Monday, October 03, 2011
Saturday was our big hike that we'd scheduled. It was quite the hike, let me tell you...
Saturday, the first day of October started out bright and early as we met up at my sister's (4everadonegirl) house at 6:00 to leave for our hike. There was a bit of a delay as all the members of our group arrived and finished last minute preparations for what was promising to be our biggest hike to date. The attendees were myself, my mom, my sister and her son and his wife and their dog. The plan was to tackle Tahquitz Peak. A local granite fixture that is reported to be the tallest peak in Southern California. There are two ways up this monster, rock climb up the front, or hike around the back. None of us rock climb so we were taking the back route along two separate trails, first was Devil's Slide, then Tahquitz Peak. Eventually we were all ready for the adventure and on our way...we decided to take one car because an Adventure Pass was required and since we all could fit in one car we saved some money on parking. It took a bit to get us situated, especially Cocoa, the dog coming along on the adventure, but we got it worked out and were soon on our way up the hill (up the hill=local colloquialism for going up into our local mountains).
Got to the Idyllwild Ranger station without any problems and filled out our day use pass to go on the trails, it was really easy to accomplish and off we were to Humber Park. Humber Park is the location of a couple of trail heads and the parking spot. Humber Park is usually where we turn around and head back on our regular hike, Ernie Maxwell Trail. Pit stops accomplished and we stepped foot on the trail after being properly warned...
Yep, rattled my nerves just a bit. "Hazardous Conditions"? Off we went anyways.
The trail started to climb almost immediately and there were lots and lots of breaks for air :). Straight across from our trail (Devil's Slide) was another of the huge chunks of granite that litter our mountainside...Suicide Rock. We started out below Suicide Rock and it wasn't long before this was our view.
There was LOTS of beautiful scenery along the way, even a pretty cool cave (can't see it in the pic unfortunately).
That's Suicide Rock again, just to show you how far up we've climbed in under 2.5 miles. A gain of about 1600 feet. Finally we started running out of mountain to climb....every direction we looked we were at the top....except we knew there was more coming...we just didn't know how much more.
After a bit more of a climb we reached Saddle Junction. A very appropriate name for this beautiful little spot.
Nestled in a grove of trees at the top of this particular piece of mountain is the jumping off point for multiple other trails. So this point "saddles" the mountain and is the junction point for many trails. This point also sits right on the PCT-The Pacific Crest Trail. I have to confess that ever since I got involved with hiking as a sport, not just something to do while camping, I've become a tad obsessed with the PCT. SOMEDAY, maybe when the kids are teens or on their own, you'll find me and hopefully other family members hiking large sections of the PCT. Stretching from Mexico to Canada this is a lifetime goal. I haven't set a goal for how much, but maybe...nah, won't go there now...we'll see. Anyways, I was so excited that this junction included the PCT I couldn't help but take a pic of me standing on the PCT.
And this PCT post...
After lunch we were back on the trail, only now, instead of Devil's Slide, we were on the Tahquitz Peak Trail. Which, I was overjoyed to find out is a small little piece of the PCT :). More beautiful scenery, except the trail did NOT get any easier, as we had read on multiple reports-lol! Nope, it was just as strenuous as the first section, but maybe not quite so twisty-turny, it was laid out straighter and therefore might seem a bit easier, psychologically speaking, maybe...I wasn't buying though-lol. It wasn't too long though (actually it was absolutely forever) before we reached another junction, we turned to the right and kept following a trail that was now literally sitting on the top of rock, not much dirt or even sand to speak of. Hard granite and bits of crumbled stone. Suddenly we were standing on a cliff. That took me by surprise...and caused quite the wave of dizziness (the sheer surprise of it and the height and the thinness of the air all combined against me).
After a few moments of leaning on a very solid rock I felt like I could hazard another look...not so much, but I did manage a few pics by pointing my camera in the right direction.
See that roundish lump of rock, slightly to the left of center in the next pic? That would be Suicide Rock...oh my it got so tiny...eeek.
