Category Archives: Hiking in Las Vegas

Hikes I have done in the Vegas Area

Trail Canyon –Final Prep Hike


IMG_6073It is two years and two pants sizes since I went to Everest. I am none to happy about how I am leaving the USA but it is what it is. Today, Maggie and I headed off to our final preparatory hike before our departure. It was a great morning. Cool yet comfortable. I have been battling some ankle swelling and have been a bit concerned about that. But today was all about that last effort on home soil.

I had not gotten much sleep. I tossed and turned as my pups, for some reason, were at each other all night. usually they simply sleep with the occasional alerting because something outside catches their attention. But this particular night was different. Lots of banter and territorial growling with he occasional rough necking. All.Night.Long! Morning came and I drug myself from

Dog Jail.

Dog Jail.

bed and noticed Jack the older of my dogs was not his usual cheerful self. He kept looking out in the loft as if he were watching a ghost. I walk out there and there it is. The oat bar he had drug up after having gotten in my trekking duffel bag and taken out my trail bars! So that was the answer to all the trouble!!! I went downstairs to find them strewn about, unopened. Mystery solved, but that didn’t change the fact I was BEAT before we even began.

Xpectacular scenary.

Spectacular scenery.

Maggie got to the house and we loaded up ol’ Ace the Honda Pilot and set out for the trail-head. We yacked about the trip, how much packing we had to do, what tips we would have on hand for the porters and crew of Mountain Madness, are spa day at the end of the trip and other sundry topics as they randomly came to mind. Then we arrived at the trail-head and laced up our boots. We donned our packs and grabbed our poles and off we went.

Today’s hike was Trail Canyon. It is a two mile hike up hill, rated very strenuous. You gain about 1500 feet over the course of the trail. Though Maggie and I both felt Rain Tree was more difficult. But ut was quiet….for the most part…..and nice and really a good way to finish our preparations for Machu Picchu.

IMG_6064I told Maggie to hike her hike and pretty soon she was far enough ahead of me that I didn’t see her any nore. I made my way up trail in my own slow style, stopping to enjoy the surroundings and breathe in the fresh air of summer. The Aspen and Pine forest was filled with the sounds of birds and bugs and that was refreshing. Unfortunately there were a few groups of loud people that came through. One in particular was a gaggle of high school aged girls.

Back of the pack of hyena girls.

Back of the pack of hyena girls.

Maybe a dozen of them. None but a few even had water with them. But all the way up and down the trail they screamed as if they were being murdered just to hear the echo. Nobody leading them told them what bad trail etiquette it was to do that. The pushed passed and never said excuse me or thank you. Just hollering and yelping foolishly.

But they were not going to ruin a beautiful day of hiking for Maggie and Me.  We took in the day, thought about what was ahead of us and were both pretty happy with the day’s work. After the hike, we drove up to the Charleston Lodge where Maggie treated me to lunch and conversation. IMG_6068I have found a real friend in Maggie. She is a great adventure partner and we can both enjoy our hikes without expecting the other to “hike my way”.

IMG_6069

A fine meal with a fine friend!

So that is it. Over a year of training in various ways and times to get ready for this big trek. My second, Maggie’s first. The journey has been great. Ups downs ins outs. All part of the big thing called life and we are finding in our 50’s there is much of it to be lived.

 

And now, a few more pictures of that final hike:

 

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IMG_6077   IMG_6076

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Lone Mountain


There is a little bump of rock that sits in the Las Vegas Valley east of the Red Rock Conservation Area and literally an arm’s length from the 215 AKA Beltway freeway. It can bee seen from all over the valley, sort of by itself. Thus the name, I would conclude. I never had a reason to want to hike around there. But a friend mine who lives on that e4nd of the valley has always wanted to do it just to ay he did.

Lone Mountain

Lone Mountain

So Saturday we set out. It was early and windless and quite a nice morning to be out. The thermometer was predicted to be in the triple digits but I was not worried. My research had told me that this was a half mile hike that would end up with a 600 foot elevation gain. I figured a short burst of work, a peek around the valley and back down.

We headed up and it was a bit steep as I thought it would be.

