The Eventful, yet Efficient Mt. Woodson Hike
By Ramana Katragadda - June 15, 2009

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Mt. Woodson Trail Map

Background
After a satisfactory completion of Rock 'n' Roll marathon and having rested for almost a week, I recalled Ramana Doppalapudi's (Ramana-D) invitation to join him on his planned Mt. Whitney Hike on August 25, 2009. The same day, noticing Dr. Tripuraneni Prabhakar's (Chief) Facebook profile picture taken on Mt. Whitney summit, I decided to hike Mt. Whitney as soon as possible.

Learning from Ramana-D that Naveen Ravela signed up for the hike, I requested Ramana-D to add my name as well. Per Ramana-D's request I contacted Dattu Inampudi and Dattu accepted to join the Mt. Whitney hike. Chief's cautionary email indicating 30% of the individuals that attempt to hike Mt. Whitney don't reach the Summit forced me to identify a training plan and execute it.

Dattu, Naveen, Ramana-D and I decided to kick start the training by hiking the 17.3 miles Mt. Woodson trail as segmented below:

  • Blue Sky Reserve Parking Lot to Lake Ramona
  • Lake Ramona to Lake Poway
  • Lake Poway to Mt. Woodson Summit
  • Mt. Woodson Summit to Route 67
  • Route 67 to Mt. Woodson Summit
  • Mt. Woodson Summit to Lake Poway
  • Lake Poway to Blue Sky Reserve Parking Lot
Having hiked this trail for over three years, our goal this time was to beat the 5:34 hours finish time established jointly by Chief and myself, two months ago. Coordinated the start time to be 6:00 AM at Blue Sky Reserve Parking Lot, 16275 Espola Road, Poway, CA 92064.

The Hike
Even though, yesterday's Mt. Woodson hike was full of events from start to finish, it was the most efficient hike I experienced to date. Find below my recollection of the memorable experience:

  1. At 5:00 AM, Dattu and I exchange wakeup calls.

  2. At 5:10 AM, Naveen reportedly requests Dattu to bring a pair of Dattu's old shoes for him.

  3. At 5:40 AM, Dattu, Naveen and I depart from the new San Marcos shopping complex and reach Blue Sky Reserve Parking Lot by 5:57 AM.

  4. Naveen struggles to squeeze his huge feet in Dattu's old HIKING BOOTS and comments, "I am booked, today".

  5. Ramana-D arrives the parking lot at 6:07 AM (apparently, he had a difficulty in locating the parking lot). He show cases his $100 hiking backpack.

  6. We begin the hike at approximately 6:09 AM.

  7. I respond to Ramana-D's comment on the reason for a sudden increase in pace, as, I decided to fill in Chief's role.

  8. Naveen with a continuous jog and myself with a moderate brisk walk reach Lake Ramona in 37 minutes followed by Dattu in 39 minutes and Ramana-D in 41 minutes. After 5, 3 and 1 minues break for each party, we descend Lake Ramona. Naveen reportedly struggles to descend Lake Ramona with his squeezed feet in those darn mini HIKING BOOTS.

  9. Dattu and I rest for atleast 6 minutes at Lake Poway junction waiting for Naveen and Ramana-D. As Naveen couldn't bear the squeeze any long, he and I swap shoes and BOOTS. Naveen squeezes his huge feet in my shoes and begins the hike to the summit.

  10. Dattu takes off while I listen to Ramana-D's grand father's marital and entrepreneurial stories while uncomfortably lugging those darn HIKING BOOTS each step. Naveen warns both Ramana-D and I to stop talking to conserve energy and increase the stride.

  11. I gaze Dattu being at least 0.5 miles ahead and request Naveen to catch up with Dattu, as I couldn't accept someone leading that far ahead. I increase my stride ditching Ramana-D and notice Naveen struggling to catch up with Dattu.

  12. Dattu reaches the most significant landmark, 'The Tree' followed by Naveen within a minute and a half and myself probably between 3 to 4 minutes. We wait for Ramana-D at the Tree. We relish the Dates Ramana-D brought, remembering Chief's generosity in sharing water with Dange Garu, trail mix with others and etc.

  13. By realizing, the darn HIKING BOOTS slowed me significantly, Naveen manages to pull a fast one on Dattu by suggesting that Dattu and I should swap our shoes as my shoes are a little better for Naveen's huge feet over Dattu's shoes. The shoes exchange occurs and I thank God for His intervention. Naveen, in his usual manner insists Ramana-D to allow him carry the backpack.

  14. The journey to the summit begins with Dattu leading, Naveen with the backpack complaining on how uncomfortable the darn thing is for even a fast paced walk while failing to catch Dattu. Myself in step lock with Naveen and Ramana-D pushes, yet, at least a minute behind the pack.

  15. Dattu waits for at least a minute and a half for Naveen and me at the summit. We notice 3 hours elapsed since we left the Parking Lot. Enyoing the cool climate we three decide to complete the remaining hike under two hours. Ignoring Naveen's hesitation, I suggest to move forward to Route 67 without waiting for Ramana-D with the notion that we will run into Ramana-D on our return. Dattu and I begin the descent to Route 67 leaving Naveen at the Summit.

  16. I wait for Dattu for at least two and a half minutes at Route 67 and we both begin hiking to the Summit after Dattu rests for a minute.

  17. On my return to the Summit from Route 67, I notice Ramana-D watching Naveen who was laying down on the ground inspecting his blistered foot near the water tank. I lecture Naveen for a minute and suggest Ramana-D to return to the Summit with me.

  18. Dattu reaches the summit 3 minutes after me and two minutes later, Naveen and Ramana-D reach the Summit.

  19. Dattu and I decide to finish the rest of the course under 5 hours (I recall the remaining time to be 50 minutes) and begin hustling down. Reportedly, Naveen takes off his shoes and descends the mountain in his socks seeking relief from his blistered foot.

  20. Taking the lead, I turn right in stead of turning left at an intersection and I continue down the hill for two minutes. Realizing I missed the path, I call Dattu loud for five times. Hearing no response, I return back to the trail and find Dattu resting at the Tree. I hustle him down

  21. I continue the run, rest for a minute at Lake Poway, reach the Iron Gate at 11:08 AM and the parking lot at 11:09 AM (5:00 or 5:01 hours round trip)

  22. Dattu running the most part in his HIKING BOOTS reaches the parking lot at 11:26 AM (5:17 or 5:18 hours round trip), an amazing feat, indeed. I notice Dattu's blistered foot as he stares at it.

  23. Naveen and Ramana-D return to the parking lot with Naveen hand carrying my shoes and his socks soiled in orange color on his feet at 11:54 AM (5:45 or 5:46 hours round trip less the round trip distance from the tank to Route 67). Reportedly Ramana-D and Naveen ran a portion on their return trip as well. Running on a bare foot? Hmmm... worse than running in the HIKING BOOTS.

Conclusion
Despite those darn mini HIKING BOOTS, Ramana-D's new hiking tall backpack, Dattu and I running on uncomfortable shoes, Naveen with squeezed feet two thirds of the hike and bare foot for the rest, compounded by Dattu's and Naveen's blistered feet, I believe we raised the bar. We intend to improve further before we take on Mt. Whitney, on August 25, 2009.


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