Nomadix sits down with writer, photographer, & Seasonal Yellowstone National Park Tour Guide Sean Jansen to talk about his journey to summit the highest peak in Southern California & surf Lower Trestles at sunset, all in a day.
When winter hits, Sean Jansen is on vacation from his seasonal tour guide position in Yellowstone National Park. Sort of. "In the winter, I am a writer and a photographer full time," Jansen said. He explores the outside world while living in his 2010 Subaru Forester. It wasn't a financial need to live out of the car, but a lifestyle choice. Living this way has allowed him to write for publications like The North Coast Journal, where he wrote about trekking through the Klamath in Humboldt County and Fly Lords, where he discussed conversation while bikepacking and fly fishing around the Gallatin River.
Sean Jansen & his modified 2010 Subaru with his gear.
On one vacation while chasing swells in Scorpion Bay, he thought about his next project, to work on a conundrum he had been facing in his life. "I love the mountains, I love trail running, backpacking, and fly fishing, but I am born and raised in San Clemente, California, so I also grew up as a toe-headed blonde surfer, so I'm always conflicted about connecting the mountains and the ocean." For Jansen, the idea to go to the highest peak in Southern California, San Gorgonio Peak, at sunrise and then surf at Lower Trestles at sunset in one day seemed like a great way to merge the worlds. "It's 9.4 miles of hiking one way, so 18.8 miles round trip," Jansen said of the hike up the first peak. "Geographically, they are very, very close to one another. They are about an hour and a half drive between the start of the trailhead."
So he got to work, first researching the best times to accomplish this goal. But at 11,499 feet, the San Gorgonio Peak needs some planning. "I saw the window of weather because, at 11,000 feet, it could snow at any time of the year, and then I timed it with a long period of south swell."
When the day finally arrived and a plan in action, Jansen woke up at 1 a.m. at the trailhead in his car. "Which is completely legal by the way," Jansen added with a laugh. "I didn't do anything illegal. I researched everything, I got all my permits in place to make sure I hiked it safely."
Sean Jansen sits amongst the rocks of San Gorgonio Peak.
Jansen hiked the first half of the journey, 9.4 miles, in the dark and cold, reaching the summit four hours later. "I was miserably cold," Jansen added. "I took some photos and had coffee, but I was miserably cold." He ended up wrapping himself with one of the Nomadix towels he brought with him in his pack.
Sean Jansen enjoying the sunrise after a 9.4 mile hike at San Gorgonio Peak.
After enjoying the sunrise and having the entire mountain to himself, Jansen started his descent, another 9.4 miles back down to his car and then the drive through Riverside, San Bernardino, Orange County, and then finally hitting San Clemente. "I walked two more miles if you can believe it, just to get to Lower Trestles because you can't drive right to the parking lot because it is a state park," Jansen added.
After a 18.8 hike up and down San Gorgonio and a 2 mile hike down to the beach, Sean Jansen enjoys the sunset at Lower Trestles.
But after three hours and one sunset later, he finished his day by getting some Mexican food and almost falling asleep with it on his chest. "So you know, it was ultimately a selfish endeavor," Jansen said. "I wanted to see what I could do. I hadn't seen anyone do something like that, combining their passions into one day, one deal. I just thought it was a really cool idea.”
Follow Sean Jansen on Instagram @jansen_journals.
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