This pic...that would be straight down folks...nothing but rock and some really stubborn brush down there. Yeah, right here I'm kind of terrified and my nephew had quite the good time teasing me, but hey...I won't deny...I had no idea my fear of heights, which usually ignores the heights found in mountains since I still have ground under my feet, would kick in so forcefully when presented with a 1000 foot granite cliff. Need I mention that this pic was taken by pointing my camera and not actually looking at what I was shooting?
I pressed on for another 50 feet, maybe more, then the trail took a steep turn and a steep climb that scared the bejeezus out of me. Nope, I did not make it all the way to the top, probably within a 1/4 mile or less of the top, but not the top. And while I regret it a little bit, at the same time I'm totally okay with it. I know my limits and I don't know what would have happened to my already dizzy self if I had encountered that steep climb on the side of the cliff. I was able to reason with myself while it was flat, but the climb, I couldn't and I didn't and that is okay. I pushed further and harder than I'd ever pushed before. This was the BIGGEST, most STRENUOUS, most REWARDING hike I've ever taken. I proved to myself that I could do ALMOST anything. If I could do absolutely anything, I'd be perfect and how dull would that be? lol :) My mother was kind enough to turn around with me and head back to a more solid location. I actually stayed on the side of that cliff for a few moments kind of forcing myself to look around and the view was SPECTACULAR. I found a spot where I was literally sandwiched between two rocks so I could look around. When I got tired of standing on the cliff we headed back to more solid ground where the view was still spectacular. Mom and I got a chance to just sit and rest for a bit while the others made it to the peak.
When the others got back we took a quick pick of my mom, my sister, and myself....
The hike back was much easier than the hike up, but still exhausting and by the end all I wanted was to get off that mountain. I did my good nature deed for the day when I picked up a discarded water jug someone had left on the trail. I carried it all the way down that mountain and tossed it in the garbage where it belonged. Pack it in-pack it out...shame on whoever dropped it to litter the beautiful forest we'd been enjoying all day long.
Finally, very near the bottom I looked up and saw this... That's where I'd been earlier that day. Way up on top of that ridge. The giant rock face is in front of where we emerged on the trail...I believe it is right in front of where the trail turned and took the steep upward climb at the end. The ridge immediately behind the rock face is the cliff we were standing on. I think, if I am remembering and seeing things correctly, I made it to right about somewhere in between the far right edge of the cloud touching the ridge and that little "v" shaped notch. The trail itself does not follow the entire ridge, but comes in somewhere right around the middle of the cloud from behind the ridge. The Devil's slide trail took up up the side of the mountain. The Tahquitz Peak trail behind it and back to the ridge. Quite the amazing accomplishment.
The adventure wasn't quite over though....Last 1/4 mile of the trail and we have separated from the rest of the group. My sis, nephew and niece-in-law are far ahead with my mom and I trailing behind. I met up first with a dad and his two little girls. They warn me that ahead, by a rock after the switch back there is a rattle snake so watch out and stay in the middle of the trail. I stop and wait for my mom to catch up, inform her as we hit the switch back and we take it VERY slow, with wide open eyes, watching for any sign of this snake. There are A LOT of rocks at the switch back so I am watching very carefully. No sign of the snake at all...maybe it slithered away after encountering the family? So, now very anxious to be done, I forge ahead and pick up my speed pretty certain I'm past the danger, but still watching every rock that comes up and still staying in the middle of the trail. When suddenly, hidden in the shadow of a rock ahead and to the left I see the snake. He is not terribly big and black and looked to be coiled up. I jumped a mile to the right. I think I literally jumped. That darn snake scared the poo out of me (almost). I warned my mom and pointed to the spot...she stopped to look...not for me thanks...and couldn't see a rattle, but said it looked like the snake had lost the end of it's tail so it was hard to tell. I wasn't about to get to know it better and kept going-lol! Nothing like a mild cardiac event at the end of a grueling hike to get your adrenaline pumping and give you that extra push to the end-lol!! From there is was really just a few more yards and I saw the trailhead along with the car and everyone else waiting for us....it felt so good to get in the car :). Home, a shower and I was asleep by eight o'clock :).
