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? 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 in Ventura, California. Over the years, Jeff has helped Maggie and many others, 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, I’ve arranged for an experienced hiking enthusiast, Cris Hazzard, www.hikingguy.com, to accompany her up the hill. He has done the hike many times, hiked some of the world’s greatest peaks and most of California’s beautiful mountains. Better yet, he enjoys nature as much as Maggie! In addition, we’ll have a Search & Rescue volunteer join the trek just to be sure! Since they’ll be starting in the dark at 1 AM, she will need an outstanding guide. They will be joining us in the bar at the top late in the 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 they’ll 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’s 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, 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 she is really 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. And, better yet, Maggie is asking everyone to pledge $1 per foot for four extremely good causes; The EOD Warrior Foundation, The EODWF supports the Explosive Ordnance Disposal (EOD) community and family throughout the four major military services; Ventura County Search & Rescue; Children with Mental Illnesses and one additional charity to be named later. Everyone, that’s 10,300 feet. Whether you donate $1 or $1,000, it all goes to very worthy causes. Just go to https://www.gofundme.com/cactus-to-the-clouds-for-charity and let’s break the altitude barrier for these great organizations even though Maggie stops climbing at 10,300!!.
Plan to be in Palm Springs on Saturday and join me and a bunch of others at the top of the tram, sitting at the bar to celebrate Maggie’s quest. Our ‘hike’ will certainly be easier than hers!