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!
At work, when we are standing around the proverbial water cooler and I am regaling them with stories of my weekend adventures, one or two of them often tell me their three year old kids can do that. It is all in good fun. But it is true also. Their kids are out their burning up trails I am struggling with.
Yesterday, my brother and I went to the South Loop of Mt Charleston. Charleston is the highest peak in the area. We had no plans of going to the summit, but we were hoping to go to what is called the Saddle. I was a bit nervous because this hike starts at 7600 feet. I am always worried that I will start out and find that as the altitude increases I will find some aversion to it that will indicate I am one of those people who cannot do the altitude thing. I am borrowing worry. I know.
We started out and as usual for me, I get winded right off the bat. I never know if that is because I try to keep up with my brother or if it is just the way I warm up. My brother asked how it was going and I said fine, but he kept telling me we were on the flat. He lied. And he laughed about it after. I know he lied because when I was coming down later, my knees took a beating on that part of my decent. I guess since he doesn’t have a three year old to brag about running full speed on these trails, he just lies about the trails.
We passed a lot of people coming down. And my kayaking pal Kate Sigworth was on the trail with her dog (over three).
She started when we did but was coming down when we were just to the first overlook. She had offered to hike with us but I told her that I was so slow that she would not get done what she was there to do.
I use a trip tracking program to track distance and altitude changes in the hikes I do as well as to map routs to climbing walls. It is called EveryTrail and this is the South Loop information it recorded for me. I find that it does some strange stuff. If you look at it it seems to go off and record some weird running around stuff that I know never happened. But it is what I have right now and it recorded that I gained 2200 feet in elevation on 4.5 miles. SO my hike was 9 miles and topped out at 9800 feet of elevation.
My Base Camp trek will start at 9350 and actually descends from that altitude to 8700 feet that first day. I don’t think altitude hits me hard but will have to get higher to have a better idea of that.
Going up was very slow for me. Four hours to get 4.5 miles in 2200 feet. Coming down took 2 hours. Mainly because there were lots of little stair steps that wreak havoc with my knees. In the first mile going up I had two huge blisters on my heels and coming down my toes and balls of my feet were either dead or on fire. That means the Asolo boots I got are not the ones for me. I will go back to the Keens I had before. But as I sit hear today, my muscles are not sore. My knees and feet are, mainly bone sore from bad boots and lots of steep decent. So all in all, I might not beat your three year old. But I can drive and don’t have to go to bed early. So there is a trade off.