First Leg

As often happens, at least for me, the ultimate top of a hike is not visible from the bottom of it. From this perspective I thought there would be this first stretch and another short one. Because it was 1/2 mile……right? WRONG!!!! As it turned out we had not taken the short route as described (a bit incorrectly) by the source I looked up. Instead we were on track for steep and long.  About three miles.

saddle

We took a nice view of the valley northeast of the rock while we were at the saddle. From here there were additional steep sections to attack. My friend is not a real avid hiker. He was happy I gave him my trekking pole since he wore court shoes. The steepness was work going up, but coming down proved to be more work. Lots more. My quads went from hot fire burning globs to jelly like puddles that were useless for anything from being fired the entire return trip. But I get ahead of myself.

benchmark

We hit the benchmark and at the top got a hazy morning view of the entire Vegas Valley. We had run into another hiker who uses this as a training hill. That seemed to be the norm there…lots of people powering up and down to get fit. We spoke with the one guy who said in the summer there are lots of gnats at the top of the hill. But it was not gnats, it was FLYING ANTS! They were everywhere and as a result the stay at the top was not really very fun.

SKULL TOP

Appears that one guy didn’t get out of there before the gnats got the best of him!  You can see the hazy day over Vegas in the distance. It did clear some as time went on. But it also got hotter fast!

This little suburban hike was a great test of hiking in less than aesthetic surroundings and sticking with it in the heat, gnat attacks and even during what was a bit of heat over exposure to complete the task. I realized that two years ago my Everest experience had built my endurance mentally. This was certainly more for getting to the top than enjoying the trip. Though it was fun to make sure my boots were performing, which they did in stellar fashion! This was not near as steep as day two in Machu Picchu will be, but it was a nice test run for fitness gains. My kettle bell challenge is actually showing good fast results in the strength department, that was clear!

View west

After we returned to the care in triple digit temps, my friend had felt a sense of accomplishment for doing what he had wanted to do for many years. But he doesn’t hike…….at least he didn’t used to!

The 404 Trail


(Maggie and I have set a hike of Black Mountain as our monthly evaluation hike in working up to Machu Picchu. The goal is to be able to see our fitness increases gained over the course of the month and to assess what we need to do to ensure our readiness for our September trek on the Inca Trail.)

BMSTART

Post that marks the activities allowed.

 

 March 24, 2014. 5:30 AM. As I sit in my car, lacing my boots in the dark, it is not lost on me that just 24 months ago I was boarding a plane to Nepal to start what was the best few weeks of adventure I had ever had. It was also not lost on me that only 12 months ago, I was beginning what was to be the worst few weeks of my  adult life in watching my father’s slow death and in taking him home to be buried. And here I stood, at the parking lot of Black Mountain, getting ready to challenge myself in preparation for the next adventure.

I put on my headlamp

BMLIGHTS

Starting out and testing my red lights on my headlamp.

and headed out. It had been two years since I had done this hike, and I knew there had been quite a bit of trail development in the Sloan Canyon National Conservation Area. My lamp lit the trail well and for the first time ever, I also hiked with my iPod playing in my ear. As I walked past houses where people still remained warm in their bunks, I thought about how nice it was to still be able to just drive up to the end of the burbs and start hoofing it. Soon I was at the little water retention dam and knew that once I had put it behind me, it would not be long until I would be on trail and officially out of the suburban beginnings of the hike.

 

I trudged on thinking about how my feet were feeling, assessing if I had laced my boots well, if they were feeling good, if the iPod would last the whole hike and wondering if the coyotes were watching me in the dark. Every now and then the monotone voice of my MapMyFitness app would tell me how far I had gone. I had not yet left what was a service road and started to doubt if I had gotten on the right trail. The sun was starting to make an appearance and as I looked back down the mountain I could see I had gotten myself on the next hill over by crossing the front of the dam instead of the back. So around I turned and headed back to the dam.

BMSUNUP

Vegas on a Sunday Morning

 

I texted Maggie, who intended to begin after me and she confirmed my mistake just about the time I arrived back down the to the dam. Now I could read the signs and there it was. I needed the 404 trail and that is on the back of the dam!  I had eaten up so much of my lead time that I was mad with myself. I am less fit than Maggie and did not want to slow her down on her test hike. But it was what it was so I went around the dam and found the trailhead. I put my lamp away and started in, now with over 2.5 miles extra logged.

BMTRAIL

You will find this just at the far end of the back of the retention basin.

