I go for my hike most days. The only time I miss for the most part is when I spend all day in a vehicle. Last week was one of those days. I was out on the West Desert with a high adventure group. I didn't get much hiking in, but we did go rock climbing. On the way back to camp the storm that had plagued us all afternoon gave us this in compensation. The picture in NO way reflects the true grandeur of the scene spread out over the valley, but it'll give you the idea. Both rainbows were the full 180 degree classic, with their bases on the ground in the valley. The brighter one had more and more defined color bands than any I can ever remember seeing and the valley itself, along with the mountain ranges in the distance were just sharp-etched in brilliant color and relief. Really a perfect 20 minutes of Mother Nature almost outrageous in her showing-off mode.
It's been a long time since I visited this blog. I've had a busy summer and fall but have now settled into my 9-month a year routine of working and taking an hour walk as exercise and lifeline to sanity. My (most) daily walks paid off during the past year as I topped them off with a 52-mile trek through the Southern Wind River Mountains. I came to the trip with a little trepidation because I hadn't lost as much weight as I had wanted to. But the trip went fine and I powered up and over the three major mountain passes with no problems. In fact, I felt better than I had since I was a kid crawling over the mountains. Now the routine is: break for an hour sometime during the day and hike up a nearby canyon then get back to work. I used to drive the other direction from the office and head to the gym. There I would do a little weight training then hop on the treadmill for an hour. My ipod and an audiobook from audible.com was the only thing that got me through what otherwise would have been tooooo booooaring. I like the view going east from the office better.
I headed up to my "default" trail this afternoon. The oaks are now fully leafed-out in the foothills and the underbrush is green and lush. It's very summer out there right now. I was in shorts and I had a liter of water with me and my feet just sort of took the rest of me along on a hike that ended up much longer than I had intended. I got to the switchback at the top of Fern Valley and went a little ways along the ridge separating Beus Canyon from Birch Creek Canyon. Last Monday I had a similar experience of being "taken" for a hike and got to the same spot before I managed to turn around. It was still quite snowy. A week makes a big difference. I got an email today from a volunteer who sent a link to an amazing video of a guy who also took a hike. It's a little long, but if you like to hike, it'll blow you away. It's some place in Spain where apparently, they have managed to actually kill all the lawyers. Follow this link: http://www.brightcove.tv/title.jsp?title=1438490562
When I left work today the sky was heavy with rain. On my way to the Beus Trail head there were a few splats on the windshield but it hadn't actually started raining in earnest. Of course as soon as I started hiking...
It didn't last long. At least not the real rain. After a minute or two it settled down to just a drizzle. The walk was actually very pleasant. It always smells good in the rain. And the colors are vivid, if a little dark. Because of the weather, I decided to stay in the canyon and hope I got a good workout before I hit snow. I made it all the way to Fern Valley before a few drifts started to appear on the North-facing slopes of the canyon. At the mouth of the canyon the leaves are out full, except for the oak, which is just beginning to leaf out. As I hiked higher, spring got newer and newer, until the leaves were just buds again. The little creek is running high but mostly clear. It was a great walk.
Yesterday I hiked up Taylor Canyon to the overlook on the first switchback. I was in snow from just past the spring until the trail came out of the trees at the end of the switchback. It was really a glorious day. There were kids rock climbing across the canyon on the Schoolroom Wall and everywhere I could see a trail I saw hikers and bikers. It was that kind of day. One that insisted that everyone get outside and drink it in.
Today I was completely alone. (rare) Just me and my cell phone--just in case. It was a different kind of glorious.
Today I took out my camera and took a picture of something novel: The last real snowfield on the Bonneville Shoreline Trail--at least the portion between the Beus Canyon Trail and 12th Street. I can't speak for the North Ogden segment since I haven't walked on it for a couple of years now. I don't miss the snow. If I did, I only have to go strait in Beus Canyon instead of left and in a few minutes I'd be right back into winter. I'm going to give that route a rest for a bit more. I walked it a couple of weeks ago and was in deep snow after 200 yards. I'm sure that's changed, but I'm also sure I'd be slipping and sliding before I made it to the little cascade that marks the 30 minute point. (For me.) Walking on cold, soft snow isn't bad. And with crampons, even ice can be dealt with. But hard spring snow with a mushy layer on top of an uneven base just takes it out of you.
Anyway, this snow is endangered. I can actually kick up dust while I'm walking. All of the trees except the oak and a couple of walnut near the trail head are beginning to leaf out. Even the Mule's Ears are putting out leaves and flower buds. I actually saw a few Allium blooming today. The only thing I need to see to prove that spring is actually here is a rattlesnake.
It's been fun to hike the same trail day after day for the past few weeks. I've been watching the snow retreating each time I go up and I'll have to admit, even though I love the snow, it's great watching it disappear. There's still a lot left on the north-facing slopes but it's completely consolidated and firm and so walking on it has been no problem. I can cover ground just as fast on the snow as on the bare trail.
I've learned that you use different muscles when you walk on bare ground versus on the snow. I can feel the burn in my hamstrings as opposed to my thighs. Interesting huh? I don't think so either but it came to mind on a day where not much else did. I gotta say, even though it's nice to see the snow retreating, what is emerging is pretty...dreary. No leaves on anything and the ground looks blasted by winter. Still, it beats the gym. And so I'll walk until spring turns the grey and brown green. And then I'll walk some more until it's hot enough that I feel like finding some snow up high to walk in again.
Three weeks goes by frighteningly fast. The weather has been consistently in the 50's or even 60's and not freezing many nights but the snowpack is still far down the mountain. It shows how used to dry winters I've become to remark on this during the month of March which is still pretty much traditionally in the grip of winter around here. But, the snow is melting...in between snow storms. The storms come, they lay some snow down, but it doesn't stay long, and the melt from the new stuff only slushes the old stuff that much faster.
Yesterday was Saturday and I had lots to do, including four hours of church meetings so I took off in the morning for my typical hike up Beus Canyon and onto the shorline trail. It's mostly bare now, there's a hundred yards or so in the canyon where the trail is still plastered, and there's a big area on the mountainside that had deep, deep snow last month, but the trail is peeking out there too. Another week or so in the upper 50's and I'll just be hopping drifts.
It's great to see the dirt again; even if it's mud. I have gaiters to keep it off my pants and the mud only persists for a day or so after the snow melts, then the trail is firm and fast.
In 1978 I was 22 years old and fit. (That's me on the left.) Then I got married, got a career, got a mortgage and got busy. The rest is a well-known story. I thought it would be ok to flirt just a little bit with Twinkie the Kid, but that sucker's too good a shot! (Witness: that's me on the right too.) Now, part of my job is to convince Scout leaders to take kids on a high adventure every year. Would you accept that kind of challenge from the guy on the right? Me neither. The BMI calculator people say I have at least 50 lbs of butter to melt. I think I can do it. This blog is about how I go about it. If I can get fit, I think most anyone can. The tubby backpacker in the picture weighs about 275 #, I've already lost over 20 of them. By the end of the year, my goal is to have shed the rest.