Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Oh Sweet Soreness

Two things create soreness: a really hard workout/race OR taking a large chunk of time off from physical activity and then doing something quite physical and shocking your body.

I chose the later of the two. After nearly two weeks of laying around the house, Lisa and I went backpacking up in the White Mountain Wilderness near Ruidoso, NM. Craving a taste of fall, we needed to get away from Las Cruces and head into the mountains for some colored leaves, nice mountains and a hopeful glimpse of some wildlife. We desired the fresh mountain air and a good nights sleep in the mountains.

The trip began with Lisa discovering this little fella basking in the warm afternoon sun on the road as we walked to the trail head. He was quite fresh and only about 6 inches long.

Our trail followed two different rivers up and down their respective canyons. Although we had to cross them several times each, we kept dry and enjoyed the views more than anything. 
After several hours of hiking, we came upon some elk grazing in a mountain meadow. It was nearing sunset so the light was not very great. This bull provided us with many minutes of great viewing and even a bugle at one time, it was awesome. Darkness was closing though, so we had to get moving because we were not 100% sure of our location and had not made it to where we wanted to be. 

As the sun was setting and panic was beginning to set in because we had not reached any trail junctions or signs indicating we were where we wanted to be, we were treated to beautiful views up on the ridge top. It was hard to enjoy fully though because we were slightly worried and beginning to get cold as we were totally exposed and the wind was quite strong.
As the sun set, we happened up the trail junction and it was decision time: try to get lower into the valley and find a flat spot to camp, or take a chance being up here, fairly exposed because where was at least flat ground and the wind had nearly died. We decided that it was better to stop and not try to venture down into the forest on a relatively unclear path in the dark. I searched the ridgetop for a flat spot and found an area others before us had used as a camping spot. It seemed like a nice place with protection on the back side from the wind and a nice spot to set a tent.
Little did Lisa and I know that it was going to be the night from misery when we set up. After pitching the tent, bundling up in warm clothes and making dinner, we laid down for a game of cards before bed. Being exhausted, both of us thought sleep was inevitable, but we couldn't have been more wrong. The wind picked up to audible levels as it swept over the open ridge top and meadows/canyons below us. As the wind intensified, the tent began to shake more violently. It was so loud and unsettling that neither of us slept more than 2 hours during the 10 hour night.

After a night of holding the tent walls out/up and doing anything I could to keep the tent upright, it was time to pack up. I no longer wanted to use my perfected "wind hearing" to judge the power of the wind gust that was next going to attempt to blow us off the mountain (10,000ft is a long way to fall!) Plus we were both dehydrated and I was suffering from a serious altitude headache, so the only way to fix that was get to a lower altitude and find some agua!

We packed up and headed down the mountain. The previous day had taken us 4+hours to hike only 6 miles, but that was a majority ascending. Today would be mostly descending, so we expected a slightly shorter hike. We were again surprised as the time ticked off effortlessly as we struggled to follow the trail and navigate the fallen trees and sometimes treacherous path. At one point, we were clinging to the hillside about 20ft above the rocky riverbed below us as we did our best to maintain traction on a tiny dirt path. Maybe we lost the official trail, but I don't think so because the two ends of the treacherous section were met by the normal trail. Nonetheless, we survived and eventually made it out. You can see the happy campers as they reached the trails end after two hard days of hiking.
Oh, so how/why did I choose the later of the two options discussed in the beginning of this? Because we finished on Saturday and come Wednesday, I am still sore. On Monday I could barely walk and on Tuesday my calves were still too sore to touch. I will survive though. Stay tuned for my Halloween update and latest on training news... I may have gone for a run or... TWO?!?!?!

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Nice photos!!