 

I hiked up and up and felt pretty good. Slow but good. There was nobody around on what is usually a freeway. A benefit of coming quite early on a Sunday morning.  I could feel the walk in my legs and I took note of a few issues with my boots and feet. This being the first real hike of the year, my feet are not yet conditioned and I knew they may be sore. I was trying a lighter weight boot too, and that may have been a mistake as the bottoms of my feet were getting more feedback from the trail than I like.

Around six miles in I had to start assessing whether to go to the top or not. I had burned a couple miles that I sure could have used energy-wise on my mistaken start.

BMSUM

Too far to go since I wasted my morning on the wrong path!

 

I sat down and ate a few nuts and seeds and drank a considerable amount of water. All of a sudden Maggie was there and we talked about how things had gone to this point. Given the fact she had not added a two plus mile spur, she was going to continue up. I decided I needed to head back because my feet were pretty sore and the left boot was throwing into pronation pretty aggressively. I had a small blister on my middle toe and could feel a hot spot on my big toe from the posture of my foot in pronation. So she went up, and I headed down.

BMMAGKAR

Maggie and Karen Meet on the Trail

 

MBSHADOW

It is always good to know when to turn back.

 

It was a long hike and I was a bit worried that it was going to really set me back. I hadn’t really planned on more than 6 miles and this was 9.5 by the time I was done.

MAP

MapMyFitness tracked the mileage.

ELE

NICE ELEVATIONS!

 

In the end, I was tired and sore but had gotten great information about what gear and fitness things I need to work on over April. Cannot WAIT until we tackle this at the end of April and see how I do then!

 

Hill Training for Machu Picchu


I have been devising a fitness routine to get ready this 8 months coming up to the Machu Picchu trip. Because I cannot always make the time to go out to the bigger area of mountains near Las Vegas, I go to a park just three miles down the road in my neighborhood. It has a little “mountain” in it and there are trails all over. The nice thing is a little section that is steep that goes from, a shelter to the top. Not long, but the key is that is is relatively steep. I scheduled my Friday Mornings to go there and to do the steep section ten times.As time goes on I will add my weight vest and I will increase the weight IN the vest.

Exploration Park Peak

Exploration Park Peak

This Friday Maggie, who is going to Machu Picchu with me, and I set out to do our first 10 lap assault of the hill. I stopped and ate a big hardy omelet first and met up with her at the park. We headed out and told ourselves that we were going to embrace the toughness when things seemed hard. I noticed that there were lots of people out on the hill. With all the circuitous trails on and around the thing, it looked like a little ant nest. One person was wearing a bright orange shirt so she was easy to spot. First on the north side, then down below, then coming over the top as I ascended past her. About my fourth time up, she stopped me as asked if I had done the mountain before. I told her not as a training exercise. She said “Become friends with this mountain. I did and I lost 120 pounds and have kept it off for five years!” and off she went.

Later, we crossed paths again and she stopped and asked how many times I was going up and I told her 10. We chatted and she has MS…”the good kind” she said with a chuckle. She is being the best she can to suffer the least she can and now does 7 miles a day.

Dawn does 7 miles a day!

Dawn does 7 miles a day!

So off I went, inspired by her and what she has done. We parted with the knowledge that we would see each other again. Every Friday.

There were others too. They would see me and encourage me the way many did on the trail to Everest. We finally hit our 10th lap. It was great! Not the two laps I had scheduled before Maggie said she wanted to join me. So now, instead of adding a lap a week and getting to the ten lap goal in 9 more weeks…I am there now.

Planning Helps!

Planning Helps!

After we finished, we jumped into our cars and headed to TruFusion for a 70 minute TruFire yoga session!

SPOT Connect All Set Up!


This will track me

 I got my SPOT CONNECT set up and tested it. I am happy so far and cannot wait to see how it tracks me. My first test post was very close to where I had the SPOT. There is a web page that will start mapping all my check- ins once my trip begins on March 24, 2012.

This is a really neat device that will enable me to use my iPhone through bluetooth to send text messages to people while  am out of cell or data service. It will track me with GPS and let people know my location when I send in an OK signal. I can have up to fifty people that it will let me send group email to. Each email can be up to about 400 characters. I can text too so long as I know their cell phone number and carrier.

