Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Twin Peaks recap; good hike and lessons learned

Sorry about posting so late, life just got in the way for a few days, and I needed to wrap my head around that last hike.

I got out to Eklutna about 11:30, and waited for my buddy Greg to get finished with his running of the Eklutna Challenge. While he was doing that, I was getting my pack put together. I had decided to take my full overnight/weekend pack. Partly because I wasn't really sure what I was getting myself into, and partly because I wanted to see how it would feel on a moderately difficult hike of moderate length.

I learned that my complete pack isn't too bad at all. My shoulders and back felt fine the next day. But unless I am really planning on staying all night out on the trail, it is definitely unnecessary to be carrying it all over the place on shorter hikes.

I also learned a very important lesson about footwear. When you get new boots and you need to break them in, break them in doing the kind of things you'll be doing in them. I broke my new boots in by wearing them to work for about a week and a half; until they no longer hurt my feet. Unfortunately, I don't really walk on any inclines or declines for my work. And so after about the first mile and a half up the trail, I started to get a hot spot on my heels. Then came the "fatal" error; I didn't take the time to take off my boots and assess the situation at the time, because it didn't feel very bad at all. The last mile or so up to the end of the trail, however got progressively worse, until I was trying to walk sideways uphill so that my boot wouldn't rub anymore until I could get to the top and fix it.

Once at the top, I took my boots off and changed socks. I had neglected to get any moleskin, so I taped up my heels with duct tape to absorb the friction. As I did this, I thought I saw a blister forming on my left heel, but I wasn't sure.

Walking back down from the mountain was nowhere near as painful as going up had been, but I was still glad I decided to give trekking poles a try to help absorb some of the shock on my ankles and knees going downhill. The book says that this was a 6-8 hour hike, and we did it in about5 hours; but we didn't do any of the optional side trips because there was still some snow up at the top of the trail. We also had been planning to camp at Eklutna for the Memorial Day holiday and try and knock out the rest of the hikes out there, but judging by how much snow that was/is remaining out there, we decided to go camping at Bird Creek and knock out some of the south park hikes instead.

Then I met up with Stacy for dinner with some friends, and that was fun right up until I had to stand up after a few hours. Ow. Ow. Ow. I found muscles I didn't know that I had, let alone had been using. Thankfully, she let me relax all day Sunday; I hobbled around like an old man and drank a lot of water to replace what I had used on Saturday, and took care of the sunburn on my scalp. By today, I feel just fine, except when I accidentally brush my blister onto something, but even that is feeling much better. I don't think I'll have any problems going on a few hikes this weekend at all.

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Follow me SPOT

In case anyone wants to see where I am/have been, you can follow my GPS location via SPOT at:

In other news, about to head out to Eklutna to hike up Twin Peaks Pass.

Until next time...

Friday, May 21, 2010

One down!!! Forty-nine to go ...

Well, I finally got out and started hiking last night. I started with the easiest hike on the list of course, Thunderbird Falls. It is the shortest in length, and the lowest in elevation gain, but it's on the list so it counts dammit. It was a beautiful day to be out for sure, temperature in the high 50s to low 60s; a few clouds drifting lazily and a weekday to help keep the trail a little less populated.

Today I'm going to go get my Chugach State Park parking permit so I don't have to pay $5 every time I want to park at a trail head. The passes run $40 for one or $60 for two and can be bought at REI and the park headquarters. I tried to buy one at Sportsmans Warehouse last night on my way to the trail, but they stopped carrying them a few years ago apparently. There are a few lots that don't accept the passes though, so I'll have to try not to go to those ones too often.

I'm also going to at least look at trekking poles while I'm at REI. I've always thought that they were kind of unnecessary for hiking. But after reading a bit about them and actually getting out on the trail, I can see at least two good things about them. First, they'll give my arms something to do so I don't end the summer looking like a pair of giant legs with two withered atrophied arms attached; and secondly, you can lengthen them and use them to take some of the strain on your knees on descents.

What's next? Unfortunately, most of the hikes either start at a higher elevation and stay there, or else they start lower and go higher. Which means snow at this time of the year. Melting snow. So, I will definitely look very carefully at any mountain that I'm considering going up any time soon. However, I think I'm going to go out to Eklutna and do the one hike that's not on the backside of the lake this Saturday. I just need to get back to town by 6:30 at the latest to meet a previous engagement. If nothing else, I'll get a look at the mountain and see what the terrain and snow levels look like.

Until next time...