|Peak Summited||2021 Sitton Peak|
|Type of Hike||Day hike|
|Road Conditions||Road suitable for all vehicles|
|Bug Status||No bugs|
|Snow Conditions||Snow free|
|Trail Conditions||Trail in good condition|
This was my first Six Pack Peak! I chose this one because it was closest to me. However, I will admit that this hike being one of the easier ones was also a factor in my choosing. Knowing that the other peaks would be tougher and possibly multi-day, I decided to bring a semi-loaded backpack – sleeping and night equipment – in order to get used to the weight. Although I have mediocre hiking experience and I am generally in shape, I have very little overnight backpacking or significant solo experience. Still, I was assuming this to be my warm-up hike before the other five. Allow me to emphasize that it was SUPPOSED to be my warm-up hike.
Halfway up the trail, it became very hot and I did not take enough breaks which led to nausea and mental fog. Even though I had enough water, I was gulping it on the few breaks I took which only made me feel worse. Since it was Friday, there weren't many hikers that I encountered who could have given encouraging words and interactions. I realized three things: a solo hike is very different than a group hike, there was much more incline than I anticipated, and I might not complete this Six Peak challenge. Despite all that dread, I pressed on forcefully, determined to finish the hike no matter how long. Due to constant feelings of defeat, every few minutes up the final hill, which felt like stairs, I had to pause. This was made worse by the fact that I could never see the end. Then finally upon seeing the peak I felt a surge of energy from desperation and ran. Once at the top I shred off my backpack, leaned against a rock, and teared up at the thought that I had actually made it. Looking out across the hills and over the valleys, I proudly yelled out, “I made it!”
All alone, I napped on a long, flat rock before beginning lunch. For practice, I brought a Jet Boil and some dehydrated lunch. For those curious, I had the Mexican Quinoa Bowl by Good To-Go which was flavorful, filling, and vegan! As I read the instructions it occurred to me that I did not bring a spoon to eat this hot bag of food with. Still feeling the high of reaching the peak, I laughed it off and decided that I would just have to eat out of the bag. In the two hours, I stayed at the top, only one couple arrived at the top and stayed for about an hour. Besides them, I had the pleasant lunch company of my neighbors: the bees in the wildflowers to my right, some butterflies that would land in the bush in front of me, and large black birds that were definitely not crows. I had binoculars but they were not needed when the birds would float above my head! At times they flew too close and hovered for too long above me that I began wondering if I was targeted as prey. Now I believe that floating above the highest peak in this forest must the best point of view for food and since I had been laying on the rock for some time, I was not seen as a threat from below. Some of the most interesting lunch companions I have had in a long time.
By the time I felt ready to leave, it was as if I was leaving a home full of inhabitants that graciously welcomed me. On the return trip, I practically ran. All the depression I had felt in the morning which worsened with the difficulty of the start of the hike was completely gone and I was only sad to leave the forest. By the time I reached the end, I had run out of water and desperately craved something refreshing from Ortega's candy shop. There I met Shannon, the owner of the store, who gave me great advice for my next hike such as sipping my water, keeping my mouth moist with hard candy, and finding my rhythm. She then told me personal stories about mistakes she has made on her own hikes over the years. Quickly I learned that in addition to her personal experience in backpacking, she gathered a plethora of advice from the immense amounts of people that go there to hike the Sitton Peak every day! This candy shop is where people buy their parking permits and anything else since it's the only store around. I plan on returning to this hike solely in hopes that I will see her again and hear more of her stories.
When I finally left, I felt accomplished.