The morning started off uncomfortably early at 4 am. Connor and Adam ran about town trying to throw the last bits of logistical planning together. At 5:30 am the guides met the participants outside of Tro Gro. We introduced ourselves and shared a few laughs as we waited for our last and latest participant, Daniel Pinzon, to arrive. Adam got a cup of coffee and a lackluster croissant he would regret almost immediately. While waiting, an interesting thing occurred where a stranger came over and joined our group for a few minutes and introduced himself as Siddhartha. Neither of guides had recalled such a unique name being on the roster, and as it turned out he was supposed to meet another group, but he only realized this after a strong 5 minutes of hanging out with the group. In true SC Outfitters fashion we would have welcomed him into our group. Rule #1 Open Minds and Open Arms.
After a harrowing off-roading experience, we got on the trail by 8:30 and began our hike on the Holy Jim trail towards the summit of Saddleback Mountain. The weather was ideal, a bit overcast for the first bit followed by clear skies and moderate temperatures the whole way to the top. We hiked up switchbacks and through caves carved through thick foliage. We experienced breathtaking vistas of the canyons and eventually could even see Mt. Baldy and Mt. San Jacinto off in the distance. We crossed a couple very small streams and stopped in shady spots for water breaks and snacks. The hike was a strenuous 6 miles long and 4000’ in elevation gain, but even still we arrived at the summit 40 minutes earlier than the guides had planned. Once on top we sat down to rest and to admire the view. We ate a lunch, which consisted of pita sandwiches with chicken, tofurky sausage, salami, humus, cheese, and sundried tomatoes. Sahil ate nearly all of it. After we ate we explored the summit for a little while, took some photos, and decided to head back. 5 miles down we decided to take a small detour to a nearby waterfall. It took just 7 minutes to get there…it was worth it. On the way back we stopped at an In-n-Out to completely offset the calories we burned on our hike…also worth it.