Ken Point, June 3, 2017

After last week’s tough hike, I joined Jorge and Diana for a longer but much easier hike to Ken Point in the Desert Divide area.

Another long drive to highway 74 took me to the trail head, which starts at the Pacific Crest Trail. Jorge and Diana arrived there around 9:15AM, and shortly after we were our way. Almost immediately we saw beautiful flowering cacti and yuccas. The trail zigzagged through a pretty wooded area with huge boulders and giant yucca plants. After about four miles, the warm weather started to catch up with me, and I had to slow down dramatically. Struggling on for the next mile I caught up with Diana and Jorge at the 5 mile point, where we took a long rest break. After a little while I slowly started feeling a little better, and we continued uphill for the next mile, with great views of Butterfly Peak which we had climbed a few weeks before, to a tall gate. At the gate was a sign that said it was 8 miles to the highway, even though the HPS write-up says it is 6 miles. From the gate, we took a sharp right turn, going up and down two saddles for the next mile or so to a spot where we left the main trail to climb steeply uphill to the summit. By the time we got there, we noticed that this was not the real summit, but that the actual top was a few hundred yards further. After catching my breath for a few minutes we crossed over to the true summit, with a rocky landscape which looked a bit like what you would envision on the moon.

At the summit, my body felt pretty exhausted because of the high temperature, and I was not able to eat much. I only brought Gatorade with me, which was now too warm to enjoy. Once we took some pictures and added some rocks to a large cairn we headed back down the steep slope to the main trail. Just before the saddle we ran into 4 people who were getting ready to climb to the top. Continuing down slowly, I started feeling pretty weak, and my feet were hurting big time. Diana gave me a wet bandana to put around my neck, which did help somewhat. Moving on, we reached the large gate, where we took a sharp left turn and hike back down to the 5 mile point. By the time we got to this point, I was pretty much wiped out, and my feet were yelling at me to stop, stop, stop!! After eating some fruit and crackers, we hit the trail again. With about 2 miles to go, it became very hard to keep going, especially on the short uphill sections. The trail zigzagged slowly downwards through a forested area, which made it impossible to see how much further we had to go. This section of the trail became quite frustrating in my head, but I knew I had no choice to keep going, and after about a half hour of struggling we finally saw our cars, and I knew the misery was over!

Jorge had some cold pepsi’s in his cooler, and I was happy to take one of them off his hands. Together with some chips, I slowly started to feel a little better, especially after washing off some of the salted from my face. Once I was cleaned up a little, I said goodbye to Diana and Jorge, who would be camping nearby. They would join a large HPS group the following day to hike up 2 more peaks in this area.

I drove to Temecula, where I had a big beefy burger with a chocolate malt. Back on the freeway, I had a hard time staying awake, but succeeded in getting home without getting into an accident. That night the heat exhaustion I experienced during the day was catching up with me through very painful cramps and sore feet that had several blisters. This was certainly not what I had expected this hike to be.