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Butterflies on Top (Hike Pics)

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

As I face the mountain of stresses that have built up in my life recently, I'm reminded that I recently climbed an actual mountain... My 1st mountain. Maybe there were some lessons learned there that I can apply now.

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Almost a month ago, after the San Diego SparkRally in March where we collectively worked on our individual vision collages, some of us headed out for a post-party event organized by ABB698 and THEMIGHTYLEX. I felt a little trepidation, but had every expectation of being able to make the climb. ABB698 reassured me a bunch of times, it seemed like no big deal, and I had ADVENTURE-GIRL, one of my regular walking partners, to accompany me. (The familiarity made me feel stronger.)

PLUS, I had built up a little confidence after doing my very 1st hike in February. For the San Diego SparkRally, our local team leader, SPRING4FAL led us up the hugely long sloped road to the top of the cliff, across to the beach and down stairs chisled into the rock. It was an amazing experience, worthy of its own blog, especially since I took 350 photos trying to capture the beauty that surrounded SPRING4FAL, CGEM, PINKCIS and me at the top. I was severely breathing hard (it felt good) trekking up there with these women, who were all much more fit than I was but never, ever, EVER made me feel inadequate or slow. I powered up it, and they were so generous with their support and encouragement. I'm so lucky. But more on that another time. I knew I could hike this mountain, because, SHEESH, I did that! Pffft. ;D


I got this neat topography/GPS graph from an internet posting.

Here are the stats: At an elevation of 1,591 feet, the summit of Cowles Mountain is the highest point in Mission Trails Regional Park and the city of San Diego. Views are superb, including the Cabrillo Monument, downtown San Diego, La Jolla, and the Pacific. On clear mornings it seems all of Southern California lies within the 360-degree summit panorama, with views of San Clemente Island (81 miles away), the San Gabriel Mountains (108 miles away), the Laguna Mountains, and Mexico.

More info here: www.trails.com/tcatalog_


I have family in Colorado, so I've always carried their attitude that California has foothills, not mountains. I spent almost every childhood summer staring up at Pikes Peak in the Rockies, 9 times (oh wait, only?!) this elevation. So even it being called Cowels MOUNTAIN (pronounced "Coals") didn't faze me. Therefore:

[#1: I believed I could do it.]

--Hike Details--
Time Up: 1 hour
Distance Up: 1.5 miles
Elevation Gain: Started at 680 ft elevation, so almost 1,000 feet!
Time Down: ~45 minutes

--Who hiked--
ABB698 & her daughter
THEMIGHTYLEX & his guest
Another Sparker started, and turned back. Her name is Faye, and I'm proud of her effort to attempt it! I wish I knew her SparkName.






emoticon***Top of San Diego, "Mountain" Climbing!*** emoticon

Do you know what's at the top of San Diego? LOTS OF BLUE SKY, BABY! A day-time moon and butterflies dancing in mini tornadoes of their own making!

[#2: The triumph is worth the effort, and you can find unbelievable surprises.]

360-panorama...I should put this on Flickr so that you could see the view in more detail. I set the camera to auto, so it kept changing the focus and exposure. I realized when I got home that there's an "autostitch" function.. OOOH, perfect for next time. ;)

If these miniature doggies can do it...

First bend.. The trail snakes its way toward the first third of the elevation...

Already there were wildflowers and views of San Diego... :) There's nothing quite like being amongst the chapparal and native plants that crowd the hills, because seeing them from the road below and imagining how big or small they are really doesn't compare. It's fascinating to me.

Parts of it weren't very challenging, just hard packed dirt.

Then it got steep a bit.

And rocky. Bonnie indulged my incessant photography. LOL. And even turned around a few times so that I wasn't ONLY taking photos of her booty.

[#3: Sometimes it gets worse before it gets better.]

The peak is nowhere in sight, by the way, but we keep going up!

1st 1/4 mile marker

The peak is the top of that. Waaaay over there. You can actually see people walking up the trails, but they look like teeny tiny ants.

A peek behind...

