There was a time when I would take a walk in Maggie’s shoes…..but NOT this time. A few weeks ago, while in Palm Springs, we took the tram to the top of the mountain, well, not quite, just 8500 feet. She looked down and said, “There’s a trail down there. I could hike up here!” So, the next thing that happens is I’m looking for a way to make it happen.
It’s called Cactus to the Clouds and on October 7, she is going to do it. She needs the best chance for success, so she is working with Jeff Wilson, her physical therapist. Over the years, Jeff has helped Maggie avoid surgery and prepare for the kinds of outdoor activity Maggie dearly loves. She said, “Jeff understands how the body can repair itself (without surgery) when we make mechanical corrections and utilize proper training techniques.”
Also, since they’ll be starting in the dark at 2 AM, in the dark, she will need some navigational assistance, so I’ve arranged for an experienced hiking enthusiast to accompany her up the hill. In addition, we’ll have two very accomplished Ventura County (Upper Ojai) Search & Rescue volunteers joining the trek just to be sure! All of them should be arriving at the top of San Jacinto Peak in the early afternoon!
A little about this event…..First, you have to train like you’re running a marathon. It’s hot, steep, and will take 12-14 hours. You must be committed. After the first 2-3 miles, there is no turning back. It’s a furnace down there; which is why we leave early under the cover of darkness and lower temps. So, I’m pretty sure none of you are going to volunteer to accompany her.
Google Cactus to the Clouds and you’ll find it is an epic day hike that starts in the desert near sea level at 500 feet, and ends on top of Mt. San Jacinto at 10834'. A lot has been written about this hike and Backpacker Magazine ranked the full Cactus to Clouds as the 5th toughest day hike in America. With a net elevation gain of 10,300 feet, it has the greatest elevation increase of any day-hike route in the United States. And, it gains the altitude in only 14 miles, also making it one of the steeper trails of its length in the world. Also known as the Skyline Trail, it climbs 7,900 feet from the desert to Long Valley where it joins with the main trail to gain another 2,400 feet to the summit. The trail is ten miles to the tram in Long Valley or twenty miles to San Jacinto Peak and back down to the tram.
Now I’m sure you’re asking “Why in the wide, wide world would she be this crazy?” Well, most of you know Maggie, so that’s self-evident, but really, she is dedicating the hike to her daughter Nina. Maggie has spent her life committing to her goals, dedicated every breath to achieving them and wants this hike to be her gift to Nina who, herself, has become a model of independence and achievement. Also, Maggie is asking everyone to pledge $1 per foot for two extremely good causes; EOD Warrior Foundation whose mission is to disarm challenges for the EOD (Explosive Ordnance Disposal) community within the four branches of service, Looking Beyond LA for children with special needs, the OMID Foundation which assists disadvantaged women, and of course the brave Ventura County Upper Ojai Search & Rescue volunteers that come to our rescue.
Everyone, that’s 10,300 feet. Whether you donate $1 or $1,000, it all goes to very worthy causes. But, we want to raise even more with everyone's support. Just go to the following link, https://www.gofundme.com/cactus-to-the-clouds-for-charity. Let’s break the altitude barrier for these great organizations.
Plan to be in Palm Springs on Saturday and meet me and a bunch of others at the top of the tram, sitting at the bar to celebrate Maggie’s quest. when they arrive. Our ‘hike’ will certainly be easier. Thanks, Steve and of course; From the Heart, Maggie Garemani