Thursday, July 17, 2008

Lessons learned on the hike to the top of the world

So we didn't summit Rainier. We did, however, drive through the campground that many of those attempting the summit leave from to gawk at them like groupies. Its the same way I get when Ironman WI weekend rolls around. I walk around all googlie-eyed at all the athletes thinking "Wow, you're about to do something amazing. Well done you crazy nut-job. Now go hug your significant other and/or family members and thank them for sticking with you through the madness."
Anyway, after stalking the pseudo-celebs of the hiking world, what we did do was a lot of hiking...through a lot more snow than I expected....with views that quite honestly blew me away.

I don't know why I had low expectations for Rainier, I just did. Something about it being a volcano struck me as very "Devil's Tower" and I assumed it was something of a drive-by geologic feature (I don't rock-climb otherwise I'm sure I wouldn't categorize Devil's Tower as a drive-by anything...but that's another story for another time).

So I was wrong. Way wrong. Mt. Rainer National Park is beautiful. I'm definitely putting our day of hiking on my short list of most beautiful workouts. Followed closely by America's Most Beautiful Bike Ride (100 miles around Lake Tahoe), and the All Hallow's Eve Trail Half Marathon in Vancouver, BC. Although kayaking the Apostle Islands National Seashore at sunset didn't exactly suck either.

So back to the point I was trying to make here....there is something about thin air and scenic vistas that makes my brain work overtime. And inevitably I come away with a few little nuggets of life perspective that I carry home with me. So here are a few from Rainier:
  • If you've done an "Iron" anything people have some preconceived notions about your athletic abilities (as ill-founded as they may be). So when your little sister knows she's going hiking with alleged "Irongirl" her competitive nature will kick in and she's gonna bring her A game. Don't expect to be able to slack off. You've got a reputation to live up to.

  • Theory holds: Things that are harder have a better reward. (i.e. steeper = prettier)

  • The early bird gets something better than worms....she gets the trail to herself.

  • Those trails that you see in running shoe ads really do exist.


twiceknit said...

Beautiful pictures! I especially like the second one. At the moment, I'm finding it hard to remember that snow exists. How far up the mountain did you go?

The one and only time I've ever done any hiking on a mountain was when I was studying in Ecuador in grad school. We went up to some insane height (high enough that there were glaciers there) that I don't remember, but considering that Quito started at 9000 feet, it was pretty up there. It was so incredibly hard. I could only go a few steps before I had to sit down. I was so very, very proud of myself when I finished the quarter-mile or whatever it was that we went up. Come to think of it, that probably wasn't very good for me. I certainly couldn't do it again.

perpetual adventure said...

The trail we took that got us closest to the mountain, and probably highest was the Burroghs Mountain trail (I think). I'm guessing it was still only around 7000'. We weren't hiking on the glaciers, just residual snow from the record winter they had. Hiking on the glaciers would have been WAY cool though....someday....