Sunday, January 17, 2010

My first mountain (time warp) hike!

Holy Cow. I don't know where to start!

As I mentioned in my previous post, I spent a fair amount of time last week getting us prepared for a proper mountain hike. No matter what time of year it is here, there can be snow and storms up high in the mountains and you don't want to get caught unprepared.

So Rich chose a route for us and programmed it into the new hiking GPS I got him for Christmas. We are still fuzzy on how to use the thing fully, but we are working on that... lol

The route he chose was the Tanglewood Trail in Pike National Forest. We went to the Deer Creek campground in Bailey to the trailhead. We were aiming for the Pegmatite Points.

We were dressed well, packed well, and excited. When we got out of the car, the first thing I noticed was that our present altitude was close 10,000 feet- where we live is 5460 feet, so already a good jump upwards.

We started off and the trail wastes no time in ascending. Before long I was huffing and puffing- and shortly after that I had to stop to catch my breath. I am an embarrassment to high-altitude hikers... We had to stop really often to catch our breath, and I couldn't believe how hard it was to go just a short way!

It was cool to hear the creek bubbling away under the ice and snow and I am sure it was a beautiful sight all around me, only I couldn't really look, and often didn't want to, as the trail kept going upwards and I was wondering how on earth I was going to make it!

There were some icy spots and we had to really work our way around them so as not to slip and fall.

Here is where the time warp reference comes in. We stopped to check how far along on the trail we were and I was SHOCKED to see more than two hours had passed since we left the car! NO WAY! I just couldn't believe it. No wonder I felt so hungry!

Of course we stopped a couple of times to switch our clothes and such, being greenhorns we haven't gotten it all figured out just yet. We were both very thankful not to be with a group, we would have hated holding others up. But as it was just the two of us, it was no big deal. AND it gave me yet another chance to slow down my pounding heart and regulate my breathing again.

We kept thinking we were getting close to our goal of the saddle where we could see both Rosalie and the Pegmatite Points, but we really weren't. We finally had to stop to have some lunch and assess whether we felt fit enough to proceed.

Our lunch stop was less than 20 minutes because it was really cold, colder than I had realized when I was moving. I had my gloves off only for part of my lunch time and to visit the bushes (lol) but I was really sorry that I had them off at all, they got SOOO cold that I could barely manage my poles. Thankfully we had brought along our really warm gloves too, and I put them on along with my warm layer, and we got ready to head back. Neither of us felt up to ascending any further, which is a shame, I really wanted to see the peaks. But honestly, I couldn't have made it! My fingers ached and burned for a good twenty minutes.

I figured the trip back would be easier and I guess going down IS easier, but I also found out that going down on icy patches is MUCH trickier than going up on it. I will say that I enjoyed the scenery more on the way down though, because I wasn't having any breathing difficulties.

Going up we were traveling much more slowly because of the air and the incline. Going down the steep decline and momentum made it a lot harder to travel slowly where we needed to. This is where the trekking poles became VERY handy. I can say that I learned how to use them really well today! Still I did slip and almost go down on a knee. Tomorrow will tell if I actually hurt it or not, I suppose.

The ascent took us over two hours, the descent just an hour and ten minutes. Going up I was so busy trying to breathe that it didn't feel as though we were getting much exercise for our muscles. But I can tell you now, I was much mistaken. I am feeling stiff and definitely that today's hike was a thorough workout.

Today was a great day, and I learned a LOT. I learned that there are good reasons for all the stuff they tell you are "essentials" on a mountain hike.

I also learned that some things are well-worth spending some money on to ensure comfort, like boots, a backpack, and clothing.

Most of all I was reminded that there is so much beauty around us if we will just go out and spend some time in the great outdoors!

Here are some photos we took today. Like the ice patch? Me either! lol

Lovely hike at Deer Creek Canyon

Last Sunday we went for a nice hike just outside of town here, at Deer Creek Canyon. We had a lovely day for it, so the visibility when we got higher up was great! We could see Denver downtown off in the distance; sometimes I don't remember it is that close...

After our hike we went to get fitted for our backpacks. Who knew you had to be fitted??? Well, the people at REI, for one! lol

They have this board you strap on (like a backpack) so they can tell you what size and length you should be carrying. Then they take you to the racks, find one in your size, load 10 lbs of weight in it, and make you walk around the store with it on to see how it feels. I felt a little stupid doing it at first, but then figured since I didn't know anyone in the store except Rich, why worry? lol And it made a whole lot of sense to really be able to try it out.

So we both found one that fit pretty well and we brought them home. Rich ordered me a set of trekking poles; we have a set but discovered that in the slippery ice and mud, having two might be better. Plus we want to do some snowshoeing and they will help with that too.

Then later this week, I compiled my shopping list from the Colorado Mountain Club site to set us up; first aid supplies, fire-starting stuff, etc. It was so fun!

We wanted to be ready (or as much as possible) to go on a more challenging hike this week. Here are a few photos from the Deer Creek Canyon hike, enjoy!

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