The view ahead. Bonnie in the Karate Kid Pose... OMG. I just found out there's a website image blog called karatekidpose.com. We have to add this one. Haha.

Lesa pointing out the peak (better perspective in this photo)... People around us kept asking "Are we even halfway there yet?" "Where are we going?" It was somewhat frustrating, feeling the weariness and like there was no sense of it ending, and wondering about endurance. I said very few words (because I was too busy trying to breathe), but internally I started joining them, "...Where is it?" until I realized that it was NOT helping me.

[#4: Complaining about how hard it is is harmful, saps needed energy. Focusing on how far I've come or the bigger picture or even just the next few steps ahead is more useful.]

The next steps...

How far we've come (that's Lake Murray)...

Bonnie & our goal...

Done with 1 mile!! YAY!!

[#5: Celebrate successes.]

Bonnie was so helpful!

I was tired, but LOOK how HIGH we are!! HEheee.


Views... I was a little dizzy, which explains me leaning back strangely.


We're on the final switchbacks near the peak!! Hooray!

WOOHOO! Done makin' it up the mountain!

Daytime Moon! :D

There really were real butterflies swirl fluttering all around. And lots of wind. :)

I think I made Bonnie pose with me 20 times. LOL.

They had the great idea of posing with FHAMWHEY's house in the picture...So that she could be there in spirit! HEehee. Thanks for letting us come to your house for the vision collage! We waved to you repeatedly!! :D

ACTION STARS!! Whaaaa -wah-waaaah! :D (That's action-themed music playing.)

Look how HIGH we ARE!!! HEheee.

The only other group picture with Marty in it.. We kinda persuaded her. But we had to mark the MONUMENTAL OCCASION!!!

The fun is not over... Now we get to go down.

Times I fell: Once, well it was more of a slip all the way to sitting/landing on my booty than a fall, and happened on the way down. The camera was safe (that's what I was most worried about after not wanting to take out other people if I fell)! Luckily I didn't fall forward, and luckily I had plenty of cushioning, so except for a small cut, lots of granite dust staining the apple bag that my SparkFriend made for me, I didn't break the skin, or get a bruise, or anything! SparkFriends were there to help me up, and Bonnie (thankfully) helped brush all the dust off my clothes.

[#6: The only way to finish after a set-back is to get up and keep going.]

Done! At the bottom!

What I learned:
**I was reminded AGAIN how SparkFriends are as helpful & encouraging in person as they are online. It was a joyful experience, as it always is with them. ADVENTURE-GIRL was my official hike buddy, and lead the way up for me. ABB698 was our official cheerleader, a strong hiker that was kind enough to follow me, MARTY12345 was the girl that gave up giving up, and THEMIGHTYLEX mightily helped me & the others past some of the steeper steps! And his guest was our peak group picture photographer!

**I will definitely do this again in the future to compare how much stronger I am then! I'd love to have hiking boots to help support my ankles and give me more traction.

**Stretching is the miracle motion that I knew it to be. I spent a few minutes getting some good stretches in before washing up back at the parking lot. I was not even sore the day after! During my knees were complaining a little. All of the rebound/recovery reminds me how lucky I am to be so young (32), and how much I want to have greater stamina and flexibility when I'm 3x this age.

**I got a little frustrated that I wasn't going as quickly as I thought I should. This brought a little dark cloud over a super sunny day, filled with victory! I respect that strenuous exercise can bring out unexpected emotions in me. Some of them felt like the very first time I tried walking around my building at work, when I could not walk for 5 minutes without being heavily winded. I've come a long way, but when I really push myself beyond Zumba, and the Arc Trainer, into completely unexplored challenges, I realize how much farther there is to go/how many great adventures still await!

