Mt. Wilson is a flirt
It's a silly moment when you realize that even Google Maps can't break through to your little smart phone as you stand on a mountain top. As much as I'd like to think I know how to prepare for a day hike, turns out I rely way too much on the internet for my own good. We set out to do this hike (note the blue, medium difficulty categorization) but instead ended up doing this one (note the scary red, super duper hard categorization). I guess I didn't read Modern Hiker's advice too clearly... "it might get confusing, but if you've got a map and know where you're going, you should be able to find your way." Oops.
If I can give us some credit, the trailhead was a little confusing. I mean, why would you go downhill to start a hike? No matter, I've learned my lesson and I will remind myself to stick to the good ole fashioned printed maps. Maybe I just wanted to see how well my cell coverage really worked in LA...
Though we didn't see the beautiful waterfalls and springs of Santa Anita Canyon, we chose the upward path that led us toward the summit of Mt. Wilson, home to the astronomical research observatory overlooking the San Gabriel Valley. Never before have I been on such a taunting trail. It was so giving, shading us under large canopy trees, I felt like I was in that scene where Pocahontas runs through the forest with her little raccoon and hummingbird friends. Yet the trail was also so merciless as each bend around the hillside didn't give way to that much desired peak with towers indicating signs of the observatory. Every corner we turned just revealed more trail winding upward toward the peak.
We climbed and climbed.
Then saw some funky trees.
Then sipped some water. And ate nibbles of oatmeal cookies. And climbed and climbed. And I made a 'pider friend (eee!)
And saw some butterflies.
It was such a pleasant hike; it just was such a tease seeing Mt. Wilson through the trees in the distance yet almost within reach. It was flirting with us, showing its curves and luscious trees, the towers glimmering in the sun.
Sadly, we didn't make it to the peak. My baggie of oatmeal cookies was dwindling and were spending too much of our hike discussing dinner options and our taste buds were overriding our feet functionality. Plus, I don't think either of us had expected such a strenuous and constant hike, so our legs were whining for attention. After about 3 hours of climbing we admitted defeat and said sayonara to Mt. Wilson, hoping to make it back to the car by sundown. We managed to take "Look how happy we are! We're almost at the top, but not really!" photos before our faces looked too defeated.
The hike downhill made me realize how far we'd really gone. It took a while, but we made it back before the daylight faded and the creepy crawlies emerged from the woods.
I almost made Chris pass out when I decided it was a good idea to take my shoes off in the car. The centimeter of dirt caked on my ankles should have been a sign. Luckily, I've showered a few times since then. I'm happy to say that we explored a new place close to home. And though we didn't make it to the observatory, Mt. Wilson is still a challenge we want to tackle. Next time, I'll be sure to bring a map. And more cookies... :]