Friday, April 17, 2015


I learned some new things today. I learned that I am not as fit as I thought I was.
I walk between three and six miles daily. I hiked up to five miles a day while at Rancho La Puerta in February, and was able to keep up on those hikes with my friend Shelby (who is an extreme distance runner), so I thought I could hike 3 miles round-trip. I learned today that I am not aerobically fit - not very.

David has been working weekends, so weekdays are his weekends, and he was kind enough to invite me to accompany him to Mt. Ellinor, where he has been wanting to hike. There is a six-mile trip and a three-mile trip. Six sounded like more of a challenge, but the second half is considered extremely steep, so to play it safe (for me), we started at the upper trailhead. Thank goodness we did!

The elevation gain was about 2,400 feet in 1.5 miles; oh my goodness. David is quite fit; I was panting and sweating from the beginning, as the trail headed steeply uphill and never stopped. Long rocky steps, slushy snow, mud, switchbacks and scree alternated with each other. The trail was beautifully maintained, and we had a gloriously mild, "bluebird" spring day in which to enjoy the natural world of the Olympic Peninsula. But I was not nearly fit enough for this trip, and it showed immediately.

The summit views were spectacular. We saw two white mountain goats on a snowfield below the summit; we saw Mt. Baker, Mt. Rainier, Mt. Adams and a panorama of the Olympic Mountain range. I truly enjoyed the hike on the way down. But going up was a hard slog.
Summit view to the west - Olympic Mountains in the background
Summit view to the north, with Hood Canal partially obscured by high clouds
I learned that it's easy to get discouraged on a steep trail if you are: A) too hot; B) thirsty or hungry; C) at all subject to vertigo. I learned that stopping to rest is necessary if you want to make the summit. I learned that my hiking boots are comfortable, but have crappy traction in the snow.
And I learned some things about David, whose generous gifts of patience, coaching and willingness to understand my fatigue (and my dismay at that fatigue) were beyond what I could have asked him to extend to me. He was a true gentleman with his encouragement and kindness, when he could have done the hike in far less time, with far less trouble, without me. I am blessed that he invited me to spend the day with him, and he never once said a word of criticism.
On the summit
I feel humbled, happy to be home, and (as the British say) "knackered." If I am lucky enough to be invited to hike with David again, it will be something less than a "4 out of 5" for difficulty!


jandi said...

Ha! At least you made it! What a view! X

Daisy said...

What gorgeous photos! Thank you for allowing me to live vicariously without the accompanying physical discomfort! Good for you for making it to the top! Way to go, Karen!!

And good on David for taking good care of his mum! Wow, talk about strong and compassionate character. What a sweetheart.

Kay said...

That pretty much describes me on any hike that includes altitude. I love the scenery but aerobically I have a super SUPER hard time. My peeps fly on ahead and I stop and start and gasp and carry on and finally get there. So I feel your pain. I would add to your list of complications...needing to 'go'. Yes, I'm a city girl. ; )

Busy Bee Suz said...

Wow. I'm so proud of you for taking on this challenge though. What a gift to spend time in nature with your sweet/patient son! I love the term knackered; I'll have to use that one after my challenging gym sessions. HA.
Gorgeous views my friend....and you should give yourself a pat on the back for this!!!

Elizabeth said...

Well, to tell you the truth, this makes me want to crawl into a hole and never come out. If YOU are out of shape, then what hope do I have of ever getting back into shape?