I got home and took a hot hot shower. I felt so revitalized, and burned almost 1600 calories on that hike. I didn't quite fuel myself enough after that, so that's something I'll improve for the next time. But my circulation was good, and I felt like I was glowing. I was proud of my accomplishment, and it helps to put everything else in perspective. The 5k I walked a couple weeks later felt like nothing, even though my lower back hurt a little. There really is something special about PUSHING yourself past your limits, to discover the new limits.
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Member Comments About This Blog Post
    Fantastic job, doll. Cowles is one of those hikes that's terrifying until you do it. My Kid and I managed this a couple of weeks ago, and before we went up, I looked at him, and was like, err- I'm not ashamed to admit that I'm frightened of how nasty this is going to be. This, however, is not your opportunity for a chicken exit. :D The top was more ridiculously satisfying than I imagined after all of that. :P

    Anytime you want to conquer that monster again, you should drop the SD SparkTeam a note, and I'd be all over it. Gotta show it who's boss again now and then. :)
    2545 days ago
    How absolutely fantastic! Looked like a fabulous day and hike. I'm from FL so anything with any kind of altitude stats is high for me, lol. I love the story you trailed with it all. You really are a great writer... I felt I was right there.

    Now I can't wait to get to do a hike someday. Yay....!

    BTW - you looked FA-BOOOOO! (as in fabulous, my dear) emoticon emoticon
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    2546 days ago
    Great blog Jocelyn!

    I've said it before but I'll say it again - you are a fabulous writer. I enjoyed every word. Wish I could've climbed that mountain with you! And if you think what you have in San Diego are foothills, I guess Ohio hills are mere "bumps". However, I will say from the seat of a bicycle, they feel like mountains! Hugs to you for finding your way to the top and pushing yourself to new heights!

    You continue to impress and inspire me!

    Julie :o)
    2551 days ago
    Thank you for sharing this, it gives me hope.
    2553 days ago
  • AMY_1217
    I love this! Not only do you get your cardio in, but you get to spend it with Spark Friends! It looks amazing! Thank you for sharing this with us.
    2554 days ago
  • SUSIEQ432
    2555 days ago
    I LOVE hiking! This blog was so much fun. Thanks for sharing!
    2555 days ago
    Aww, looks like so much fun!
    2555 days ago
    Awesome Done Girl! Beautiful pics and amazing triumph!!! Love it! You are such an inspiration!!!
    emoticon Tasha
    2556 days ago
    Awesome! Great pics! I miss CA! I lived in northern San Diego for almost 5 years! Hiked in Joshua Tree! Your pics brought back memories. Thanks for sharing and congrats! Way to climb!
    2556 days ago
    Wow! My computer had a virus so I just got to read this---fantastic pictures and what a wonderful accomplishment.
    2556 days ago
  • ABB698
    I love the way you put that altogether Joce! Beautiful rendition! And I was so proud of you that day, you really persevered and succeeded! Love how you did our individual shots, but I want one of YOU with your SP name and cool graphics for my SP scrapbook! You are so talented and I always look forward to your pics. Can't wait to climb the mountain with you again, let's hope there aren't any snakes! Well, if there are-we'll have Lex, the snake charmer, to protect us! =) Yay for the SD Spark Team!! emoticon emoticon
    2556 days ago
    Awesome pics and great recap!
    2556 days ago
    Thank you so much for sharing this! After Lex's "I'm going hiking who's coming feed" I really wished I was in Cali so I could go! but after I saw the snake pic, I said forget about it, lol. But Georgia's got some mean foothills too, and I want to be like you and climb an actual mountain! So I am going to forget about the snakes and heights and go for it!! emoticon
    2556 days ago
    I recall climbing a mountain in Maine (I was all of 14 or so then) and it was one where you could lay back on the summit. Did so, and tilted my head back, got a panoramic view, half upside down, of the below.

