Stranded In The Southland

Tuesday, July 19, 2005

Grays Peak, and the Miata Just Isn't Built For Offroad!

I nabbed Grays Peak today, just north of Big Bear Lake. Unfortunately, I had hoped to get Crafts Peak and Butler Peak as well, but the road just didn't cooperate. After making the 75 mile drive up to the area, and managing to make it a couple miles on well-groomed dirt roads, I was stymied by a water hazard.

The road up to Butler Peak (yeah, it's a drive-up) had a huge pool across it, six inches deep. Since my Miata has five inches of clearance, I figured I'd give it a miss this time. I vaguely thought about removing the obstructions at the edge of the pool which were causing the water to pool up, but figured that maybe they were there to reduce erosion or something like that. Bummer.

I turned around and headed back to Grays Peak, which was a fairly easy trek, barring the mutterings of thunder in the distance. After the first sharp bark of thunder I told myself, "Well, I'll wait to see if I hear more." After the second, I though, "Gee, I just drove 75 miles, and that sounds kind of distant and indistinct -- I'll definitely turn around if I hear more." After the third, "Hmmm, that sounds so far away, it can't be a problem."

Well, it wasn't a problem, in retrospect, but I am beginning to see how smart people (am I smart people!?) can make stupid decisions. It is so easy to get caught up in the moment and keep on trucking, even when you shouldn't.

Now, in this case, the clouds were only moderately dark, I didn't see any lightning anywhere, and I met another person heading up to the peak just five minutes after I headed down (and the last entry in the log on top of the peak had been from a week before!). After the third burst of thunder I didn't hear anything more.

I think maybe next time I'll just head down and be safe. It's just been so long since I've heard thunder, living in the Bay Area. In any case, I had a fine hike down, bushwacked back to my car (hitting the road within a 200 or so yards of my parking place) and a fine ride back.

I'm happy to have one more peak (argh, but not three more!). I suspect that my daydreams of getting a hundred within a year were pretty naive, at least for me (although others have certainly done it).