| Princeton from the bottom of the road
Got together with 2 people from this forum and my good friend James to form a party of four for this hike. Three of us camped directly above the parking lot of the Mt. Princeton Road. We couldn't see the religious camp below us but could certainly hear them, it sounded like a rock concert down there and it went on forever. It's their territory so I don't care but it's what defined the evening besides a few thunderstorms that I enjoyed in my tent.
I slept so soundly after having hiked Sherman that day off of little sleep. My alarm sounded at 3a.m. and I was amazed at how warm it was then and also that I had actually got enough sleep. Ate a bagel that my friend gave me and then was stupid enough yet again to think that a pop-tart would add some energy.
Bob showed-up right on time from his distant camp site and shortly after, all of us with headlamps, we began hiking from 8,900 ft. at 4a.m. My first calamity to deal with was right away, my headlamp kept falling down from a fixed position on the road to something more like a lighted visor that blinded me. So I had to take it off and carry it in my hand. Next, I was wearing un-breathable windbreaker pants and jacket which made me sweat profusely and drained my energy. I decided right then that I had to buy breathable clothing for future hikes/climbs even though I can't afford anything.
Seems like we saw only one car the whole four miles that we hiked up the road, a carload of girls who were very nice and friendly as we took each other's pictures high up the road next to where they parked.
On the trail finally…the best part of the day by far was traversing the side of Tigger Peak through the talus with the fog line right below us. It was a great setting for an interesting traverse. The only obstruction on this long section was some snow near the end where you didn't have to pay strict attention to crossing, just a little bit of caution. Picking your lines of where to step was fun through this section, really easy.
After some short switchbacks to the saddle we stopped at fueled up after five miles of hiking. I had never been above so many clouds before, that was fascinating. I watched Anthony eat a sandwich that I wish I had brought for proper fueling because I realized at that point, that I had not planned appropriately for food for such a long hike. I didn't want to sit there forever trying to eat enough trail mix and energy bars to fill me up because I was really hungry. So I ate quick and hoped I had enough energy to summit in a timely fashion.
Next was another long traverse across talus but this was opposite of the first because it wasn't fun. There's not much of a trail through this section so you end up stepping in strange angles to progress. Even on the faint trail each of us had occasions where boulders bigger than a man would slide underneath your feet. Wending our way through this section took time but once through it, it was straight up to the summit from there and about 1/3 of the way up is where I paid the price for not bringing the right food. I was so sick of energy bars at this point that I couldn't even take another bite. The long, steep and direct final ascent also was no fun at all. Lots of dirt and some loose rocks made for an energy-draining end. I was really struggling at this point and my party had already summited. My biggest problem was trying to get that sandwich out of my mind that Anthony ate. I forced my way up, burning lean muscle-mass as James put it, and by the time a dude passing me said we were at 14,000 ft. I got new motivation and used my remaining energy to hurry up to the false summit, then scurry to the real one, running at the very end to the precipice!
There were more dogs up there than people it seemed, so that was cool. I love dogs. What stunk for me was that my party had already eaten up there and was waiting for me. I concentrated mostly on eating and thinking about the things I need to buy for my next hike so the view hardly stuck in my mind (unlike the hike from the day before). The way down was exactly how it was going up, the dirt sections were no fun as was the un-identifiable trail on the high talus section, but then everything after that was. The four miles down the road was tolerable. What made it easier was a nice couple at their camp who supplied each of us with a beer halfway down, that boosted all of our spirits and re-fueled the conversation. Thank you once more for that, if you read this.
In the end, we were all proud of summiting Princeton the 'honorable' way as I put it, almost 14 miles round trip and what, about 5,300 vertical ft? Most of the thoughts also gravitated towards never doing anything like this again! I know I will have to again though to attain other summits so it's time to spend money on being properly outfitted!