I was itching to get out. The kind where you really think your head will blow up if you don't. Between busting my good hiking shoes and moving into a new place, I hadn't been hiking in over a month. I needed to get out like fish need water.
I'd also been spending time with a dog (with the intention of adopting), and I wanted to get her out hiking to see how she does. After considering a few mountains, I settled on Delano Peak, thinking it'd be an appropriate hike for both the dog and my hadn't-hiked-in-a-month ass.
Got a little mixed up in driving there, as we were headed in from the east side (rather than I-15 on the west), and I took a wrong fork somewhere in the Fishlake National Forest gravel maze, but eventually T-boned with 153 (which I thought we were on!), and within a few minutes, we had arrived. I kept driving down Big John Flat Road (passing ridiculous amounts of ATVs), and even though I have a little car, it managed just fine to Poison Creek. Crossing Poison Creek was another story though. I know I could have, but there were two or three rocks in there that I just didn't trust... and I didn't want to bother moving them. Luckily, little car is good, because I was able to turn around (on a very tight one-lane road... in three points!). I backtracked less than a quarter mile to where there was a great little spot and I parked there.
Haley (dog) and I walked back up the road to Poison Creek and then started our hike up. I was ridiculously sluggish from the very get-go though (even a few feet from the car) and assumed a month off did more damage than I thought. I later realized it was much, much harder for me than it should have been (even after a month off), and after many loopy mis-steps, I figured out that it was likely the altitude affecting me. I haven't hiked this high in several months, and while I've never thought of elevation affecting me, I guess maybe it does. Because that hike, which the distance and elevation change would hardly give me a sweat at any other location, was pretty rough on me. Haley was unfazed though and kept me going (she's a keeper!).
We finally got near the top, and even though I knew there was a false summit, I guess I forgot, because we scrambled up some very loose, very miserable scree, to the false summit. And it was totally unnecessary. Once on top, I could see the mailbox off to the left, at the real summit, and we headed that way... which was finally a nice, pretty flat walk. It was still quite warm, even at the summit, but after a couple minutes, the breeze definitely forced me to put on long sleeves. It was very windy up there, but with temps around 100 in the valleys below, it was still fairly warm.
Unfortunately, we didn't see any mountain goats anywhere. The closest we got to seeing them was the hair they left on the ground (which the dog desperately wanted to eat). We did see several deer bounding across the meadows on the lower portion of the mountain. Haley served as my wildlife spotter. She could spot anything from a mile away. She would stop and not move, and I would get my camera ready for the critter (which I could never see until long after she spotted them).
She loved romping through the grass. Where we live, it's mainly a lot of sand. Delano was full of rolling green hills (actually, it's kind of one big green hill itself), with huge fields of flowers. It's not really what you expect to see at over 12,000 feet. The view from the top is amazing, mostly in that it is so different.
When the wind got to be too much at the summit, we started our descent. Clouds began rolling in, and if it took as long to get down as it did to get up, I wanted to get moving. We made it back to the car around 6 p.m. (and all the ATVers seemed to be off the road by then), and an exhausted Haley went to sleep as I drove off into the sunset, quite proud of the peak-bagging pup on her very first alpine adventure.
"So I was sitting in my cubicle today, and I realized, ever since I started working, every single day of my life has been worse than the day before it. So that means that every single day that you see me, that's on the worst day of my life."
--Peter Gibbons (Office Space)