My senior year of High School, a few girl friends and I made a motto for ourselves..."Better to regret doing somethings than to regret not doing something". This became the start of an incredible year full of memories, lessons learned and thankfully we were all smart enough not to take that motto to the extreme. Twenty-three years later I find at times, I am driven by that same motto, hence the explanation as to why Devin and I made the decision to do the 5th hardest hike in California climbing to the tallest mountain peak in California, Mt San Jacinto ~ They appropriately named the hike Cactus to Clouds.
Cactus to Clouds hike is long. You start on the desert floor and climb to 10,804 feet. You gain over 8,000 feet in the first 12 miles and much of this is hiking in dry arid desert conditions. The total elevation gain is 10,400 feet in 17.5 miles. From the very first step you start gaining elevation - nonstop. After a mile you come across a rock painted with a note saying, "No water on trial until Round Valley Ranger Station, 8 miles, 10 hours." New information from the State Park Rangers suggest it is 11 miles and not 8. After 12 hard miles you reach Long Valley. This is where the upper tram station is as well as the State Park Ranger Station where you will need to obtain a permit for the rest of your hike if you continue to the top of the mountain.