Tuesday, April 23, 2013

In which we hike far. Maybe.

Trail off of the Appalachian Trail. Credit: ChinMusic's trail journal on trail journals.com

I've kind of felt like I belong on the Chunky Gal trail lately. Too much work, not enough time outside. It all builds up to becoming a Cranky McCrankerson. A lunch time run or an hour in the gym just doesn't cut it. So when the Freak of Nature was up for a hike of epic proportions, I agreed. When you haven't done anything long in a while, you start to doubt your fitness and ability. My long hike is coming up in three months, and a few runs wouldn't do it. You need time on your feet. Hours of time on your feet, with a pack.

Choices were slim. Snow was still falling in the mountains. It would be the lowlands again, this time to complete the loop, the distance of which we had no idea. I forgot the GPS, which in retrospect might have been a good decision. It's freeing to not know exactly where you are, how high you have climbed, and how far you have gone. At least I think so.
Up on Starvation Ridge. We certainly weren't starving. This time, I brought plenty of food.

Dropping in, committed to the day.

Hard to see in this picture, but a trail zigzags down the open slope here from Miller Ridge into Swamp Creek. There used  to be a telegraph line that went to the old Chico Ranger Station, accessible only by foot and horse. Back in the days of real work!

This log crossing was a little sketch.

Lovely little springtime creeks.

Canyon topography to keep things interesting.
At about the ten mile mark, we came upon the confluence of Swamp and Davis Creeks. It was a lovely grassy flat, perfect for camping, but we had miles to go and pressed on. Shortly before that, a random guy on a trail bike buzzed past us. You could tell he was surprised to see us, but he had no time to react. We didn't either. This was the only person we saw in eight hours.

That's the thing about all day endeavors, whether it's running or hiking or climbing. Sooner or later you have to face yourself in the silence between conversations. It can be the most honest time there is.

We slogged up the final slope to the car, having covered fifteen or eighteen or fourteen miles and climbed either three thousand or two thousand or five thousand feet. It didn't matter. I get that it matters to some people. It used to matter to me. Now I measure my outings in different, more ephemeral ways.

This week it's back to wrestling the same alligators, in which I try to bridge the gap between the life I want and the one I have. It's not a big gap;  it could require only a small leap of faith. With enough long hikes, I will figure out how to get there.


  1. I like hiking without a GPS too, it is annoying to me to see how slow my walking pace actually is, so I always leave it at home.

    Sounds like a fun hike, you seem to have great adventure opportunities really close to home..I wish I did, it is a pretty big drive for things here.

  2. Beautiful!!!!!! I wish I loved to just walk and hike, I get so wrapped up and forget to enjoy the moment.

  3. So, not only do you explore beautiful places, but you write beautifully.

    I think I need to do more hiking...

  4. You summed it up perfectly - it's the "silence between conversations," that solitude one finds on a trail that continuously draws me back. Great read! Thanks!

  5. I'm hankering for a good hike. I was HOME today. Drove up to the valley to do some shopping, pick up a few things out of the shop. I really wanted to load up my kayak and do a lap on the lake, I read that the ice is all melted off now. But I didn't want to disturb the new tenants with too much coming and going and I really couldn't afford the time in addition to my round trip driving time and all my errands (I DO have school work to do). Sigh. I won't be long though, and it was so wonderful just to be in the valley for a few hours. I'll be up on Starvation Ridge soon. It's almost May!


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