Published: May 22nd 2012May 5th 2012
May 5, 2012
Owing to the fact that I had missed the first two group training hikes, I needed to make up the activity somewhat on my own. Using the resource www.birdandhike.com, I decided to take the strenuous but short Mary Jane Falls trail. Although the path was only four miles round trip, the trail head sits at 7,817 feet and weaves up to the falls at 8,890 feet in elevation. With a gain of 500 feet/mile, it was as close of conditions I could match without being on the trail all day long.
The drive from my Green Valley apartment took about one hour, my poor little car putting up the steep incline into the Spring Mountains. The directions from the website were very simple and I found the parking lot nearly empty upon arrival at 8:30am. With my backpack and hiking poles, I set out.
The first portion of the trail did not have a great elevation gain, but I was walking too fast and soon became out of breath. I declared the air to be too thin and that my out-of-breathness had nothing to do with being out of shape. Pressing onward, I came to
I know on Mt. Whiney there are 90+ of these one must conquer at some point in the trail. This was a good preview of what to come. Steep inclines cut into the side of the mountain, shooting upward without concern about the traveler silly enough to attempt it. I stopped at pretty much every corner for a moment to recoup my courage and moved onward. The final part of the trail was more like steps cut into the rock. It was pretty, but discouraging as it not as easy to traverse. Finally I could hear the sound of trickling water, which rejuvenated my spirits enough to make it to the falls. I made the two mile climb in about two hours.
At my destination, I stopped and had a snack and talked with other hikers. On my way up I had only passed one couple, on their way down, and I encountered three groups of people while taking my rest at the falls. The falls – more like trickles of water from snow melt, a little anti climactic. But there was in fact snow on the trail. The air temperature was so cool and it
was a welcomed break from the 95 degree heat of the desert.
On my way back down, I passed many people who were on the upward trail. I was the only one wit hiking poles and a backpack. Most just carried a water bottle and some wore sandals. Whatever, I was training for a real mountain and I was going to wear all of my gear. My downward walk took me about an hour. I don’t know that I could have gone faster owing to the fact that some of the trail was obscured by rock slides, and I didn’t want to fall to my death. That’s always a motivating factor.
When I reached my car, the previously nearly empty parking lot was overflowing with vehicles. And it was hot! Good thing I started early. I marked this hike as a success and gave myself the overconfidence needed to make the first group hike the next weekend.
There are more photos below