Monday, July 4, 2011

Cross training, indeed!

I spent a couple days of the holiday weekend at my folks' mountain cabin with my DH, parents and my brother.

Anyway, my brother and dad talked me in to going on a hike with them on Saturday and since I really needed to get a little exercise/cross training in, I decided this would be a great opportunity. We decided to tackle a hike rated as "difficult" on the USDA Forest Service site. Not sure what exactly classifies something as 'difficult' according to the government, but their assessment was right on target.

There are a LOT more switchbacks than what are shown on this map!
Now, I have to tell you that I went into this with my eyes wide open as my brother has done this hike previously and warned me that it is brutal, but still the reality is sometime so much different than what you have built up in your mind. This hike as it turns out is 2,200 feet of elevation gain spread out over 2.8 miles - this equates to a 15.3% grade... an incline you would never dream of taking a motor vehicle up or worse, down... even if it were paved!

Fortunately, the trail was really beautiful. Lots of shade not to mention the fact that all the Rhodies were in bloom as was the Bear Grass and some other plants which me, not being a green thumb of any sort couldn't identify. We even ran into snow about 2/3 of the way up the trail.

It took us almost three hours to reach the end of the trail (it's the nominal summit - the real summit is another mile & 500 feet of elevation of bush whacking so we opted out) which is a precipice at 4100 ft. that used to house a forest service lookout post and has a nearly 360º view that overlooks the North Fork of the Santiam River Valley as well as offers a great view of Mt. Jefferson and surrounding peaks. Despite it being a little hazy we could also make out some of the mountains of the Coast Range such as Mary's Peak. All in all a wonderful view and worth the hike.

Dad & Me with Mt. Jefferson in the background
I think one of the mistakes that many people (us included) make is that we don't really take the return trip into account when we're making our way up the slope. You just think about how after 3 hours of uphill, you'll finally be able to go downhill. But what you forget is that downhill, especially steep downhill, can really take a toll on your body physically. Yes, you don't have the cardio-vascular workout that the uphill presents (all three of us were soaked w/ sweat by the time we reached the top), but you use an entirely different set of muscles that don't get exercised as regularly (let's face it, most of us who run focus on the difficulties of running uphill, not down). For my dad, as hard as the uphill was, the downhill was worse because he was completely spent by the end, but it still requires a steady foot to not hurt yourself while traversing uneven trails or even worse, a couple decent size rock fields. For my brother and I, although we fared better, we were still pretty drained when we got down off the mountain and here it is two days later and I'm still feeling it in muscles that I don't normally feel.
Kent (my brother, aka Heather's husband) & Me
Still, it was a really enjoyable day and a great way to get in a bit of cross training that I don't normally have the chance at.

Here's hoping everyone has had a happy and safe Independence Day!

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