Runner's Footprints

Runner's Footprints

Wednesday, September 7, 2016

Mt. Langley Summit 14,026'

Getting Out of Your Comfort Zone

Last minute, I craved some sky and higher altitude than 12K so researched a peak and went for it. As Labor Day weekend is a very popular weekend for outdoor activities, all hotels were sold out in Lone Pine, which sits at 3700' elevation and a 3 hour drive north from LA. Next best thing: car camping. Coordinating with a couple friends who were planning their double 14er summit weekend, we all stayed overnight at Horseshoe Meadow Campgrounds, where the trailhead to the summit begins and sits at 10,000' elevation under the stars. 

It was a very crisp night at 37F and I had forgotten my sleeping bag. I slept in all my gear layers, but it wasn't enough. I might have gotten maybe 3hrs of interrupted sleep due to discomfort, not ideal when trying to climb to 14K the next day. Overnight, I drank almost a liter of water due to an increased thirst at elevation, which I discovered later would lead to about 3 urine stops within the first two hours. Tip: Space out your hydration throughout the days prior.  I had not. 

Mile 1. We started on the Cottonwood Trailhead shortly before 6am when the first sun rays began warming the tops of the pines. No permit is required if you are not camping overnight in the wilderness. Only a parking pass is required. We excitedly began with the intention to summit, but keeping priority first that weather and/or our bodies may not allow for a summit. The first five miles meander through the serene tree lined wilderness and climb slightly over 1000' collectively, therefore, a very gentle climb. At Mile 4, you come to a section where the trailhead breaks off to New Army Pass or Cottonwood Lakes. We ran into a couple who recommended Cottonwood Lakes (Old Army Pass, it's a mile less, climbs a little steeper, and much more scenic with lakes). 

Mile 6. You climb only another 200' where it opens up to the beautiful meadows, crystal lakes, and get your first view of the gnarly rocky ridge you will need to ascend. The 360 degree terrain is mesmerizing. After reaching the rocky ridge base around Mile 6 at 11,200' elevation, you begin the most difficult half of your ascent. The majority of hikers at this point are carrying only a day back to summit as they camped overnight at the lakes to split the ascent over two days. Tip: Drink, eat, drink, pace, and listen to any early signs of altitude sickness especially as you climb to higher elevations.

Mile 8. When you reach the top of the ridge breaking 12,000' elevation, the views in front of you are mountain range after mountain range, something my soul simply loves to see. Turn around to see what you just climbed in less than two miles will shock you. Welcome to the Sequoia National Forest. 

Mile 9. The climbing becomes forgiving again for the next two miles climbing only about 800', so if you're an avid climber, this may not phase you. If you're sensitive to altitude, this will tax you. Mile 9.5 at 12,500', we stopped for a 30min lunch eating my foot long subway sandwich. Extra jalapeƱo and mustard on chicken with veggies hit the spot. After this point, we all went on our own pace to the summit. Less than two miles left to the summit; it will be the most challenging 1500' gain of the day. Be prepared for some scrambling, crawling on all fours, and being brought to complete stops (for most). There were a few laying down and taking naps even though we were so close to the summit. 

Mile 10. Above 13K, that will do it to you. Pushing the effort, I passed hiker after hiker. My goal: get absolutely uncomfortable (safely) to earn that summit. I was nauseous, sleepy, lightheaded, and breathing very heavily. It felt awesome! Inside, I missed this extreme type of discomfort due to altitude... that feeling of pushing so hard you want to vomit. I was uncomfortable yet so happy to be right where I was.

As my birthday nears, I always take the month to reflect and celebrate if I can where my life has brought me, asking myself: have I accomplished what I wanted this past year? What areas have I grown in? What areas do I still need to work on?  What actions will I do to today to ensure I am grateful? Normally, most do this during the New Year; however, I find my mind is more reflective at different times, not when everyone else is doing it. I usually do it during my very long or difficult training days, therefore, I enjoy reflecting often. I took a moment to look around at the vast open space and gave thanks. Thanks for suffering in life. Thanks for losing. Thanks for failing. Thanks for the insatiable hunger to keep learning. Because if I had not suffered, lost, or failed, I wouldn't be the woman I am today.  

Summit. I reached the summit and allowed myself to enjoy it for an hour until my body could not take the cold any longer. Some found signal at the summit; I stayed disconnected to just really take in that moment. We were as high as cessnas fly. But we didn't fly up there; we climbed on foot and our bodies can do that. Survive discomfort. Survive suffering. Survive pain. One thing it does is it teaches us: we are strong enough. We are capable to endure more. 

Get comfortable with being uncomfortable. To go further. To go faster. To go higher. It's when we're uncomfortable where we learn. Learn what we really can do. 

***

Mt. Langley 14,026'
9.5hrs moving time
12hrs total time

Start:
Horseshoe Meadow Campground, Cottonwood Trailhead

Sept Temps:
10K - 37F overnight 
11K - 46F day
12K - 50F day
Summit - 32F, 20mph winds
10K - 45F evening 

Calories consumed:
Mile 0 - fruit salad (400) 
Mile 4.5 - chips, string cheese (500)
Mile 9.5 - subway, almonds (700)
Mile 11.2mi - bar, yogurt, nuts (600)
Mile 12.5 - yogurt, nuts (400)
Mile 16 - Bar (100)
Mile 22.4 - soup & crackers (300)
Total (3000)

11,000 altitude via Cottonwood Lakes


7 comments:

  1. Your blog explaining all the main points very awesomely. Thanks for sharing this knowledgeable post.
    Drawer Runner

    ReplyDelete
  2. I just hiked Langley a few days ago. I have climbed it once in the past. The new Carin's , while visible, are not obvious as to how you get to them. I finally waited some time until someone showed up who knew the cracks in the rock pile to climb through. If you have it you should publish pics at the point where one has to scramble up the to the big Carin above the rock wall.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks, Brian! You are correct, the final scramble was very tricky to do and sight the next carins.

      Delete
  3. I just hiked Langley a few days ago. I have climbed it once in the past. The new Carin's , while visible, are not obvious as to how you get to them. I finally waited some time until someone showed up who knew the cracks in the rock pile to climb through. If you have it you should publish pics at the point where one has to scramble up the to the big Carin above the rock wall.

    ReplyDelete
  4. I would help you try the app “GPS TOTAL RUN” (for android)
    it’s used by professionals runners
    https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.JavierPar.GPSJP

    ReplyDelete