Thursday, July 31, 2008
So today I inducted two new recruits into my hiking adventures. Zara and Tina are from Taiwan and work with me at Longmire. Today was their first hiking experience ever. We hiked the Lakes Trail to Reflection Lake around to Faraway Rock, over the river and through the woods, back to Paradise, for a good 5 mile hike. That totals me up to 75 miles of hiking so far this summer. I dubbed the girls the Taiwanese Warrior Snow Bunnies. We did battle with 5 ariel soldier Gray Jays who were dive bombing us to get our pb&j sandwiches. They would slam on the brakes mid flight, wings extended out, about six inches from my face, twisting their feathered bodies back to the pine tree where we were sitting, only to have their wing man perform the same maneuver. I encouraged Tina and Zara to take my hiking poles and swing them wildly at the birds to ward of the attacks. The girls took on this task with vigor. Actually, Tina came within inches of knocking one right out of the sky. We finally had to retreat from the relentless attacks. Our journey continued through what I like to refer to as the Desert of Snow. We marched over a blanket of snow for a good two miles, losing the trail, finding the trail, losing the trail. Tina fell about a dozen times and we had a good laugh each time. I stopped to make a snow angel. Just to remind you it is July 31.
Monday, July 21, 2008
"The Road to Paradise isn't always a Road" is printed on the back of one of the T-shirts I sell at the gift shop. Saturday afternoon, after a long day of catering to the tourists, I opted for the road less traveled and hiked my way home from Longmire to Paradise. It is a lazy 6 mile hike UP the infamous Wonderland trail with a gain of 2,800 feet. The last 1/2 mile was steep and through snow. Aaahhh snow, it seems I will be enjoying a 12 month run of snow this year. However, the flowers are in bloom along the roadside and throughout patches of green that are starting to finally appear in the Paradise meadows. Last Wednesday I went to Seattle for a break from the monotony of the mountain with my roommate Christine. We meandered through Pike's Place Market buying fresh Spicy Thai Linguine, pesto bagels and drinking Seattle's java. We camped out that night at a cute, little state park called Dash Point on the Puget Sound about 20 miles south of Seattle. Another satisfying week!
Saturday, July 12, 2008
I AM A ROCK STAR!!! On Wednesday, July 10, 2008, I made my solo hike to Camp Muir at about 10,000 feet. It took about 5 1/2 hours to ascend 4600 feet starting from Paradise. I hiked 2.3 miles to Pebble Creek where I met a nice little chipmunk who was looking for a handout. The last 2.2 miles is a strenuous climb up the Muir snowfield for a 2800 elevation gain. I was very consciously putting one foot in front of the other, toe to heal, practicing the rest step for 3 hours. At about 8600 feet my body just wanted to quit moving but was motivated by a guardian angel and lone hiker, who pointed to a point just beyond and above Anvil Rock (9000 ft). "Camp Muir is just 750 feet over that lip." "Really?" I reply regaining my hope that I may make it after all. Then he qualifies the distance, "750 vertical feet." "Oh, ah damn, I want the bragging rights." My guardian angel promised to keep prodding me along and I left him behind to rest while I, rejuvenated with the promise of an end, continued the steady climb up. The last 750 feet were torturous as Camp Muir came into view. You want to just run to it but you have to continue the slow climb. You look at your feet moving one foot in front of the other to take your mind off how close yet how far away the oasis of Muir is, then you look up hoping that it's closer but when you see the camp, it just looms far away and you are convinced you haven't made any progress at all. Step, rest, step, rest, step, breathe. Don't forget to breathe. Oh my god, I can't breathe. I'm suffocating from the lack of oxygen. My breath is not entering my lungs when I inhale. There is a pain in the center of my chest. I'm going to have a heart attack. Calm down. Breathe, slow inhale, breathe, step, rest, step, rest, step, rest. It was a crazy journey of woman verses the elements and her own sanity. There were moments that I had conscious 3 person internal conversations with Me, Myself and I that struggled between propelling me forward, telling myself to turn around and singing "Follow the Yellowbrick Road" to trick my other two selves into keeping one foot in front of the other. The great thing is that I do get bragging rights because I kicked the mountain's ass. Actually, it was a mutual ass kicking. I am still waiting for my certificate of completion which I guess I don't really get but feel that I should. Of course, I really need to add another 4,410 feet before I can officially claim to conquer the mountain. But, I still deserve props for getting up to 10,000 feet. I ROCK! Definitely the hardest hike I have ever completed! It was another 2 1/2 hours decent. I looked like a drunk, flailing monkey coming down the mountain, slipping and sliding on the snow. I really just wanted to throw myself down onto the snow and roll the whole way down the mountain. That night all my friends and I camped out at Cougar Rock, teaching the girls from Taiwan how to make smore's, singing campfire songs and drinking a well deserved bottle of wine.