It started out with a plan to "get outdoors" this summer and go for a hike or two. That idea seemed harmless enough...since I have been feeling physically MUCH improved on the Novantrone and gaining some semblance of my "old" life back, going hiking was a natural pick for me. I used to hike around the mountains and hills near Seattle a lot, but Multiple Sclerosis had taken away much of my balance, endurance, and ability to walk distances. Since April, I have seen a drastic improvement in my physical conditioning and have made it a point to try to "get back" some of what I had lost...hiking was just ONE of those things.
Saint EB had gone for a hike (as part of her MS150 ride conditioning and just basically for fun) last weekend and convinced me "we" should take a hike (like I haven't been asked to do THAT a thousand times before...but usually not in the context of getting out in the woods!). So, with the help of my neighbor and coworker, I planned *said* hike for this weekend.
We were originally going to go to a couple of lakes in the Central Cascade area...about 4 miles round trip or so...but, at the last minute, we found out the particular trail we had wanted to hike remained washed out by last winter's flooding.
So, last night, Ms. Merrinuts and neighbor decided to change the trail to one that would be available and "not too bad" in another area. Still feeling invincible, I agreed to the change of plans. The hike was listed as a "moderate" hike still in the Central Cascade region. Interestingly though, three different guide books gave THREE DIFFERENT mileages for the trail, ranging from 6 miles round trip to 8 miles. This should have been a "sign".
We loaded up at what would be the crack of dawn for me (9:30AM) and headed for the Summit of the I-90 corridor to our trail head. Four of us met Ms. Merrinuts (who had probably been up at the true "crack of dawn" because she IS a morning person!) and her beauty queen black lab, Lucy. Armed with backpacks full of food, trail items, cameras, and our cutting edge sense of humor, we began the looooooooong ascent upward on the trail. It was a blue sky sort of day with temps in the low 70's...who could have asked for more on a hike?
About half way up the first 2 miles of the trail, my body began to send me signals it "might" want to mutiny on me...breathing became a bit difficult (remember folks...I just had CHEMO 15 days ago and I have far less red blood cells floating around than YOU do!) and I was completely and utterly drenched in sweat. I looked like I had been swimming in a lake. But still, I climbed. Not wanting to be a party pooper party planner, I trudged onward.
After about an hour and a half of what seemed by now to be a straight upward climb to hell, we reached the "ridge". It was a beautiful ridge with views like this:
At the "ridge" (or "saddle", as it is rightly called in trail terms), we decided to stop on a sunny rock and drain our backpacks of the food we were toting. Snow Lake (the true destination) shimmered far below with an elevation drop of about 500 feet. It was at this point I should have listened to the tiny angel sitting on my shoulder saying, "You can stop now. Let the rest of these lovely cherubs climb down to the lake." But instead...I followed the advice of the devil on my left shoulder taunting me and saying, "Get off your ass and get down there! It's not that far."
I really WAS glad I followed the advisory devil's advice initially...the lake water was wonderful and cool and the view was absolutely like something painted by an artist. Ms. Merrinuts entertained all of us by doing a butt plant unexpectedly in the lake waters and we laughed and breathed in the fresh mountain air.
But then, it was time to leave. And leaving meant climbing BACK up the 500 foot elevation cliff to the saddle, then back down the 3 mile trail to the cars...I considered requesting my friends hike out and send a helicopter back for me. I considered just accepting I had lived a good life and remaining by the lake...forever. I considered LOTS of options, but the only viable one was to get up, get back on the trail, and hike my way out!!!
At about mile number 6 (and my satellite GPS tracker clocked the entire trail at 7.4 miles, thank you very much!), the pain in my legs and feet vanished. One might have seen this as a good thing, but it was not...my legs had gone numb! By the time we reached the trail head and our vehicles, I think I had become a bit delirious...I got the giggles and couldn't walk another step or quit laughing to myself! My neighbor drove my car home FOR me, while Saint EB and another coworker dozed quietly in the back seat...it was oddly nice to see I wasn't the ONLY ONE completely tuckered out!
Some people have problems with their eyes being bigger than their bellies when it comes to food...I tend to have a problem with my MIND being bigger than my body when it comes to activity. I think the clinical term for that is GRANDIOSE...LOL...