Tuesday, June 22, 2010

California Anecdote #2

The hike.....oh sweet jesus, the hike.

My poor knees. My poor heart. My poor lungs.

Since the day we arrived in California, my brother was all amped up about this mountain hike he wanted to take us on. My brother has known me for over 26 years. he knows full well I am not a hiker. I complain on the days I have to walk 30 minutes to work. And that's all downhill. My aversion to walking is well known. But he seemed so excited about it, I couldn't dissapoint him. So I reluctantly agreed.

Prior to our adventure, I knew I would need to buy myself some footwear a little more substantial than the 2 pairs of flips flops I brought. Not wanting to spend $40 on a pair of running shoes that I wouldn't be able to take home in my carry-on, I settled on a pair of sensible $6.85 Keds.

Lesson learned. $6 children's shoes do not proper hiking boots make.

What my brother failed to mention, until we arrived at the base of Garrapata in Big Sur, was that he had only ever completed this hike once. And it took about 4.5 hours. And that he'd tried it before with some visiting relatives and they turned back after a short time. And that it can take up to 6 hours, depending on your hiking "ability".

For any of you unfamiliar with this area of Big Sur, allow me to share what I discovered on a hiking website, when I Googled it.

"Rocky Ridge Trail will be more enjoyable for the gung-ho hiker than the novice. The trail ascends very steeply as it climbs Rocky Ridge. Then, after gaining the ridge, hikers must descend an extremely steep mile (we’re talking about a 20 to 30 percent grade here) to connect to Soberanes Canyon Trail. The leg-weary, or those simply looking for an easier walk, will simply stroll through the redwoods of Soberanes Canyon and not attempt Rocky Ridge Trail."

One has to watch out for poison oak, which Ranger Tyler was kind enough to point out.

At one point he also informed me he had just flung a baby black window off my shoulder.

We also had to be on the lookout for mountain lions. Which thankfully we didn't see. At on epoint, I vaguely remember stating, "Well, at least we've gone this far without seeing any snakes."

Oh, wait.

So the trek started off pretty good. I still found time to behave like a jackass, re-enacting Dirty Dancing scenes and generally being a smug idiot.

Within an hour into the hike, we hadn't even really started tackling any kind of incline yet. It was a "lesisurely" stroll, through streams and Redwood forests. So far, I've teared up once. And fallen twice. We encountered some friendly hikers who offered to take our photo. Notice the dried blood on my left knee.

I'm pretty sure for the next 4 hours, I used every curse word known to man. I may have threatened my brother's life. I may have also broken down and told the rest of the group to just leave me and go on alone. At that point, I honestly thought dying alone on a remote mountainside would be preferable to continuing the trek uphill.

I was clearly the Achilles Heel of the group. I made us stop every 10 steps so I could catch my breathe. I wish I were exaggerating.

I will admit, that the scenery was the most amazing thing ever. Between trying not to collapse and hyperventiliating, I probably didn't get to enjoy it as much as I should have. Fortunately, we got lots of photos so I could enjoy them later, with a clearer head.

I also had to pee at the top. I would have given anything for a roll of toilet paper and some privacy at that point. Anyways, my mood immediately improved once I realized that we had passed the most difficult point and that the final hour of our trip would be all downhill. Literally. My brother pointed out that I seemed like a "changed person". I couldn't argue with that.

Once we reached the bottom, they had the nerve to ask whether I would ever do the hike again. They seemed genuinely surprised when I said no. I don't get some people.

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