It 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
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.
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.
I 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.
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. I 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”.
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:
Maggie and I set out again for another run at the North Loop. This is her third, my second time heading up. It has altitude and steepness. Two things we need in preparation for the looming trek. First, thanks to Jim, her husband, for being so kind as to lend her to me today, the start of his fabulous birthday weekend!
So up we went and this time no hot spots on my heels. It is a steep 3 miles to the Raintree, a 3000 year old Bristle-cone Pine yes…I will wait while you read it again but it is true! The first section was much easier than last weekend. We hit the boyscout camp and had a snack and a rest and a great visit. Then we hit the 7 sets of switchbacks! I am not gonna lie. This was a grueling section designed to brake me. And at several spots it nearly did. Today, Maggie decided to hang back with me and with my slow pace, that gave her a chance to drink in the beauty of the trail. For me, as always, it was hard work. But that is what I signed up for.
A lot of the Bristle-cones are dead either from past fire or just life going out of them. The strike an ominous pose. They are so cool and eerie to look at! Reminds me of Tim Burton movie art! Who knows, maybe he hiked these hills!
Once we got to the ridge which sits about 10,000 feet we rested again. I told Maggie I did not think I had any in the tank to drop down to the tree and come back up for our ultimate decent. But she kept encouraging me that that leg was nothing like the murderous switchbacks we had just finished. So I bit and dow to the rain tree we went. And I am so glad for her prodding me on because it truly is the tree of a lifetime!
We left there and all our media was threatening to die, so we hoofed it back without stops for additional pictures. It was a long day. A good day. One that gave lots of information to us for the final preparations for our IncaTrek!
Here are some more sights of the day…ENJOY!
Maggie and I took a lunch run over to the outlet mall yesterday to the Columbia store and picked up a couple items at stellar prices. We talked about the upcoming weekend hikes we will be doing up at Mt. Charleston between now and departure to get a little altitude in.
I have been going over the list provided by Mountain Madness to see what I already have and what I yet need to get. They state in their materials you must have everything on the list. When I went to Mt. Everest in 2012, I packed way too much. But I noticed today that aside from what we carry on our own backs for the day, the duffel our porter carries can only be 11 pounds! That is by Peruvian regulation! (He carries 44 pounds, so carries two people’s stuff and his own. We each are allowed 5 kilo’s of that space, so 11 pounds). That includes sleeping bag and sleeping pad. My Mountain Hardwear Lamina 35 weighs 2 pounds one once on its own! Add to that my Therm-a-Rest NeoAir XLite pad is 12.7 oz.! With that gobbling up almost three pounds, all my cloths and electronics cannot weigh more than 7 more pounds.
Some Quechua words I already knew but did not know their origin are: Condor, and Guano. Also Jerkey is Quechua for dried flesh. Then there are Puma, Quinoa and Cocaine…all Quechua as well.
I am told the people will speak Spanish and many will speak English. But half the fun is interacting with them on their terms as well.
So the last month push continues and it is an intense time of training, packing, evaluating and building excitement toward that day we board our American Airline plane and head off into the unknown. ¡Huq ratukama! (See you later)!
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.
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.
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.