    Huh I miss climbing.
    2556 days ago
    How fabulous!!! So glad that you made it to the summit with the group - and I love the "done" photos! YOU ROCK!
    2557 days ago
    I wish I were in CA more and more beautiful weather and scenary. I love Indy though. I will post pics of our first hike at Turkey Run when I go. Hopefully within the next few weeks depending on the knee!
    2557 days ago
  • FLOWER1967
    Wow....LOVED THIS BLOG !!!!! And all the PICS !!!! Thank you so much for posting this.....I so wish i could be with you guys....I dont know how Id go but Im sure with the encouragement you all gave each other...Id be at the top with you. With your Blog...I felt like I WAS there !
    Thank you SOOO much Jocelyn !
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    2557 days ago
  • .DUSTY.
    emoticon Loved the photos!
    2557 days ago
  • XENA1956
    Great hike, wish I could have been there. Had no idea there was a SD Sparks gathering in March. Oh next time. I did Borengo Springs in March. Looks like a great time was had by all. emoticon
    2557 days ago
    Great accomplishment! You all look fantastic emoticon
    2557 days ago
    Your blogs always move and inspire me! Congratulations on hiking the mountain, I wish I could have been there!
    2557 days ago
    Awesome hike! and butterflies too! sounds like a great day!
    2557 days ago
    good job! hiking is so much fun! I love that you can really see what you've accomplished! may many more happy trails be in your future!
    2557 days ago
    emoticon on making the hike up the mountain! I love your pictures!
    Keep up the good work! emoticon

    - Karen
    2557 days ago
    That looked like so much fun!! And you are so lucky to have such an amazing group of Sparkers in your neck of the woods. I'm jealous!! I wish I could do things like that with my local SparkGroup, but no one ever participates. It sucks!! And it frustrates me more and unmotivates me (if that's a word) so I dont put myself through it anymore =(
    2557 days ago
    Amazing. I love this. I live in CO, and do not think that our mountains are any better than anywhere else. You had a beautiful hike, just as good as any I could take here! Loved it! emoticon emoticon emoticon
    2557 days ago
  • MARTY728
    To put it simply....I LOVED THIS BLOG! emoticon emoticon emoticon emoticon emoticon emoticon emoticon emoticon
    2557 days ago
    Wicked!!! I want to do something like that, too! But all of my friends are lazy. Guess I need to get some new friends :p lol You're awesome. Never cease to amaze me ;)
    2557 days ago
    What great pictures, and a fabulous experience! Meeting up with Spark friends in person always rocks - I'm glad you had a great time! Thanks for sharing with us.
    emoticon emoticon emoticon
    2557 days ago
    Great pictures! I love the ones you made of them looking like super heroes!
    2557 days ago
    emoticon You are amazing...love all the pictures.
    Thanks for sharing.
    2557 days ago
    That was such a fun day! I am still so proud that we made it to the top!

    Love your stylized pictures Jocelyn :)
    2557 days ago
  • NEWSGIRL2177
    Great blog! I'm so proud of you!
    2557 days ago
    2557 days ago
    I didn't think you were dizzy, I just thought it was a Paris Hilton pose. HAHAHAHA
    2557 days ago
    What a fantastic blog! Great pics and you guys are such an inspiration!
    2557 days ago
    You guys are true life Sparktroopers! In true Spark fashion, you reached your goal with the help and support of each other.
    I really enjoyed the blog, the details and the pictures are great. Made me feel like I was there hiking along with you.

    You have always been a source of inspiration for me.

    And you look great! emoticon emoticon emoticon emoticon
    2557 days ago
    I'll never forget how glorious it felt to celebrate my body with a hike up Mount Fortuna (smaller, elevation 1200 ft)...right in my sister's back yard in the Tierra Santa section of San Diego! That was back in May '09 when I met you and so many other wonderful people at the SparkConvention!

    Here's the blog I wrote back then with a link to my Flikr pics:


    What a wonderful way to celebrate your SPARKED lives TOGETHER! Woo hoo!

    2557 days ago
    OMGee it looked like sO much fun. I wish I was there. I always wanted to go on a hike. You are sO lucky!! I am glad you had a good time & 1600 cals burned....I envy you. (In a good way of course!) You are on your way to this...
    2557 days ago
    Those pictures are amazing. How nice to live in a place where you have the opportunity to experience that!

    Great job, Jocelyn. You are so inspiring. You just set the bar higher and higher, and then meet your next goal....despite whatever trepidation you may feel. Sounds like you had a great day with some great friends.
    2557 days ago
  • GINNJEN2000
    Wow!That was quite a hike!
    2557 days ago
    We must do many more hikes! Excellent blog.
    2557 days ago
    VERY COOL! Great job!

    2557 days ago
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