Tuesday, April 12, 2011

My First Mountain Hike to the Top

After all that I have been through these last couple of months, it feels good to accomplish something that put a smile on my face that hasn't been there for some time now. Plus, I got to make it to the top of the mountain with a great friend (Ashley...you are awesome) in which it happened to be her first time, as well. We both popped our cherries that day so to speak! And you just can't beat that from 2 chicks.

Mission Peak can be seen from her backyard (see previous post)and Sunday was the day we decided to hike it. We were supposed to get up early to hike the mountain, while the sun was rising. However, we (er...I mean really Ashley) slept in and we couldn't get out there until 9 a.m. This mountain is roughly 2,000 ft and looks like the rolling hills of Ireland. When we got there, we had to park really far away, because it was so packed. There were people everywhere. But the good news is that most people start with 700 ft already done if they parked in the small parking lot by the mountain trail entrance. We didn't get that luxary and pretty much parked at the base of the mountain. So, we had the full climb whereas the other people cheated (that's right, they cheated).

As we started, it was fine, not too bad, but then it started to get steep. Ashley and I huffed and puffed to the first lookout point to not only take our picture, but to take a much needed break. We couldn't understand why people didn't look like they were about to die as I'm sure we looked like when we collasped on to the rocks. This is when I started to call everyone that ran or skipped or looked so happy just hiking away, "Showoffs." We continued this all the way to the top of the mountain.

On this part is where I learned that Ashley is obsessed to see cows on the mountain (and she lived in Texas for some years).

The view was breathtaking even though we weren't even close to the halfway point of the mountain. There was still too much of a haze to see San Francisco, but you could see everything else.

After our long break, we continued up our path discussing where exactly the next lookout point was in relation to where we were at on the mountain. It seemed far away and the top seemed farther. However, there were more stops along the way and I took advantage of each one (and some other ones that we...er...I created). The scenery was so beautiful.

We saw some wild turkeys.

The next few pictures show my transgression of exhaustion.

Ashley and I kept on trekking, watching the view and our step. At this point, we were running out of time, because of my slowness and the breaks. Going to the top was a distant thought, something that we could do the next time I was in town (and motivation for me to come more often). We took the shortcut routes up the hill, mainly because it was shorter; however, they were usually steeper or rockier. On our way down, we learned that every shortcut we took was not allowed (there was no sign damnit).

When we got close to the top, our time was running out and I honestly didn't think I could make it. My thighs were burning at this point, my breathing was all over the place, and my ankle was starting to hurt. The pictures below show me questioning my ability, exhaustion, and pain.

But we ran in to this lady who told me that I had to climb to the top, because she is trying to talk herself out of it, as well. So, I forged on. She left us for awhile (and apparently could get great cell coverage), but we caught up with her. The last 100 ft was steep and rocky, but we made it...to the top. It was such a crazy experience and I just couldn't stop smiling. We tried to take our picture with this rod thing that was stuck in the rocks, but there were so many people. So, we walked 20 ft away to the less crowded area so that we could take our picture with both sides of the mountain view. Which one of the top pictures do you like best? I'm framing one of them, but I don't know which one looks better.

I'm so glad that I pushed it even though I barely made my flight. I don't care, it was worth it. I'm not sure how many calories I burned, but I know that workout was far better than any run or stairmaster. I can't wait to do it again...faster. I did learn a few things:
1. Stretch, stretch, and more stretch.
2. Always wear a t-shirt when you climb so that if it gets hot, you don't have to drench your flannel with sweat.
3. Always wear layers so that you can adapt to the changing temperatures.
4. Read all the signs at the bottom of the mountain so you aren't yelled at by the Ranger (although I contend that it didn't say anything about rocks nor can you tell whether or not there are a line of rocks blocking the path at the bottom when you are at the top).
5. ALWAYS wear interchangeable pants...ones that you can turn in to shorts like Ashley (showoff).
6. Use walking sticks. We really could have used these going up and especially going down.

I'm in Colorado now and I have plans to hike around this area, as well. And yes, I'm running (in the hotel gym), but I will put that on later posts.

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