When the going gets tough, the tough gets going. Sometimes I don't know what possesses me. I do know that I like to decompress after trialing and what better way than a little hike. haha
On the way home from the trial Sunday I stopped at my favorite restaurant The Timberhouse. I over heard a couple talking about their hike up Mount Walker. Since it has been on my to do list, I butted in and asked them about it. They said it would take a couple of hours for me to get to the top. They also, said, coming down was way worse than going up. I said, "Well, that sounds doable for me." Lordy, Suzanne. :0)
I got to the trail head late, close to noon. Reason being, the fog had socked our little valley in and I wasn't sure how clear it would be on Mount Walker. But, I did know the temperature was moderate (in the upper 40's, low 50's). That's much better than in the 20's/30's. So, I took care of the chickens at the neighbors, pottied Jet, made sure he had lots of water and left him comfy in the house as I gathered Yoko and Champ for the trek.
I saw about 5-6 cars / trucks at the trail head. Mount Walker is open during the summer to DRIVE up it with a mild hike after you get out of your car at the top. In the winter the road is closed and there is a "strenuous" trail of switchbacks up to the top. I should have thought about that word "STRENUOUS" a little longer. I like to hike, but I'm not really into strenuous. But, of course I overlooked that. I did see it said bring lots of water. I had one bottle of water and a cup to put it in for my dogs along with 3 tangerines. Ready to roll.
I had a sweatshirt on with a rubberized type vest over it with lots of pockets to stuff things in. Not a good idea for a strenuous hike in the low 50's. I must have sweat off 10 pounds going up and down.
About one third of the way up I started questioning myself, "What were you thinking?" Thankfully, Champ and Yoko helped by keeping their brace leash taught almost pulling me along to keep going. The trail started to get steeper after the first third. As the sweat was running down my face, I kept a trucking. I ran into a man coming down about my age. I stopped and asked him, "How far am I from the top?" He said, "You have a few more switchbacks to the half way point." I told him, "Couldn't you have LIED to me?" He said, "I'm not accustomed to doing that." I told him, "This would have been a good time to lie a bit." LOL He told me he just couldn't do it today and stopped at the half way point. Now I'm thinking, well, I'm thinking, 'Not GOOD thoughts.'
Come on guys....PANT....look tired :0(
I continue on looking for the half way point. He told me there was a place you could sit down. I don't see anyplace I can sit down after about 10 more helatious switchbacks. I keep trudging, stopping to catch my breath every 100 feet or less. I'm trying to keep my butt tucked under me to relieve the pressure on my lower back. I keep looking up to see if the tree tops look like they are getting closer. Like I might be nearing the top. Didn't matter, just more and more trees. I see I am level with snow capped mountains on the other side of the Quilcene Valley. I stop to offer the dogs a little water and Yoko and I share one of my tangerines. Champ would have to suffer a low blood sugar since he refused to eat any fruit with us. Stupid Champ. Smart Yoko. Champ, the first half, kept peeing on everything. It was driving me crazy. So I amused myself with goosing him with my walking sick each time he tried to lift his leg. It gave me something to think about other than my pain and he was finally catching on to my game (not so funny in his book).
Then, I heard something. I heard a distinctive 'growl' in one of the tree tops on the trail. Holy shit Batman. Yoko stopped and looked upwards. There were enough cougar signs at the trail head everywhere. I had my walking stick with me. I'm not about to get caught with my pants down again like I did with Champ getting chewed on by the guardian dogs. After that incident, I purchased the perfect hiking companion. With a flip of a switch, my walking stick can deliver 1 million volts. Yes, I said ONE MILLION volts of electricity. A walking stick stun gun :0)
I look up in the trees, only to make myself dizzy. I flip the switch to 'on' and get moving up the trail. I never heard the growl again nor did I see anything. But, I was on my toes (literally)...walking on my toes, leaning forward because of the steepness of the trail. I checked my iPhone (no cellular data) but at least, the time. I had been on the trail for an hour and a half. Surely, I must be getting close to the top.
I finally run into another hiker, a lady about my age, I think. She has walking sticks and looks in much better condition than I. I ask her, "How far am I from the top?" She said, "You are too close to quit now. Maybe a few switchbacks But, it gets a bit steeper." God love her. She LIED, all but the STEEPER part. My type of woman. We had nearly another 30 switchbacks that got steeper and steeper with every step.
