IMG_20150620_153317So, I was craving a solitary anodyne to last weekend’s overly-populated hike, and according to OregonHikers.org, this particular trail wasn’t likely to be crowded, so why not. I was also looking for a hike with a nice climb (as I’ve mentioned, I like climbing, for some damn reason) and with good mileage opportunities, as I am trying to build up my endurance. And also a hike that would allow me to gather some empirical data on whether hiking poles really allow one to travel further & faster, as so many claim.

Speaking of poles, behold my new ones, purchased to replace the Mountainsmith Pinnacles that lasted exactly 9/10ths of my last hike. These don’t have cool shock absorbers, but they got uniformly good reviews, and the wrist straps are  comfy and the grips less pinchy, and they were on sale, so.

Things I learned about poles on this hike:

When the trail looks like this, you will love your poles. They will give you the wings of Mercury. You will literally fly through the woods with the speed and grace of a panther with wings on its heels.

When the trail looks like this, you will love your poles. They will give you the wings of Mercury. You will literally fly through the woods with the speed and grace of a panther with wings on its heels.

When the trail looks like this, you will be cursing the fact that such a thing as poles even exist, and you will be wondering what you did to make God hate you.

When the trail looks like this, you will be cursing the fact that such a thing as poles even exist, and you will spend most of your time bitching, moaning, stumbling, and wondering what you did to make God and nature hate you so damn much.

Other things I learned about poles on this hike:

When you really get going with them, they serve a purpose not unlike that slave on those galley ships that sit there and beat the drum. You slam those suckers down (which some “pole” experts call “a good plant” or something like that) and it forces you to keep a rhythm. This is probably one reason they encourage you to go faster. Sometimes it’s great (like when the trail is amenable to it) and sometimes … well, forget it. You just tuck those suckers away and resign yourself to having no rhythm and being OK with that.

Also, I found that when I was hiking uphill with poles, I actually got more tired. I think this is because while my legs are used to climbing, my arms are not at all used to helping my legs. So while my legs are all still like, “OK, let’s do this thing” my arms were like, “screw you, we need a rest.” So I will need to keep working to get my arms in better condition. My shoulders & upper back are certainly sore today, I can tell you that.

Some final thoughts about poles:

I still feel like an asshole using them. I don’t know why. It just seems so … “old fussy REI hiker” as opposed to “actual badass NW hiker.” But that’s just me being judgy. Overall, I do think I will keep working with them. But it’s nice to know (as I discovered) that I can collapse them down and fasten them to the bottom of my waist pack when I need to.

Other things:

Sugar, again, expressed not the slightest bit of interest in going with me. This is getting really sad-making. I don’t know if its her allergies (they’re really bad right now) or that she just takes longer to recover (the day before Nora and I took her out to the tennis courts and she went nuts trying to catch the tennis balls we were hitting between us), but in general all she wants to do is short walks and then sleep a lot. I need to get her in for a checkup or something. Hiking alone is OK, I guess. But it’s kind of lonely.

Overall this was a nice hike in the woods. It didn’t have as many scenic vistas as the last few hikes I’ve been on, which is probably why it’s not as busy/crowded. Also, I wish I could have gotten out to Grouse Point (as I originally intended) but I got too late a start and honestly, just doing Dry Ridge tired me out. Still working on that endurance thing.

Chronology:

  • 1:15 p.m.: Got on the trail. This represents a very late start for me, but Nora and I had dentist appointments that morning.
  • 3 p.m.: Rest and snack. I got really tired on this hike for some reason, my endurance was not what it usually is. But I was determined to at least get to the Grouse Point trail junction, dammit!
  • 4:07 p.m.: Grouse Point trail junction. Thank God.
  • 5:00 p.m.: Rest and another snack.
  • 6:41 p.m.: Back in car, heading home

Injuries: None! My feet appreciated having the sock liners back.

Weather: Nice, not super hot. I was in the shade most of the way. One thing to remember for future reference … on a warm summer day, you definitely will not need a second layer climbing up the mountain. However, you may need one coming down. Just think about that next time you decide not to pack your wind shirt, Mary!

Miles: 13.21 miles

Elevation Gain: 3350 feet

Bugs swallowed: None! (Surprisingly.) There were a lot of bugs up there. Once again, deet defended me.

Gear: HiTec Altitude V hiking boots (w/homemade paracord laces & orange Superfoot insoles, Darn Tough merino wool socks w/REI silk liners) Nike dri-fit windpants & t-shirt, Mountainsmith Tour lumbar daypack with strapettes, platypus collapsible water bottles w/drinking straw apparatus thingy, Black Diamond Ergo Cork Trekking poles, and my favorite Nike baseball cap (which, honestly, I packed more than wore). Also, Probar Base Bars, which have more sugar, protein and calories than the bars I have been bringing. I wanted something with more sugar to see if they would help avert the jelly legs I get toward the end of a long hike. And they helped, I guess, but ugh they were sweeeeeeet.

Identified Gear Gaps: None! Though I might want to see if I can rig up some kind of strap contraption that makes it easier to lash my poles to the bottom of my pack. There are loops at the bottom of the pack that I can pass them through, but that’s kind of a fiddly arrangement. Just a refinement, really.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *