Leatherneck Ridge with Lilbitmo!

General Palm Springs area.

Leatherneck Ridge with Lilbitmo!

Postby Ellen » Thu Nov 10, 2011 11:08 am

Howdy All :)

I've wanted to do this hike since reading the trip reports from last year. Lilbitmo (Patrick Moran) generously offered to take me up on Wednesday. The greyhounds did it last Saturday (when I did my first winter C2C) and reported snow at higher elevations. More snow fell last Sunday but we didn't expect a significant increase. Ha, ha.

We got started about 5:30 AM from the lower parking lot at the tram station. Dropped down into some vines, stepped across a stream, then immediately headed UP :twisted: There was evidence of a faint trail. About 700 feet above the tram station, we heard honking then hollering. It was the Craigmeister, sending good thoughts our way.

The sunrise in the desert is always beautiful. Before long, we were on top of one ridge, took a short break, then headed over towards a ridge with a trees on top and rocks below. Once we reached the rocky section, we ran into our first significant bushwhacking. Even though I was wearing pants, long sleeved shirt and gloves, I was sporting blood stains on both forearms after we were through the brushy rock section and heading up through the trees. Took a second short break.

Then things got interesting. The ridge narrowed significantly. Our choices were to head up the middle the rock- and snow-covered ridge and rock climb or traverse around the rocks on either side of the ridge. On the first section, we traversed to the left of the rocks. There was exposure but Lilbitmo picked a safe route (as usual) and before long we were at a saddle.

The next section looked hairy -- steep and rocky with significant exposure on both sides. We traversed on the right side, heading towards a saddle. We did a significant amount of bushwhacking and more blood flowed :roll: We encountered a tricky area in the traverse requiring us to down climb before heading back up to the saddle. Lilbitmo pointed out where he and Sam had stopped on their first attempt of Falls Creek.

Once at the blessed saddle, we were treated to (can you guess?) another rock- and snow-covered section :? Arrgh :evil: We started to traverse and bushwhack on the right side. I felt something stab my left elbow and saw that my shirt was torn and bloodied. Shortly after that, I heard Lilbitmo shout, "Enough! We're going UP!" A large rock had rolled over the back of his hamstring. We headed up but were thwarted by a rock wall, so had to down-climb again, this time through snow. Lilbitmo was very patient and encouraging (he is a saint). I backed my way downhill, kicking in each step and holding onto rocks, brush and anything else that didn't move. It was great to be done with THAT and go up again.

We took another break before the final climb. While I inhaled baked chips and cheese, Lilbitmo made work-related phone calls :twisted: This guy is incredible 8) The final section involved going up to the left of a knob, a short drop to a saddle, then a very steep climb. We started by traversing to the left of the knob. I hate traversing in snow, especially to the left, since this places my gimpy ankle on the downhill slope. At last we reached the final saddle. The wind was blowing, we were in shade and wet almost up to our knees from the snow. We stopped briefly to quickly don clothing and dry gloves before the last, steep section.

Lilbitmo lead the way, postholing and switchbacking up the arduous climb. I followed in his footsteps, literally. This was an absolutely beautiful, grinding slog -- what I live for -- huffing and puffing uphill in snow and pine trees. I started to see blue sky, then a saddle and heard Lilbitmo screaming gloriously "At last!" I topped out, lo and behold, we were in Shangri La -- a heavenly sight indeed.

We made our way through a notch, then started dropping down into the little canyon that intersects the main trail. I'll confess that at this point I was a little giddy and felt like a kid stomping downhill in new snow. The main trail was very icy -- glad I had on microspikes. The cement switchbacks felt easy after what we'd accomplished. I had a celebratory Stone IPA while we waited to go down and texted family and friends. Tram Tim came down the steps to greet us and said, "Craig will be able to sleep tonight now that you {meaning me, not Lilbitmo} are here" :lol: We completed the day with a great meal at Las Casuelas.

Observations on the day:

I was only able to do this due to Saint Lilbitmo's guidance, patience, and encouragement. Getting up the route is a challenge in and of itself, but taking someone else up is even more of an accomplishment. I'm sure Lilbitmo could have completed the trek several hours faster. This day was an incredible gift -- thank you so much :)

Miles of smiles,
Ellen
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Postby Hikin_Jim » Thu Nov 10, 2011 11:48 am

With Ellen, hiking is typically a blood sport. :lol:

GOOD JOB! That sounds like one tough XC route. VERY exciting that you did it! Congratulations on a major accomplishment.

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Postby bluerail » Thu Nov 10, 2011 1:03 pm

Nice job you guys....I know that blast we got on Sunday had to double the snow that we had the week before, and you guys got outta there quicker...see, we'te no greyhounds..beautiful area...I love the big oak right at the beginning of the row of big pines
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Postby lilbitmo » Thu Nov 10, 2011 1:28 pm

It was my pleasure to take you on this route Ellen, anyday in the mountains for me is a fun day.

Here's some of the highlights.

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First Good View looking back down at the Valley Station of the Tram.

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Sky and colors are setting up for a great day

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We finally catch up to Speedy Gumby, he's actually leading this route

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In the Pines now, my favorite area

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Da pain sister AKA Bloody Blond coming up behind me

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The northeast face of Miller with San J in the back

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Gumby pointing out that he's found another one of those cairns that the world famous climbers Steve and Fern left for him to follow :D

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Ellen smiling as we reach the traverse - that smile will fade for a little while the Traverse is a "Biatchhhhh"

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Gumby and his keen abilities to find lost or dropped stuff wants to know who dropped this, come on fess up

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The second happiest person in the world at that moment (arriving on the top of the ridge into Shangri La) - the first being the Gumby who lead the route, he was tired from leading up the last 800 feet and post holing the whole way :D

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The only wildlife we could find was this "Cougar" outside it's cougar cave

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Ellen giving Gumby a kiss of thanks for leading the route as he found the final sign before the Tram - we made it

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Is anyone shocked at this picture, I'm not (see below) she has competition now :D :shock:

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I fought the rocks and the rocks won

Had a great day, rest of picture can be foundHere
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Postby Ellen » Thu Nov 10, 2011 1:33 pm

Howdy Speedy Steve :)

Thanks buddy 8)

I beg to differ, but you're definately a greyhound :twisted: As proof -- you and InFerno did Skyline the Sunday after doing the Leatherneck Ridge :shock: I am perfectly happy resting today.

Looking forward to following your snowshoe tracks soon :D

Miles of smiles,
Ellen
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Postby Hikin_Jim » Thu Nov 10, 2011 1:36 pm

OK, yeah, I guess you could call that steep. :shock:

Dang, you guys deserve a Purple Heart for that one.

HJ[/img]
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Postby Ellen » Thu Nov 10, 2011 1:40 pm

Howdy Saint Lilbitmo :)

Love the pictures and captions -- thanks so much again for being my guide.

Miles of smiles and bloody hugs,
Ellen
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Postby bluerail » Thu Nov 10, 2011 2:04 pm

World famous? Seriously ?..hacks at best. Nice pics, what's a day without a little blood anyway...
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Postby Andy » Thu Nov 10, 2011 6:12 pm

Truly awesome you guys! Thanks for the great pics too Patrick, glad Gumby didn't let you down. I especially like the transition zones between the desert regions and the pines...very nice!
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Postby bluerail » Thu Nov 10, 2011 8:20 pm

...and gumbys a freeloading parasite.
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