I’ve been spending the time since my last post changing my life’s path. Choosing new places to challenge myself. Learning to connect in a more authentic way to the people who are most important in my life. Creating habits that will allow me to continue to adventure till I’m in my 100’s. I’ve enlisted my husband on the last one. We decided to hike Mt. Saint Helens in late September with a number of his co-workers who are all 10 or so years younger than us. We got our passes months before and had been not exactly putting off training, but not actually scheduling training, and mostly talking about training while driving someplace, eating dinner, or just before hitting play for the next episode of Luther on Netflix.
To be fair, we’re also remodeling our house. The entire first floor is being redone as we speak. Our upstairs is full of what was downstairs, and it’s kept us pretty busy. They say marriages often don’t survive home remodels. I have high expectations for us!
In any case, I glimpsed at our calendar and realized that we had a little over a month till the Big Hike. With visions of us sweaty and defeated long before the boulder field – the “old folks” quitting early and heading back to the campsite in defeat, I decided we needed a plan. I found a site that had 10 hikes to train for Mt. St. Helens. We picked 5 (escalated training plan) and scheduled it out. The first was Nick Eaton Trail in the Columbia Gorge. Nearly 10 miles and about a 2800 feet elevation gain. Let’s just say it kicked our butts.
For those of you who might be interested in doing this particular hike here are some key learnings and highlights:
First, use a map. Wait! First, go to the bathroom at home. There is a toilet at the parking lot that clearly states to leave the door open and close the toilet lid. Apparently people can’t read. Enough said. Second, use a map. We could not find the entrance to Nick Eaton and just decided to head up the trail that was marked for every other trail listed. There’s a number of them and they loop around. About a half mile in my husband; Craig, noticed he didn’t have his sunglasses. After much cursing and lamenting his never-ending bad luck, he headed back down the trail to find them. He returned winded, sweaty, and grumpy with his sun glasses a bit later and after he gave the bag a good kick we decided we continued up. It began so innocently with this lovely path.
The trail kicked my butt on the way up. For Real. If I was a quitter I certainly would have stopped half way up those crazy steep switchbacks. But we aren’t the quitting type so we egged each other on. It was beautiful and totally worth it. Ice cream stop on the way home because it was our off day and we don’t have to work out (ha-ha) and can eat whatever we want. (I had popcorn three times and once it was with caramel.) Hike two is either Dog Mountain (we’d done this one before -a little over 7 miles, and 2900 elevation gain) or Trapper Creek Loop (13 miles, 3200 elevation gain).
This adventuring life is hard work. Sometimes the trail you’re on twists and turns and you wind up someplace unexpected. Often there’s a fork and you get to choose which path to take. Sometimes the path is a grueling, gravel, uphill climb. And sometimes it’s a thrilling downhill run. Sometimes you’re lost, you run out of water, or your hiking partner loses his glasses on the trail and has to go back a mile to find them… cursing loudly, and lamenting his lot in life.
Life isn’t just about the destination. It isn’t even just about the path. It’s also about who you chose to take on your adventure. Bring good snacks, and a sense of humor.