Last couple I ran into before nearing the top said, "You are almost there." They could see I was dying on the vine. :0) "But, when you get to the top, be sure to walk the extra half mile to the north so you can see Seattle and Rainier. It will be way worth it." I thanked them and was secretly thinking, SCREW that. LOL
FINALLY, I could see light at the end of the tunnel. We made it. It took us about two hours plus a little. Felt like we were on top of the world. Yoko, Champ and I shared another little drink plus Yo and I shared another tangerine.
At the top...southern view
Ten minute rest....Not for you guys, but for the old lady.
This was his first time hiking Mount Walker, too. We arrived at the Northern view point and soaked up the quietness, the vastness, and the beauty silently. Then, after giving myself one last sip of water and the mutts the last of it, Yoko and I shared our last tangerine. He laughed. He said, "I didn't know dogs ate fruit." Champ again refused, grabbing the cup of the last few precious sips of water for himself and Yoko throwing it into the air and catching it. Idiot Champ, I'm thinking. Pups will be pups. My new friend was laughing. You could see Seattle clearly, a good portion of the Hood Canal and Mount Rainier in the distance. I had picked a good day for this trek. I had brought little binoculars, but never even took them out of my fanny bag. It was that clear.
Close up zoom...Seattle
Just need poppies instead of water in front of it and it would look like "OZ."
My hiking buddy told me about his spectacular drive on the 101 yesterday with the fog clinging to the land while being still and clear over the Hood Canal. I told him I was coming from the other direction and had to keep pulling off the road to look at the magnificent views. He related that he planned on kayaking from Port Townsend all the way down the Hood Canal. Good on you, I said (with no wanting to do that particular trek) But, he did tell me to stop at the Oyster house by Hamma Hamma next time on the way up. He said he had some fabulous oysters, just seasoned perfectly. Okay then, I WILL do that.
Fog clinging to the landside on the 101
He did tell me that I could save my knees and hike the road down versus the switchbacks. But, it would add an extra half mile, so he was told. Well, hell, not me. I'm not adding an extra half mile. I will go down the trail I came up. Then we parted ways. About 100 feet down the trail I was saying to myself, "What was I THINKING?" I looked at my swollen fingers from the pressure differential, and my tiring legs and kept on going. I stopped, taking the dogs off their brace leash, asking them to follow. They both were wonderful. I only needed to hold my walking stick out in front of Champ a few times to tell him to get behind me on the trail.
I kept looking for the half way point that I never found on the way up :0( I kept telling myself, 'This must be it.' My toes were screaming from being stuffed into the front of my Ariat boots with each step. I had on heavy padded merino wool socks. That is the only thing that saved me from blisters, I am sure. My hips were hurting, more than my knees, and my legs were like a bowl of jello. Though, I was making better time coming down than going up. I finally had to stop to sit on a rock for awhile. A couple of ladies were coming down with their hiking sticks, separated by about 100 feet between each other. The last lady said, "This coming down is way tougher." I'm thinking 'No shit, Sherlock,' as her legs gave out with her almost falling into my lap. 'Sorry, she says,' uprighting herself with her walking poles. I tell her as she continues on down, "Now, I wonder why I wanted to hike the Pacific Crest Trail?" "Maybe because I was 35 years younger." haha Then, I yell to her even louder as she was making her descent, "Now I know what Reese Witherspoon felt like in the movie WILD." I heard a faint laugh echo back my way.
Okay, enough rest, onward and downward. Finally, by the grace of God, I could see the trails end. I was worried I wouldn't make it back down by dark. It took me 5 hours roundtrip with lots of stops to rest and a long stop to bask in the beauty at the top. My legs were quivering and all I could think of was a hot bath, 800mg of Motrin, and a cold beer, and not necessarily in that order. :0)
On the ride home, I made a call to my neighbors (the chicken sitting neighbors) to see if they were home. Kitty answered the phone and said all was good with the chickens. I told her I was making the drive home from hiking Mount Walker wanting to be sure that Rooster Cogburn and the ladies were taken care of for the evening. She said, "Hey, Mark and I had to do that hike 3 times before being able to get a clear day." Holy SHIT. I told her I was impressed, because it will be a cold day in Hell before I think about making that trek again. Lordy!