Sunday, June 16, 2013

Take a Hike!

Joel decided we should all go on a hike on Saturday, so he picked a trail, we packed some snacks, and together with Chris and Jackie we hit the road early on Saturday morning. Joel picked the Mt. Washington as our destination. The guide book states it is a four mile round-trip hike with an elevation gain of about 1600. LIARS! Here is the true story, of four family members, who decided to hike together...

Jackie, Chris, Joel, and I ready to start our hike!
We arrived at the trail head near the Olallie State Park, just off I-90. We hiked up a short trail that connected with the old logging road, which we followed for about five minutes before we had our first round of confusion. The logging road split into two directions and the sign posted included about every hiking trail possible, except the trail we were looking for.  To our luck, two other hikers came along and offered to show us to the proper trailhead. Had we brought my guidebook, it would have told us to follow "an unmarked trail which dips down slightly as it heads into the woods and then begins to climb." Actually, there are two trails that do this. The first trail you come across is the "not this one" trail, which our volunteer guides pointed out. The correct unmarked trail was the second one came to. Thank heavens for kind people, otherwise this might have turned into a missing persons report! Who knows where we would have ended up!

Jackie and Me
With renewed confidence, we eagerly started on our journey. The trail followed a couple switchbacks and climbed upward at a reasonable pace. We passed some beautiful scerency and enjoyed ourselves.

At about one mile, we had enough of the steady, steep upward climb and were ready for even the smallest bit of level ground. Joel had been promising us the trail leveled out at the one mile mark, but it never came. EVER.

This is what Chris and Joel do when we ask them to pose for a picture together!
We passed another hiker who was headed back down the trail and started up a conversation. He was feeling a bit misled by the guidebook. I remember him saying to us, as we tried to catch our breath, "I was just looking for nice easy hike to start out my summer, this is not what I had in mind!" He had reached the two mile "view point" and turned around. He gave us a few pointers regarding how much farther we had to go and what to look for and we parted ways.

This picture hardly gives the steepness of the trail justice... but Joel is very sweaty so you get the idea...
After another mile of blaming Joel for the difficult upward battle we had all been struggling with, we made it to the two mile "view point". It was beautiful and we were grateful for the reward.

The view from the Two Mile View Point... we want more.
After taking a few pictures, catching our breath, and blaming Joel some more, we decided to go for it! We were going to follow this trail all the way to the top, or at least give it a try. We followed the trail upward and onward, through luch forests and granite hillsides.

At about the 2.5 mile mark, Chris felt he was slowing the group down and urged us to continue on without him.  After a heated discussion filled with statements like, "no way, this is how scary movies start, didn't you guys learn to never split up!", "are there bears in these woods", "why didn't we pack our shortwave radios", "we are going to end up on the news, I just know it", and "well okay fine, but here take some of my food", we left Chris behind. This sounds terrible, I know, but it was his idea! Jackie, Joel, and I continued on the trail and Chris followed behind us, but at his pace.

It took the three of us about another hour to travel the remaining mile and half to the summit. I was working hard to keep putting one foot in front of the other and was using every bit of energy I had. But when I saw the nearly 360* view and the sweeping landscape, I was so glad we pushed ourselves. The view from the top of Mt. Washington is amazing!

Remember as you look at this pictures of me... I just finished climbing a four mile high mountain!

We made it! If only Chris was here...
We sat on a rock cropping and ate our lunches while soaking in the amazing landscape. I glared at Joel who was eating a delicious looking turkey sandwich, while I ate my not so appetizing tuna and avocado salad I had packed for myself. It was day six of my cleanse and I wasn't going to cheat!

The view while I ate my lunch...
After pausing to take pictures, eat our snacks, rehydrate and rest a bit, we decided to head back down the mountain to find Chris. We had tried a couple times to call Chris to let him know that we had reached the summit but he wasn't answering the phone which made Jackie nervous. We tried to reason with our fears; it could be he doesn't have service where he is or maybe he turned the phone off... but if it had been Joel that was separated from the group, I would have feared the worse!

We started back down the mountain to find Chris at a run. Literally. We were running back down the trail. Jackie was convinced that Chris hadn't made it much farther than the spot where we left him, about a mile and a half down the trail. If you had told me on my way up the mountain, that I would be running back down it, I probably would have pushed you into a tree and kicked dirt on your shoes.

We had been running down the trail for about five minutes when all of a sudden my heart was in my throat and I was struggling to piece together what I was seeing! It was Chris jumping out from a bunch of boulders, growling like a bear. Chris said the three of us came flying down the trail, came a complete stop and just stood there dazed and confused; he thought it was pretty funny.

We were all so surprised to see Chris and so excited to see that bear hadn't eaten him, not a single limb was missing! We convinced Chris to continue up the trail and make it to the summit, so back up we all went. Once again,  if you had told me on my way up the mountain, that I would be summit the mountain twice in a single day, I probably would have stolen your snacks and poked you with a stick.

It was wonderful to summit the mountain together, all four of us! I was so thankful that Chris had made it all the way. I was really impressed! Chris had been a smoker for several years and even though he quit years ago, has struggled with catching his breath on our long hikes in the past. Recently, Chris has been changing a few things and clearly he has what it takes! After a few more pictures, snacks and water, we headed back down, this time as a group.

Now this feels better! We did it!
The way back down the mountain is always hard. It is steep, you're a lot more tired than you think you are, the best part is over and all you want to do is shower and be home. But we still had four miles of downhill trail to travel. I was wearing my new pair of hiking boots and my left ankle was not very comfortable at all. I stopped at one point and covered it with a large bandage we had with us, hoping it would help, but unfortunately it only eased the pain for about twenty minutes. By the time we reached the car, I was barely hanging on.

It was a struggle for me to keep up good humor while enduring so much pain, but I kept telling myself, "you have no other option, you have to walk down off the mountain, you have to keep going, slow and steady, you have no other option". Joel, Jackie and Chris noticed I was hurting and tried to help me, but there wasn't much that could be done. By the time we reached the car, we were a sad group. Chis lost about half an inch of skin off his right pinkie toe from rubbing in his shoes, my ankle and knees were making the slightest movement painful, Joel felt guilty for picking the hike and Jackie was exhausted.

The car ride home was quiet but we were all in agreement, it was a great experience. We pushed ourselves and accomplished an amazing feat!

Joel tracked our adventure using his Endomondo app and here are the stats:
Miles Traveled: 8 miles
Total Elevation Gain: 3,517
Max. Altitude: 4,432
Time to Hike to the Summit: 3 hours and 2 minutes (average speed of 1.3 mph)
Time to Hike back down: 2 hours and 37 minutes (average speed of 1.7 mph)
Total Calories Burned: 3,651


  1. You guys do so many cool hikes, I want to go with you one of these days...

    Sarah @ Life As Always

  2. Wow that is a crazy hike! I would have died. I swear there is nothing worse than your feet or ankles being in pain and you have to keep walking. Definitely a gorgeous view though!