Stranded In The Southland

Saturday, September 10, 2005

Lily Rock and Suicide Rock

I headed out Thursday morning for an uncharacteristicly late hiking rendevous -- 10 AM. My prayers were answered! I guess I understand why everybody gets up so early to hike -- the air is cooler, the weather more predictable, fewer people are out, you can be sure to get done before dark -- but that doesn't mean I have to like it. Sleeping in, now that's what I like.

In any case, this was a chance to hike with some leaders I enjoy, and pick off Lily Rock, what looked like an easy, three-mile hike out near Mt. San Jacinto. I managed to get to the ranger station in Idyllwild on time after a vigorous run through the twisties on CA 243. I talked the group into taking on Suicide Rock as well, which is a two-mile hike that starts a few hundred yards from the trailhead for Lily Rock.

The idea was to take a short on-trail hike to a gully, then take a use trail up the gully, then finally proceed across some simple Class 3 rock to the summit of Lily Rock. There were five of us, total.

It turned out to be a bit tougher than it looked. The gully was fairly steep and the ground a bit slippery and the published description of the hike suggested a slow pace, we didn't get to the summit block 'til nearly 2PM.

I'd brought along my 5-10 approach shoes, just for the heck of it, and donned them for the final scramble to the summit. They weren't really necessary, but since I had them, I figured I might as well use them. There was one short bit with a little bit of exposure, but even that probably wouldn't have resulted in much of a fall, so the scramble was just right -- a little bit of challenge without that gut-wrenching "What if I slip" feeling.

We scrambled back down, ate lunch, and made a leisurely descent. It was nearly 4PM by the time we made it back to the trail, at which point only one other person was up for Suicide Rock, which was okay by me.

It turned out, luckily for me, that Lily Rock was much tougher than Suicide Rock. Suicide Rock involved another tough slog up a gully, but nothing nearly as tough as Lily.

The other guy who was interested in bagging it is probably the most experienced hiker in HPS, a guy who has done the list nine times. I just had to follow him up as a path he knew pretty well, so there wasn't too much trouble with routefinding.

We took a fairly creative route down, scrambling over a variety of rocks, but made it in plenty of time before dark. I was delighted to have had company -- it would've been tough to make the hike without some guidance.

All in all, it was a great day, even if it lasted a bit longer than I'd planned. I had to call my sweetie from the road to let her know I was okay. I'd figured I'd've polished off Lily in just a couple hours, so coming home well after dark was a bit of a surprise. Oh, well, sooner or later I'm going to mis-estimate things, or go with a really confused leader or group, and wind up bivouacing outside for the night. Hopefully everybody won't freak out too much about it when it happens.