Over the next weeks I will be running tests in this and other equipment. With four weeks to go, there is no more time left to get much more equipment. This is one of my more valuable pieces as I can stay connected enough with my family and friends that they will not worry as much.

Personally, I think they should be more worried about driving around Vegas than going to Base Camp…but that’s just me!

Black Mountain Summit!


Today was slated for a hike with my brother to Black Mountain in Henderson Nevada. It is part of the McCullough Range. It sits right at the edge of the surge of housing that spread like a flood of red tile roofs through the 90’s and 00’s. It is the tallest mountain on that end of town in that range.

Black Mountain looms above the houses in Henderson, Nevada

According to Trails.com, it is a 6 hour hike and gains 2k feet in elevation over 3 miles. Joe was adamant that the information was wrong and that we should not be near that long out there so off we went.

  I was excited but apprehensive as well. It is only 5 weeks until I leave to Everest and this hike was fairly representative of a day on the trek. At least as representative as you can get 13,000 feet lower than the trek will be. A typical day on the trek going up will be 3 miles and 6 hours for that small distance.

When I hike…or do anything challenging, I find myself in arguments with myself. If things are getting too hard I fight the voice in my head telling me I am not going to make it. To give up. To be happy with what I have already done. This hike was no exception. I had been hiking for some distance and drinking along the way. But suddenly I began getting cramps in my calf. I ate some Shot Bloks and went along. Once I hit the portion of the hike that really takes a steep climb, I started getting them in the other calf. I had to find some good rocks to press my foot up against to force stretching them out for about 15 minutes and then summit as fast as I could. Once on top, I drank another bottle of water and ate some more Shot Bloks for the trip down. I never had the attacks on the way down so I must have done something right.

Las Vegas Strip on a hazy day.

As you walk up this trail, you see Las Vegas on your left. Though this particular day, there was a big haze over the valley, you could see the Famous Las Vegas Strip pretty easily.

Because of our late start, the sun was going down just as I was down the first and most difficult section. I pulled my head lamp out of my pack and continued along the path. I had not hiked at night with a light before. The weather was nice. Just had my Eddie Bauer Hang Fire Hoodie and a t-shirt and was very comfortable.  Again the doubts about my abilities…too old, spent too many years doing nothing to truly get back to a good fitness level. But as I pushed those thoughts out, I gained a new appreciation for just being there and doing it. How there is no way I could have even 2 years ago. Moreover, that 6 years ago, I was unable to even carry my books from my car to the classroom in Law School. It isn’t over til its over and I just cannot let it be over yet.

Enhancement by David Cummings! Thanks David!

A while back I went on a hike to Turtle Head. I went most the way but really just did not like that hike and the slough under my feet made me believe I was risking injury to claim the top. I had gotten a good workout, so turned back. Ever since that hike, Turtle Head mocks me. It looks at me from every corner of the valley. While up at Black Mountain, It mocked me from across the valley. So I asked a friend of mine what I could do to enhance a picture of it that was obscured by the haze and he gave me this back……stunning. It mocks me and after I get back from Everest, I will go back and put it to rest!

I enjoy challenges. I often wonder if the challenge is what I enjoy over the activity. Especially when the activity becomes difficult. But in the end, I realize one is part of the other. I love the activity because it gets difficult and because I can have a sense of accomplishment at the end.

A look down at Vegas as the lights are coming on....lots of hiking left!

Here are some more sights of the day!

SUMMIT!

TOP O' HENDERSON, MA!

Look Out Night Hike

Not Long Now


Patagonia Fitz Roy Hoodie. I LOVE IT!

Wow! Time is really flying by and before I know it, I will be headed outta Dodge and realizing a dream. I heard from my Cousin, Leo yesterday. He lives in Guangzhou Shi, Guangdong, China. I will be arriving in Hong Kong the 28th of March so he will come over there the night before and tour me around Hong King during my 12 hour lay over! What a TREAT!

As the days round out before leaving to Everest Base Camp, I am finishing up getting the gear in. This near two year process has resulted in me making some additions and changes in what gear I want to bring. I have opted to take two pair of boots, but now, one pair will be all leather, Keen Erickson PCT’s to compliment my Keen Oregon PCT’s. I decided I like the Patagonia Fitz Roy 800 fill down hoodie for my summit coat. That takes out my Mountain Hardwear Down Sweater.

