Friday, May 14, 2010

Snow-Capped Talon

I mentioned in my last post how clear the air was that Saturday during the March ARB open house. This shot of a Whiteman AFB T-38A Talon proves it. The beautiful snow-capped San Bernardino Mountains loom in the distance behind Northrop's classically sleek and glossy-gray trainer.

Usually the smog from Los Angeles chokes the Inland Empire where March ARB sits and you can't see diddly but brown haze. But not that day. The angle is to the Northeast from the ramp at March, in Riverside, looking towards Big Bear and Mt. San Gorgonio.

I had a couple of adventures as a boy scout trying to climb San Gorgonio, which at 11,499 feet, is pretty tall if you're coming from near sea level in Redondo Beach, where I was living at the time. Unfortunately, both of them involved cramps and nausea, so I never actually made it to the top. The guys that did said it was pretty rugged. I'm just as glad I stopped at Dollar Lake.

That's one of the things I love about Southern California, though: you can surf in the ocean in the morning and two or three hours later ski at 8,000 feet or climb to 11,000 feet or more. Not that I ever surfed or skied, but you could if you wanted to. Regardless, that's a dramatic elevation change, equal to or greater than the one from Colorado Springs to the top of Pike's Peak. Of course, you're starting at about 6,500 feet at Colorado Springs, so that would make breathing at the top of Pike's Peak - at 14,115 feet - a bit interesting for us sea-level dwellers. Still, the elevation differential is greater here than in Colorado.

One of these days we'll have to go up to the top of Pike's Peak on the cog rail from Manitou Springs. It looks like fun.

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