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Escape the heat with Elevation

Illustration for article titled Escape the heat with Elevation
Image: WWD

This Labor Day weekend was one for the record books as far as temperature goes in Southern California. On Sunday, a temperature of 118F was recorded in Los Angeles. This is generally considered a time to stay home and chill and ride it out. As an avid hiker and outdoorsperson as well as a person with no AC at home, I set my sights on escaping the heat in any way possible. Well any way other than spending a boatload of cash on an air conditioned hotel room and some cold drinks...

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Image: WWD

Anyways, the weekend started with destination #1 on Thursday night being Mammoth Lakes, situated at 7800 feet of elevation. I was only able to get one night at the campground due to the holiday weekend and my traditional last minute planning. But it was in the 50s Friday when I woke up and up on the mountain for lift served biking, it never got above 80, even less at the top at 11,000 feet.

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Destination #2 brought me to just outside Lone Pine in the Alabama Hills where I camped out at a much lower elevation of around 4500 feet. Here is was quite a bit warmer with a day time high of 106 but the overnight low still got down to 70 so it was plenty sleepable after about 2300.

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The camp in Alabama Hills though set me up for the next day on Saturday where I went for high elevation again to beat the heat. I went up to Whitney Portal and hiked the Meysan Lakes Trail up to 11,500 feet. This was a 10 mile hike with about 4000 feet of elevation gain. I went through 6L of water, including 3L of that enhanced with liquid iv. Was damn near cold at the top so it was perfect weather for that hike. Here are some pics from that adventure:

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I went home Saturday night and faced the brunt of the heatwave head on. I really needed a shower and a good meal at home. Plus I didnt even pack any extra clothes so it was time to go. With my fans and swamp cooler blowing directly on me all night, it was fine. One of the other guys in the house, his room was 95F at midnight so my ~82 was downright pleasant in comparison I guess! But there was no way I was dealing with that for a second night in a row. So after enjoying the morning at home before it got too hot in the house, I then packed up and headed out again without a plan.

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I ended up on a 3 hour long drive which included the 150 from Santa Paula to Ojai, the 33 from Ojai north to Lockwood Valley, and then Lockwood Valley rd up to Mt Pinos, the tallest peak in my county of Ventura. I had no idea if I would get a campsite but I figured the 8000ft of elevation up there would be cooler and at least I could watch the stars before slogging it home late.

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I was in luck though and found an available walk in campsite! If I had a telescope and a decent camera for that sort of thing, I could have had some amazing astronomy photos to insert here. But you can use your imagination I guess. For a “sub-par” night with poor visibility due to a bright moon coming up around 2200 and forest fire smoke in the air, it was still truly spectacular. I also did the whole campfire thing and enjoyed a night in the woods again.

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Visibility in the morning was a bit shit when I hiked to the peak. The air heavy with smoke but at least it was decently cool. I also found out my campground had no water and there was none on the whole mountain as well. Either way a good adventure that I will be sure to repeat again soon, but will pack more water next time! Those roads, while haphazardly bumpy and a bit sketch, were great fun though. That alone made it worth the trip. I may have preferred my Miata but then again my coilovers would have been painful and the lack of AC and roof to block the sun might have killed me.

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I doubt my aging turbo enjoyed the heat very much but no issues at all during all of the driving. It was a solid ~20 hours of driving time added up from Thursday to Monday with most of it in 100+ degree weather with the AC cranking. Saw plenty of cars on the side of the road with obvious cooling problems so its nice to have a well maintained vehicle at this time! I could probably go for an intercooler upgrade even for street driving but really thats just a reliability insurance/peace of mind thing.

Anyways, back to the grind tomorrow! Until the next trip.

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