Tuesday, August 27, 2013

2013 -- week 33 -- that time we almost died on a mountain

i don't think i understand hiking. 

don't get me wrong, i understand the desire to explore the world and to summit mountains. i guess i'm just confused as to why hiking is the means of transportation that one has to use to accomplish those things. and again, i understand it's "just walking" and people have been doing it for centuries, but i'm still a little baffled by the whole thing; maybe because i suck at it.

this past weekend we had planned to drive up to flagstaff to climb mt. humphries, the tallest mountain in arizona. but there was a forecast of rain, so rcg and i decided to cancel and do a hike around tucson. we met up with some friends at too early o'clock at the pima canyon trailhead and started off on our 12 mile (!) hike. i was feeling pretty confident because the first couple of miles are fairly flat, but that all changed a couple of hours/miles in: when we were stung by wasps. ouch. but we decided to keep going, and as we did, the trail started to climb. and climb. and climb. 

when we finally got to the top, a couple of hours later, the views were amazing. all of tucson was laid out in front of us. and we had a perfect view of finger rock, a tucson landmark.

 but then it was time to go back down. and going down is where i really struggle. my knees have been wonky for years, but every time i go hiking i seem to forget how bad they really are. so it didn't take very long for me to lag behind, but the guys i was with were super supportive and encouraging. and they really helped us make it off of that mountain alive -- i know that sounds a little melodramatic, but it was a little touch and go for a while. (long story short: because my knees were so angry about hiking, i took a long time, which made rcg run out of water, yadda yadda yadda, disaster.)

we celebrated our survival by hanging out in the pool and an early bed time! and with the realization that beyond the normal blister here and there, i may actually lose three of my toenails as a result of this endeavor. 

thanks again to jc and ts -- you guys are real lifesavers.
and thanks to rcg, who never left me. tkm.

as a result of all of this i have a couple pieces of advice (ie. things i should have known ahead of time):

  • bring more water than you think can possibly be necessary. in fact, double whatever amount you were just thinking of bringing. it might be heavy at the beginning, but it gets lighter as you go, and can save your life.
  • bring a couple of frozen gatorade/powerades. once everything else gets hot, those will start to melt, and the cold can really do wonders for your morale.
  • alternately, bring a lot of electrolytes. the frozen gatorade/powerade will help with this, but it's important to bring other things too. we really like sport beans, but peanuts, bananas, pretzels, jerky, and any number of other things can be very helpful as well.
  • check the weather -- the day we hiked had a record high for tucson, which might not have been as bad if we knew what to expect.
  • wear pants -- you never know what the trail is going to look like, and it would be better to be a little hot, than to get cut up.
  • wear a hat. it's sunny; protect yourself.
  • if you know you have injuries or parts of your body that are likely to go wonky half way through, prepare for that. (i should have brought knee braces, and i didn't. oops.)
  • don't be afraid to ask for help or to let the people you're with know you need to stop. y'all are in it together, and if you don't speak up it could be worse for everyone. (this is something i have a hard time doing, so this trip really humbled me.)
  • and enjoy yourself and your surroundings!

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