It was an amazing adventure and one I'll never, ever forget. I also learned I need better hiking boots any recommendations as to brand? I'm seriously considering investing in Keens or Merrells any suggestions?
Saturday, September 24, 2011
Quite awhile ago now I saw that there was going to be a mud run in a nearby city and that they were seeking volunteers. One of my goals this year was to volunteer at a race. So I took the opportunity along with my sister (4everadonegirl), my mom and Angela (aweise).
Yesterday was the volunteer meeting where we got our bright yellow volunteer shirts and signed up for our duties. We all decided to hand out water at the one and only mid-race water stop.
Today we headed out nice and early, got there in good time and met our co-workers for the water stop...Chip and Julia (I think that was her name..I know I got his right). After waiting a bit we were transported to our location via Gator. Not an alligator, but a Gator...if you don't know a Gator you are missing out (not really-lol). A Gator is a particular brand of multipurpose cart. It is like the utility version of a golf cart. Driver's cabin is pretty much exactly a golf cart, the back instead of being additional passenger space is a miniture trunk bed, complete with tailgate :). Let's see if I can find a picture for you...
The one being used was most like the one on the far left, but not as new or nice :). So...anyways...all four of us pile into one Gator. My mom in the passenger seat, my sister, myself and Angela in the back. I climb in and immediately see a sticker about passengers not riding in the bed-lol. Just as he starts I wasn't quite ready and jolted a bit when we went. My sister warned me about the dangers of falling out and we immediately started giggling and laughing over the fact that I, would indeed, be the one who fell over board. Lots of giggles about me falling out the back, landing on my tush and yelling "I'm alright" and "wait for me." Lol-it was so hillarious because it didn't happen and I am cracking up again just typing this. I did get a serious case of the giggles. The giggles were just starting to subside when our tour guide took us over hill and over dale and through a small grove of very large bushes, maybe they were small trees.
Okay, this part isn't quite as hillarious, but the "tour guide" (which is what I'm going to call our driver) is driving us through this grove and branches keep reaching into the Gator. Unfortunately they kept getting Angela. Okay, so I got the giggles AGAIN and was TOTALLY cracking up....not because they were hitting Angela but because the tour guide kept saying "Trees. More trees. Trees. More trees." This sent me into HYSTERICS for some strange reason. For quite some time after that if I or my sister said "More trees" I would still laugh. "More trees" might make me laugh for quite some time-lol!
We got set up and started waiting for the first runners....oh wait....unfortunately we were also waiting for the water jugs...lol. Oh dear, but the water did arrive just in time for us to fill a bunch of cups and be ready for the runners.
It wasn't long before people were coming by wanting water. Things got a little hectic sometimes and we got a little nervous about our water supply other times, but overall it was a fun, fun, fun experience. Hot though. It was an unseasonably hot day today.
They brought us lunch....uggh...nasty burrito...I managed to choke down about half just so that I would have the energy I needed.
I accepted one very muddy hug, my sister got more and almost looked like a race member-lol!
My sister and Angela had to leave early and we got some reinforcements to help out. Young high school students who did an awesome job chipping in and getting water on the tables.
We were done before three o'clock, cleaned up our area and got a ride back in the same Gator...which now had a flat tire...but he shrugged his shoulders and off we went. Unfortunately because the back is NOT designed for passengers it seems to sit right on top of some important moving part that puts off A LOT of heat. My tush was toasty...more than toasty by the time we got back and so was that flat tire. But, we got back without having to walk the entire way-lol.
Volunteers also got medals so we picked up our medals and came home :). It was a great day. Hot and exhausting and I feel like I ran the race (only not as dirty-lol). I would LOVE to volunteer at a race again.