I still have to get all my electronics together and figure out how many batteries and what type I will need to bring. I have my Mac Book Pro, my SPOT, my solar batteries, my steri-pen, my iPhone, and my Canon 60D camera.  I have to complete my first aid list and get my shots. The Health District web page advised getting them right before leaving as they only last a few weeks.  I need to be sure I have enough stuff sacks and dry bags to get all mys stuff into my big Mountain Hardwear Trekking duffel, pack my pack and select one other small carry on to hold boots, camera, passport, tickets and cash. I also need to get passport pictures taken to bring for visa documents for Mountain Madness.

GPS Device Will Help Stay In Touch With Dad

I mentioned a device I got called a SPOT. I was able to purchase it used from a forum member at Trail Space. He only charged me $40.00 and it is going to be a very important part of my trek. Dad is quite worried about me. This little device will enable me to press a button, which will then ping a satellite. That will cause the satellite to send a text message to my sister and emails to various others as well as mark a map through Google Maps. So Dad will know  every day that I am A.O.K. and he can worry far less. I purchased a ton of insurance so that if ANYTHING happens, I am covered and don’t have to pay up front. I can get medical care, evacuation and anything else needed.

So I do feel very prepared though there is much to do in the next 5 weeks until I depart.  I will begin organizing this weekend. Though I will be out both Saturday and Sunday. Saturday to continue the search for Ron Kirk and Sunday to Black Mountain.

Gallery Wall…and Then it Rained.


The rain threatened, but gave us hope with this little rainbow!

Today’s trip to Gallery Wall in Red Rock was absolutely delightful! The hike to the wall was short but lots and lots of scrambling. It gave me a chance to see if I am feeling stronger, more agile, more confident and more fit. I am happy to report a resounding YES to all of those categories!

I found that the burpees I was forced to do last week at CrossFit Max Effort gave me some arms to use when lowering myself onto boulders or when getting up on a boulder above. I am sure the rowing also assisted in overall conditioning.

It was such a nice morning. I love getting up early and heading out to Red Rock. I am

Four of a Kind!

always the happiest with my choice of living areas on days I jump on to Blue Diamond and take the road to the turnouts. It was quiet with only the bicycles beating us to the day. For them, it gets hot even earlier. We simply try to get as much shade on the wall as possible before the sun comes over to chase us away.  During the climbing, I take a chance to test out my camera skills and record the others as they lead, repel, limb and generally have a great time. Today would not disappoint as we headed up to Gallery Wall. They guys

The Way Up.

headed out and I, as usual, trailed behind. I got to the rocks to scramble and the fun began. Lots of pulling, pushing, leveraging my way up to where thee guys had headed. Finally I got there and felt a real sense of satisfaction that I worked hard and kept going and had FUN!

The rain was lingering over on the hills, leaving us alone, but it looked inevitable that it would come our way. The guys were finishing up what had been a great couple hours of climbing and I thought I should go on down and get a head start since I am slower, So off I went. Going down is tricky as I am not

Goofin on the Rock

always confident in my balance. Especially with my pack on. And today, the pack was awkward with my camera rolling around inside. But I felt more in control of my feet than I had in the past. And my arms were of great help, whereas in the past they have simply been more to carry with me. I was tracking the trip on EveryTrail and was happy to see that the half mile had round 300 feet of elevation gain from the lowest point. I had to keep in mind that in order to get to where that gain could be attained, we had to hike down, then up. That means even steeper ups were presented.  My knees took a bashing but that is par for every hike. After I got back to the parking lot, I jumped in my car and headed out. The drive back was nice and I felt good. I stopped in Blue Diamond to grab a tea and visit the locals,….the burros that is! Can’t wait for the next time to play outside!

The Blue Diamond Wild Burros...who come right up and hang with you. So much for the wild side!

ABORT! ABORT! (A not so good hike.)


Trail Head

I was looking forward to today’s hike all week. This being the first week of the 2 month drive to Dad’s 80’th, I was stoked. I had loaded my pack the night before and got my duds ready and hit the hay to get rested up for what would be a nice Trail Canyon hike to the Rain Tree.  I would be trying out my new camera halter too since the last long hike took its toll on my neck carrying a camera on a traditional strap. It was also to be the first real hike on the new boots.  We got to the trail head and Joe said he was off so that he could get his time and would meet me at the log. I was good with that. I am a slow hiker and he needs to enjoy the hike for his purposes as well.

