It's been a while since I've hiked The Suffer Machine without adding some other peak to the day. My wife Ruth is getting pretty good on the trail but hasn't done a day quite like this, and I figured it'd be a good test piece. We were met by Cliff Griffiths, a long time friend of this blog, who hasn't had the summer he would have liked on account of somebody else's poor planning. This was his first real opportunity to stretch his legs in months. We started walking at 06:00.
We couldn't have picked a nicer day for this sixteen mile meat grinder. The day started clear and cool, chilly almost. We didn't feel the sun until about five minutes above White Ledge camp, and after that the temperature rose steadily. The entire day felt nice, warm, with a cooling breeze. We paced the long uphill out, summiting shortly after 10. Not bad at all for Ruth's first run up this thing. She just hiked it, and at one point I even heard her saying one of my mantras for a grinding uphill, "Burn baby, burn...". This hike is most definitely a burn. Cliff stepped aside a bit below the summit and, with a gentlemanly gesture, let Ruth by so she could take us over the top.
|Ruthie, first time up Topa!|
|Cliff Griffiths and I on top.|
We spent an hour on top. It was a great day for sightseeing. All the islands were visible, including Catalina. I took Ruth on a tour of the summit and pointed out many of the major SLP landmarks. Eventually it was time to lace the shoes tight over the arch, harness up, and head down. Down, down, down every damn step we walked up. My left knee doesn't much like this downhill.
I gotta say, that after the summer I've had, it was kind of refreshing to just spend a day on an honest-to-dog trail. And Ruth earned that cold beer. She tough.