One of the best parts of volunteering was how excited people were to see us out there with water. I know how they feel, I've been there. I know how exciting a water stop can be. Everyone was so awesome. We were told over and over how awesome we were. The runners are the awesome ones. It felt really great to do for other runners what volunteers have done for me. It was a great experience.
Not a runner? I still recommend volunteering at a local race. It is an AWESOME way to give back to your community and you get to say hi to wonderful people and you get to cheer for them and help make their experience a great one. Doing for others is a great way to spend the day :).
Monday, September 19, 2011
Okay, so challenge for PMP week 3 came up....last week I failed to get in one of the 3 hours, but I feel good about what I did accomplish so...moving on to week 3.
A 3 part challenge this week....I'm not going to take the time to cut and paste in the whole thing...so you get me paraphrasing
1. Work on a part that does not get enough time...Legs...because I run I trick myself into thinking that is enough. Really, I know it isn't, but I like to pretend-lol! So my legs are my focus for the week. I'm going to accomplish this by FINALLY getting back to the 200 squat challenge I've NEVER finished. Back to square one and it should get me focusing back on my legs, not just for this week, but for 8 weeks...so good to go.
2. Abbreviate the time spent on a part that gets plenty of attention...well, that would be my arms, but considering that I've only started to give them attention last week, I feel really bad letting up on them...so I WILL abbreviate, but ONLY if I am running short on time or otherwise feel like I "can't do it all".
3. Remeasure or retake one minute tests from the start of the challenge. I'll be re-doing the tests at the end of the week and will post a comparisson of the results!!
Okay, so on to my question...here's the situation...I hate shoes!! Really, I hate them. At home I am ALWAYS barefoot...my sis has pointed out that in order to protect my feet I should at least wear flip-flops or slippers...I'm making an effort in that direction, but really I love my tootsies being free-lol. So the dilema is...I hate putting on shoes for no good reason...if I'm going outside, fine, I get it...I need shoes. I pronate...so if I'm going running...I get it...I need shoes (and specific ones at that). But, if I'm strength training...at home...on carpet...do I need shoes? No circuit training so I'm not jumping around. No special equipment...just me, the mat and the weights. I kind of don't see the need to bind up my feet if I'm just standing. Granted I would be in trouble if I dropped a weight on my foot, but since I don't wear steel toed sneakers that might still be a problem.
What do you all think? I'll go with majority rule-lol!
Hope everyone has a great week! :)
Sunday, September 18, 2011
Okay, so this is kind of a popular theme round these parts, but honestly sometimes you just gotta get up and do what you need to do.
I've had a pretty successful week. Not perfect, but overall successful.
Monday through Friday I got in my two scheduled runs, got in one hour of two hours of strength training, I actually got to the library and studied for my class, I got a lot of PTA business completed without sacrificing my family time. It was a good week overall. I could have tried harder to get that second hour of strength training done, but it is what it is.
Today, I had 10 miles on the schedule. Honestly, 10 miles scares me. I haven't done enough 10s to feel comfortable with the distance. 10 miles is a heck of a long way. Running at 10 miles gets very mental for me. 3 miles...not a problem...easy peasy...I can go three in my sleep (and I think I have-lol). 6 miles? A little more difficult, but doable and a distance I actually kind of enjoy. Far enough to be a challenge, short enough to not be intimidating. I have to wonder why there are not more 10Ks (at least in my corner of America they are kind of rare). 10 however, 10 is scary, so is everything over 10. So when I got up this morning I was already looking for a really good reason to not go or not do the entire distance. I even wore the shoes that haven't been tested at high distances, maybe they could be my excuse.
