Saturday, September 19, 2009

Redwood Forest Hike

I took a road trip with my husband down highway 101 from Washington to California. Along the way, we stopped off in the Redwood forest of course. Driving through the beautiful trees was just amazing.

I've heard about their massiveness and have seen pictures of them but really didn't realize just how incredible they are until I stood next to them.

We stopped off at the Trees of Mystery first and of course took a couple pictures with Paul and Babe.

Then we did the tour and took the sky train up to the top.

They say the view from up there is amazing. Unfortunately, we were there early in the morning and the fog was thick so we didn't get to take in the beautiful views. But then we took the hike straight down the mountain. We were told that it was a hike only for the advanced hiker. It didn't look too bad because the trail was wide and well kept.

There were a few areas along the way that had a rope to hang on to for support. The challenging part wasn't the condition of the trail, the challenge was in the grade of the hike. I've done some steep hikes and this one takes the cake. Straight down for 1 mile with no flat areas to speak of. This is a trail that is best done on a tobogan or sit on your butt and slide down. I consider myself active. I lift weights, I do all kinds of cardio, I do yoga, I hike, I swim, I play tennis, etc. Nothing I do as far as exercise could have prepared me for this down hill adventure. I don't know what going straight down a mountain does to your muscles that makes it a different experience from hack squats or the similar but this tiny little hike ripped my legs apart. My quads were a little used by the time I got to the bottom but that's to be expected. It wasn't a surprise. No. The surprise came the next morning. All I can say is OUCH! Getting out of bed hurt. Standing hurt. Thinking about my legs while lying flat on my back hurt. Who said anything about walking...whatever. I wasn't able to walk right for 3 days. I didn't walk, I waddled. Good thing a road trip is mostly spent in the car because if I had to walk more, I would have been absolutely miserable. Luckily, I recovered early enough to still enjoy San Diego, LA, and its surrounding areas. It just made me realize that I need more time on the trails if I want to achieve the level of fitness I'm aiming for.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Mercer Slough Hike

First of all, I have to tell you that I learned somethiing new after this hike. I wouldn't really consider Mercer Slough a "hike" but it was a nice stroll through the park anyway. Slough can actually be pronounced three ways: sloo is the pronunciation for northern US and Canadian marsh land, slou (sounds like cow) is the pronunciation for muddy swamp area or a condition of degredation, and sluf is the pronunciation for something that is shed or cast off such as dead tissue. I know you were just dying for a grammar lesson right. Doubt it. Oh well, this is my blog and I'll talk about grammar if I want. We got to the trail head and decided to just wonder aimlessly through the area just to eat up the hour or so that we each had available for this little adventure. One way or another we actually ended up doing a big cirlce and it worked out perfectly. Much of the slough is a meandering boardwalk path through trees and shrubs and tall grasses. There were a few areas where we got to step off of the boardwalk and onto the soft spongy ground. Each and every path we took was well maintained and clearly marked with signs pointing to all the different twists and turns complete with distance for each route. I found that pleasantly helpful so we could decide before hand if we had time to take a right or if we should take the left instead being that it was 1/2 the distance. We only saw two other people the entire time we were out and about. One was jogging the trails and scared the shit out of us as he passed by silently and very unexpectedly. The other was a woman walking her dog. It is by no means a challenging endeavor even for the most novice of beginners. I wouldn't call the scenery beautiful either. There is no viewpoint and we found no beautiful blooming gardens nor a majestic canopy of trees. However, there are a number of charming meandering paths and footbridges over small creeks. There is also a decent sized water way that you can float or just cross over using the bridge. It was not challenging, it was not interesting, it was not pretty. Why bother with this place...unless wondering around a swamp is what you consider a good time.

Thank god for the company I had or it would have been a complete waste of time...for what I was looking for. Oh well, can't win them all I guess. Next!

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Coal Creek Falls Hike

Wallace Falls was the first idea but it didn't exactly happen that way. Weather! We thought it might be okay but an hour drive just to get to the trail head didn't seem like a good idea for the likelihood of being confronted by a terrential down pour. So, we decided instead to check out our very first trail adventure on Cougar Mountain. One thing we learned on this hike...Coal Creek Falls did not have any falls about it. I'm sure the nice little trickle I saw on other's pictures happen every so often but September seems to be the dry season for poor little Coal Creek Falls. Conversation was good though. We talked all about the likelihood of running into an actual cougar on Cougar Mountain. What ever would you do if you ran into a real live cougar in the wild, after shitting your pants that is? Run? Not a good idea. I think they like to chase so that probably wouldn't be a good idea. I read somewhere that you should do what you can to look bigger than the cat and make lots of noise but never ever run or block off their escape route. And if attacked, fight back like you've never fought before. A normal size cat is insane when it attacks. If you have never been through that before, it's not fun. I can't even imagine what fighting with a wild cougar would be. So of course after an hour of having this conversation and being out in the middle of Cougar Mountain, every little noise was making one of the three of us jump every few minutes. Makes me wish I could be a fly on the wall watching us three idiots freaking ourselves out. Silly. But it was a decent hike especially when you're not use to hiking. It was a good uphill sprint to get the heart rate kickin' then it turned into a narrow meander through the carved out trail system. After reaching the "Falls" it winds around a bit then starts back down the mountain. The trail down didn't seem as steep as the up though. And even though it was raining, we didn't really feel much of it as most of the trail is covered by a canopy of trees high overhead. I would recommend this trail to those of us inexperienced hiker in the area but I'd try to avoid the wild animal attack conversations. Enjoy!

Thursday, September 3, 2009

September Activity - Hiking

After very little consideration on the matter, I have decided to hike through the month of September. The Northwest is rich with hiking trails all over the place. Some simple strolls through meadows of wildflowers, some ass kicking vertical climbs. Waterfalls, lakes, caves, ice fields, lava tubes, rainforests, you name it, we've got it.

I've never been much of an outdoorsy tree hugging wilderness woman. Don't like the woods. I hate roughing it in any sense of the word. I've tried camping a couple times and it's just not for me. In my mind, acceptable camping must include porcelain and a down-pillow top mattress. Without those two must-haves, you can count me out. I don't know. Maybe I've just never had that wonderfully fun and exciting weekend camping trip with friends so my camping experiences are limited. Perhaps!

Never much enjoyed hiking either. Never liked the sweaty dirt dripping down my face and neck. The insect carcasses stuck to my skin are not pleasant. I can do without the blisters on the feet. Don't particularly enjoy the claustrophobic feeling I get with all the trees everywhere and the inability to see further than 100 yards in any direction. I'd have to say that my least favorite thing about hiking though is that you have to focus your attention on the ground in front of you for footing and I inevitably end up feeling dizzy after about 20 minutes. I know, I know...I'm a whiner. So true! I admit it fully.

I'm more of a beach girl myself. I like the wide open spaces where you can see the horizon. I enjoy being a spoiled city girl. I've worked very hard for my lifestyle and I enjoy pedicures and Fendi shoes and meeting friends for pink fruity drinks after sitting on my ass in my office all day. BUT, I've decided that if I want to be more active and I really want to push myself, I should do the things that I wouldn't normally do. This is one of those things. I can't promise that I'll be happy and cheerful about it but I can promise to do my best.

I'm starting with my first official September hike this weekend. I think I'm going to head over to Gold Bar and check out Wallace Falls. It should rain so I'm sure that will add to the experience or at least to the entertainment value for the two whole people reading this. Any suggestions for other hikes I should check out this month? I need ideas.