It was such a nice day. The sun was hot but the breeze was cool. The trail was steep but steady. My pack held lots of water, trail food, emergency/first aid kit, trekking poles, rain coat, multi-tool and sundry other small items. I had laced the new boots up well and taken precautions about blisters. So off I went. I had joked with Joe because he told me all week this was an easy hike, but the board at the trail head listed it as STRENUOUS. I delighted in calling him out for lying again. But now he was gone and I was huffing, puffing and photo-ing my way up the trail.

Entering the WILDERNESS! Look Out!

Then it happened. Straight outta the blue. No warning. I was dizzy and nauseated.  I kept going a few more steps feeling fine….except for that. I stopped and hydrated. Still no change. Ate a cliff bar. Still no change. I rested a while longer and set out again. After all, I could have bad days on the trek and will have to push through then too.  Soon, however, I had to stop again. This time I found a great place in the shade and settled in to wait it out. But the problem was no longer dizzy it was intestinal. I made an effort to go further but in a little less than two miles up the trail, I had to go down and find an appropriate rest room. I was SOOO disappointed.  AND I could not let Joe know because we had no way to communicate. Almost like we had been thrown back into the 70′! Luckily, a group of guys came up the trail and I was able to ask them to let Joe know I was descending the trail and for him to continue.

CREATION ALL AROUND!

I got down and took care of things and then sat on a rock and just enjoyed being outside while I waited for Joe to return. There were great sounds all around. I had been hearing the voices of rock climbers on a climbing wall as I descended and it was calming. The birds were out, the wind in the trees made a sound like water. It was great.

After my disappointment I reassessed the day.

  • I had no blisters and loved the way my feet were feeling the whole time.
  • I had not felt unable to hike, just had some “bug”
  • Still got in over three miles and was gaining altitude all along the way up.

Perhaps the big change in diet contributed to what happened today. I do not know. But all of these hikes are to serve a purpose and this one served many.

Only the Shadow Knows

Rained Out


Yesterday I was excited to be headed back to Mount Charleston for some hiking and to see the rain tree. Joe had the day off and was going to pick me up. I had not got in a hike since the South Loop Blister Fest. As I sat reading Dead Lucky, by Lincoln Hall, the phone rang and it was Joe on the other end.

“Looks like thunder and lightning storms today,” he said.

I acknowledged that it was pouring at my house as we spoke. I looked at the hour by hour forecast and we were sunk. We wrapped up our conversation agreeing to meet for coffee later. In the mean time, I laced up my boots, put on my rain jacket and headed to Exploration Park. It is part of the master planned community in which I live. At the entrance there is a little hill called Exploration Peak. Boy scouts have marked out trails up and around it. From the top there is a nice view and signs that show you what you are looking at.

The park below was full of people despite the rain. There is a little water fountain area that is designed for kids to run and play in and the rain didn’t stop the kids from playing in it. Of course, while the rain came down the temperature was still about 84f.

 So, up I went. It isn’t difficult or long. But it is steep and steep is good for preparing for the trek.  A young man was running up the trail to the top…repeatedly. I was simply trying out the new boots and getting a little stretch of the legs.

I had the arm vents of my rain coat open because of the humidity building inside. It was peaceful hearing the drops of rain tap out a rhythm on my hood. My boots were like wearing slippers and my fear of blisters retreated from its heightened state from the last hike. I was happy to again be wearing my Keen Oregon PCT’s.

As I sat atop the little hill, I looked off into the distance toward the strip. The clouds hung low and I felt like I could easily be back in Seattle during a summer rain. The Stratosphere closely resembles the Space Needle from a distance. It felt nice. While I would rather have been on a complete hike, there was fulfilment even in this small stroll up Exploration Peak.

 I did join Joe later for coffee. We sat on the patio at Starbucks on Horizon Ridge in Henderson and looked out across the Las Vegas Valley toward Mount Charleston. Not only was it engulfed in clouds, a large, thicker bank hung low on the mountain. Part of me wanted to be there. Even in the pour down rain. But, as my friend Rosie says…I WILL LIVE TO HIKE ANOTHER DAY!

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