Monday, October 18, 2004

Trip Journal -- Day Three

11 Oct. 2004

Every morning, our schedule appeared on a dry erase board.

We went through three locks last night.  I know.  Still, interrupted sleeps beats all hell out of no sleep -- and with a full belly of scrambled eggs, bacon, and fruit, I was ready to take on the hike, er, walk, er, maybe the hike.

See, they tender us to some ... land.  (I believe it's in Washington State someplace, as we've turned onto the Snake from the Columbia) and there's a 3/4 mile gravel path to a lookout.  From here, you can decide whether to take the hike.  The distance is 3 miles (although whether that includes the mile and a half round trip on the gravel path, I'm not certain).  The catch is that it gains about 700 feet in elevation.  And there's no more path -- just a trail, and some scrambling over rocks.

Peer pressure is a terrible thing.

I didn't want to go on the hike.  I said I wouldn't go on the hike.  I was winded at the lookout.

I went on the hike.  Because I was in the third tender from the boat, I had about 5 minutes to make up my mind at the lookout.  I caught my breath.  Some 45 people (nearly all upwards of 15 years my senior) were going or had already left on the hike.  About the only one sitting it out was that nice lady with the cane.

I had dressed for it and brought water -- in case I decided to go.  So, at least, I was prepared to go.  Good plan.

Could not have been about 10 minutes into the hike part when we reached the first "path, what path?" bit.  (It was, actually, going downhill.)  Six senior citizens easily picked their way down it with no problem, while I held up the rest of the group behind me, trying to find footing.  I apologized a lot and continued on.  Bitching all the way.  Largely because of my major stupidity in not packing my hiking poles.  Or even one pole.  A friend of mine who uses crutches calls herself a "quadruped."  I think about that a lot when I'm going up and down these inclines without a pole.  I need that extra "leg."

I had my near-predictable mini-breakdown fairly near the top.  It wasn't too far, but it looked to be nearly straight up and I saw no way of getting up it (much less getting back down) without, oh, murdering that woman who'd had the presence of mind to bring a pole, hiding the body, and stealing the pole.  And that would be an awful lot of work.  Besides, the ship has a "leave no trace" policy, which I'm sure I'd be violating by leaving a corpse out there in nature.

I ask my guide if I can stay there and wait for them to return, but I can't.  Our guide has to keep us all together.  One lady offers me some of her water, and another gives me a tissue for my runny nose. 

And then, enter Andrew.  Andrew is a photographer.  Andrew has a huge pack on his back with all his camera equipment to take pictures at the top of the hike.  Andrew, who apparently had no clue of my murder plans, said, "I've got a walking stick in my pack if you want one."

I blink and have that, "I'm saved!  I'm saved!" expression.  I eagerly dig into his pack and meet:  the monopod.  It's one sturdy little bastard.  A collapsible metal stand used for camera balancing, which can easily double as a walking stick.  Andrew is happy to let me use his monopod to get up and down the hill -- I only have to agree to give it back up top so he can put his camera on it.  A deal is immediately struck.  (I fully intend to find Andrew tonight at Happy Hour and buy him a beer.)  I make it up the mountain fine.  I take pictures.

Pretty, huh?  I have to admit, the view was glorious.  And let me point out that I started off on a BOAT.  Which is to say, this walking venture began way down there where the water is.

The guides are a little concerned about the hike back because we haven't got too much time.  ("I know," says our guide to the other, "But we had to stop and take a rest break."  I add, cheerfully, "That would be me.")  They're a little worried because we've got about an hour to get back to the ship and, "some people take longer going down."  ("Really?" I think, "Are they looking pointedly in my direction?")

I actually didn't take long going down at all.  (I was nearly the first one back from our group.)  A nice man stayed with me during the rocky bit at the top, helping me pick a path down the rocks.  And yay for the monopod.  Having a stick to plant and hold your weight makes all the difference.

There may also have been something about the altitude.  I had no real idea what 700 feet was (and then I thought of that lock yesterday, and thought, "seven times that").  But on the way back, although my feet began to hurt and I was still pretty pooped, my breathing was nowhere near as labored.  I thought it was just 'cause downhill is easier than uphill -- but then one of the ladies pointed out that we'd started at some altitude already and it was just easier to get air when we were lower down.  Good point.

Quick photo looking back up the hill from the path back down.  We were at the tippy top of that far hill in the distance.

There's kayaking in the afternoon -- a 1 hour, 2 hour, or 3 hour session.  Yesterday, I did an hour and a half -- and would have cheerfully gone for 2 today had I not yielded to the pressure and hiked -- but, as it stands, I'm quite happy the one-hour wuss option is out there.

1 comment:

tammyg22 said...

>>Besides, the ship has a "leave no trace" policy, which I'm sure I'd be violating by leaving a corpse out there in nature.<<

Well, said corpse would have been biodegradable, so perhaps it would've been okay.

>>But on the way back, although my feet began to hurt and I was still pretty pooped, my breathing was nowhere near as labored.<<

I'm sure the nice lady was right about the increasing oxygen, but it's also true that down is easier on the cardiovascular system and harder on the knees and joints.  Just sayin'.