Met up with everyone and as always, felt good once I started. I had to stop and stretch a couple times throughout the run...the last time at about 8 miles. I was getting tight all over and knew I could press through and still finish, but thought that a quick stretch would keep me moving a bit faster and more comfortably. It worked. I lost about 2 minutes on the stretch, but I was better able to maintain my pace. During the last mile and a half I have to run past lots and lots of benches. I never realized before how many benches. Every bench screamed to me to sit and rest. They all looked comfy as a sofa. I felt a bit like Odysseus and the benches were the sirens. I had to plug my ears and tie myself to the mast to keep myself from crashing my ship on their shores. Even curbs started to look enticing-lol! But, I kept plugging along and I eventually got there. According to my GPS I even had to go farther than I expected, but I did it. I finished the 10...then sat on a bench. But, only for a second because the fear of cramping and accumulated lactic acid got me moving again fast :). I bit the proverbial bullet and got it done...and at a speed I was very happy with (just below 18 min average pace which is what I was aiming for...slow, I know, but fast for me).
I went and did some shopping. We are horrible in this house about eating our vegis with our main dish. Mostly my fault since I'm the chief chef. Today I stopped by our health food/produce market and stocked up on lots of delicious vegis to add to or make meals of. Cauliflower, broccoli, cucumbers, sweet potatoes, and grapes just because they are delicious :). My family is going to have to bite the bullet and eat more fruit and vegis. Daughter was so excited we had grapes though...that was a bonus :).
I got home and was, frankly, exhausted. I did a few things around the house and fell asleep-lol! Then it was time to hustle and go to great-nephew's first birthday party. Ate a few too many chips unfortunately. But, had a great time and enjoyed the day.
Came home and did a few more things, got dinner together and knew that I still had some strength training to do. Uggh, not feeling the groove. Then my college football game came on and immediately my team literally hands the opposition (our long standing rivals) a touch down. The frustration level kept climbing and I bit the bullet and started on my strength training. I can't watch them fumble the ball while in plank-lol. I can't make gestures at the t.v. if my hands are full of weights-lol. The strength training took a bit longer than it should have as I took breaks to yell at the QB or lament the poor plays, but I got there. The routine generally takes almost an hour and took longer tonight, I forgot to time it so I'm calling it an hour. Especially since I threw in extra planks and worked to muscle fatigue on biceps and triceps.
So, my team lost...spectacularly (50 something to 10 or some such embarrassing number), but I won. I bit the bullet this week and I feel good. My muscles are all tired and will be sore tomorrow, but in a really awesome way :).
Bite that bullet, it is very rewarding.
Wednesday, September 14, 2011
Well, failure to plan has bit me on the hiney once again...this week started the Pimp my (P)Ride challenge and in 4 days we are to rack up 2 hours of strength training. I could have chosen to do a half an hour each day and rotate muscle groups, but no...I failed to do anything on Monday to yesterday I had to get the entire hour in order to stay on track. I did it...no problem, but dang am I sore today. Shoulders, butt and hip flexors are the worst with minor soreness everywhere else. Although, thinking about it today, I think I prefer the "hit it all at one time" method. I think I'd rather be sore all over for one day at a time than sore in bits and pieces all week-lol.
I did have a personal victory yesterday though...while doing the strength training the video I was doing had this move...from plank you dip your hip to the right down to the floor, pull back into plank and then dip left. Just watching I'm thinking "no way, I'll fall, there is no way I can do that." But, as Yoda would say...there is no try, only do or do not (or something like that...need to freshen up my Star Wars). Since nobody was home to laugh at me when I fell to the floor, unable to haul my sizable hip back into plank, I went ahead and did it. Once on each side before crumpling to the floor in a heap-lol! But, once on each side was more than I expected and now I know I can do one on each side...next time I'll do that and probably a bit more :).
The other interesting bit is that I have this favorite pair of jeans (who doesn't, right?) and generally speaking when they've just been washed they are a tad snug...over the course of the day they get looser and are fine. Today I took those jeans out of the closet, put them on and they felt loose, like I'd already worn them. Woot....not sure that is showing on the scale yet, but it was nice to put my jeans and have them start out loose.
Okay, off to do my thing for the day. Have a great one everyone!!
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