FKT: Brett Maune - So Cal Triple Crown (CA) - 2015-03-10

Route variation
"hard" version
Gender category
Finish date
Total time
18h 59m 54s

i better write the TR while I still have the FKT for another hour or so! I did this trip as soon as I could after the last snow storm rolled through and dumped a bunch of snow on the mountains. I went into this thinking I would be snow shoeing for ~20 miles and that the trip would be an epic. It turns out I never used the snow shoes. Enough people had climbed all the peaks after the snow storm to make decent trails for the most part.

C2C2C is always an interesting trip. The forecast called for above freezing temperatures everywhere on the mountain, even at night. Needless to say I was surprised to encounter some shady frozen ground not far past Flat Rock. The summit plateau area was much colder. There were some areas that I'd guess were in the mid-twenties. My hands became numb and I began to worry about frostbite. Finally, though, the feeling started to return (with a throbbing pain) before I was forced to put on more clothes. Just a few hours later I would be descending into the Palm Springs inferno and would be thinking about dehydration and heat stroke. Such is the awesomeness of C2C2C! I was happy with my ascent time given I was carrying snow shoes and a large pack, which was necessary to provide enough real estate to secure the snow shoes. From the summit of Jacinto I was disappointed by how little snow there appeared on the other two summits. I decided to leave the snow shoes behind for the other two mountains but I was stuck with the large pack since it was the only one I brought. The descent was exciting as usual for me. My favorite part is the descent from Grubb's Notch. As you approach the notch, you are running along on flat terrain and then the ground seems to just suddenly fall away. You get a kind of free fall sensation as you bomb down the mountainside. When this is done on snow with microspikes it is a real joy! Shortly after taking off the microspikes I fell on an icy patch, which I thought was just melting snow. I landed hard but fortunately wasn't hurt. A few minutes later I was impaled by a branch. After a bit of a lull in the excitement, the cactus strikes then began. I ended up smacking two and had a glancing blow with a third. When I smacked the second cactus I immediately looked down to survey the damage and then promptly tripped on a rock and fell hard for a second time. The impact knocked my glasses off which was disconcerting. Again I was somehow not seriously injured. This was the third or fourth time I have descended Skyline and definitely was the most damaging. I don't know what happened. Perhaps the added pack weight decreased agility. Perhaps it was just bad luck.

In any case, I eventually made it to Palm Springs and over to Vivian Creek TH. I received some strange looks as I got out of the car to start running. I suppose it is an unusual sight to see someone start a hike already bloodied. Gorgonio was pretty uneventful until I got to the summit ridge. My gamble of leaving the snow shoes so far had paid off but now the trail consisted of deep boot prints in crusty snow, which was pretty slow going. As I neared the final turn to the summit I decided to take a more direct path than the dominant trail. Soon I realized the single pair of boot prints I was following started to go in the wrong direction. I was forced to make my own trail and began the arduous task of post holing back towards the proper trail. The descent back was slow. I wasn't able to start running until I got off the summit ridge due to the poor trail conditions.

On to Baldy. From the summit of Gorgonio I saw that Baldy had virtually no snow and I considered leaving my microspikes behind. Fortunately, prudence won and I brought them. The trail had no snow until the summit ridge. When I encountered the first snow I figured surely it was just a small patch and so resisted putting on the microspikes. Bit by bit I made slow progress on the icy summit plateau all the while thinking the snow was surely about to end. Eventually I reached the summit but it took me an astonishing 51 minutes to do the summit plateau in trail runners. The summit was frigid and windy--in contradiction to the 'warm' and calm forecast. I struggled to put on the microspikes and clothes in the dark while being buffeted by the wind. I slowly started back down the mountain. By this point I had no time objective and proceeded at a relatively leisurely pace. I ended up hiking or jogging the entire descent. When I got to Bear Flats I realized I could sneak under 19 hours if I picked up the pace a bit. In the end I reached the road in 18:59:54.

The splits were:
grubbs 2:47:07
san jacinto summit 4:09:31
palm springs 6:54:43
vivian creek TH 8:11:42
san gorgonio 11:09:48
vivian creek TH 12:56:21
bear flats TH 14:20:02
mount baldy 17:00:31
bear flats TH 18:59:54
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