To start off, not being able to meet the deadline for this challenge because of my schedule did not stop me from doing this peak. I also only needed to use my asthma inhaler thrice.
Now, about the hike! The wind was brutal, but not as bad on the peak. Weather was in the 30s. There were icicles on the trees, which made Mother Nature even much prettier.
Since it was my first time to hike San Jacinto, I planned on turning around at 2pm whether I reach the peak or not. I didn’t want to hike an unfamiliar trail in the dark. That plan changed after I met Karlis, a 70-year old man while waiting for the tram. He took me under his angel wings and made this hike bearable, enjoyable, and safe! He (1) took me to a trail (Sir Davis) that is not on the map, (2) gave me a “tour” of the park by pointing out the different peaks and fun stories of how the peaks got their names, places we could see throughout the hike, edible plants and the squirrels, landmarks and the number of steps in between them, (3) shared stories of his hikes, (4) patiently waited for me every time I needed a break, which seemed like every 10 steps, (5) took the time to talk to all the hikers we saw on the trails who all seemed to enjoy his stories, genuine warmth and presence, and (6) guided me back safely to the tram, i.e., led me through the dark night while letting me use his extra headlamp because mine was dying. I had extra batteries but how can you say no to Karlis.😊
How and where he gets the energy to hike and do all those (while I could barely breathe and talk), I have no idea. All I know is that my prayers to make it to the peak safely and without getting lost were answered. In fact, I got more than I prayed for.