’t tell how many yards (or minutes) separated us. That’s when my mind started racing (okay…so now I’m actually getting excited, remembering my mindset!)…What if a snake, bobcat, or worse still, a bear, appeared? I was literally on my own. I was afraid. I was acutely aware of my fear. But I also found some strange sense of peace with it.
It’s as though my mind just settled on accepting the reality of the situation. I was probably at least 5-10 minutes from Mr. E reaching me, and in that amount of time I could encounter a creature of some sort. The likelihood that I would probably die of a heart attack before the actual creature could cause me any harm was not lost on me.
When I made it to the ridge line, I paused to sip some water, slow my racing heart, and then shouted out “Ed” once. Nothing. A second time. Still nothing. Again. Not a sound.
How far back was he? I was shouting pretty loud, and I thought my voice was carrying well. I waited there for a couple of minutes, thought I saw some movement on one of the switchbacks below, and shouted one more time, “Eeeeedddddddd”.
He looked up, waved his hands to let me know he heard me. I asked if everything was okay by using the universal thumbs up symbol. He gave me a thumbs up back, so I ventured forward. My glutes were screaming. As were my quads. And forget about my calves.
At the 2.7 mile mark, I reached the first milestone of the hike, an area just under the Mummy’s Toe, where I was able to meet the biggest celebrity of the area, a 3,000 year old Bristlecone Pine named Raintree.
Raintree is believed to be the oldest and biggest living tree in the Spring Mountains. She is beautiful, especially for such an old broad!
I waited there for Mr. E to catch up to me (and snap a few pics of me with my favourite 3,000 year old friend).
From there, we hiked together for the remaining half mile to the spring itself. This final half mile was actually all downhill, so it provided a bit of relief to the seized up quads and calves. I failed to register that it meant an uphill half mile climb coming back down.
When we reached Mummy Spring, we were both awed by the serene beauty. There were plenty of remnants of the harsh winter, in the form of several little piles of snow and ice.
The spring itself is nestled in a cool, north-east facing chute below Mummy Mountain, and the lighting in the late afternoon provided some beautiful and peaceful views. This is one of the many reasons I love hiking so much. Where else are you able to get views like this?
In addition to the outstanding views and the fact that I was able to get 3:05 of physical activity (and a calorie burn of 2,732 for the day!), I was also able to overcome two fears on this hike, both related to hiking alone (which I never do):
- Fear of getting lost. I am always second guessing myself on the trails (unless they are super well marked and idiot-proof). My sense of direction has never been what you’d call stellar. Add that to the fact that in nature there are no street signs or a GPS telling you the right way to go, and it’s a recipe for questioning every step. At least for me. I did 70% of this climb on my own, and had to trust my instinct several times. This felt good.
- Fear of enountering scary or creepy wildlife (snake, bobcat, mountain lion, bear, etc.). This is a big one. It’s the reason I don’t just hop in the car and head out to Red Rock Canyon (15 minutes from home here in Vegas) or the Spring Mountains myself. The fact that I was able to get so far from my hiking partner, with no one else on the trail, was a giant moment of progression for me. The truth is, those creatures do live in those mountains. And I could have crossed paths with one. But I didn’t. And I didn’t allow the fear of the maybe to stop me from doing what I needed to do. This feels very, very good.
So, while I’ve completed an even more epic hike in the days since Mummy Spring, I am forever grateful for that hike, on that day, and the fears that I was able to work through as I hiked alone up that mountain. Those breakthroughs served me very well on Mount San Jacinto. But that story is for another post…
Til then…Get Moving!