Monday, June 3, 2013

Just Call Me HikingLar From Now On

I'm changing my blog name to hikinglar :).  Not really, but I've been doing a hell of a lot more hiking lately than marathon running/training/anything marathon related.

I've honestly never been one to really enjoy hiking/camping/anything in the woods. Don't get me wrong I LOVE the outdoors and enjoying all aspects of it, but was just never a real mountain girl.  I don't mind a little car camping or day hiking every now and then but don't ask me to go on a multi-night camping/hiking adventure where I don't have access to a toilet and hot thank you!

With that disclaimer in mind, I have REALLY been enjoying some recent day hikes around the Pacific Northwest.  It only took me about 8 years of living here to finally realize what amazing hikes we have within driving distance from Seattle!

A couple very recent hikes I went on were:

1. Mt. Si - 8.0 miles roundtrip with 3000' elevation gain
Mt. Si in the background (snowy peak on right is the top of the hike)
I've always heard of this hike from others as a good challenging walk up a mountain in North Bend and have always wanted to see if I was in good enough shape to make it up without much trouble.  My friend Jessey and I headed out memorial day weekend to try it out.  Shockingly, it wasn't that crowded (I think everyone went to Eastern Washington) and we got on the trail a little after 9 AM.  You climb over 3000' feet in just under 4 miles and the trail NEVER flattens out.  It is the most steady uphill hike I've ever been on.  I didn't find it super challenging but we definitely stopped for some hydration breaks along the way. The path up was nice and groomed and flat!

We reached the summit in about 2 hours and enjoyed some snacks before powering down. The views were amazing but there were a lot of clouds so I'm sure on a super clear day it would be 10x better.

Top of Mt. Si with Jessey

SHOE NOTE: I finally made it to the Brooks outlet in Bothell the day before this hike and scored these Brooks Cascadia trail running shoes for 50 bucks! WHAT a difference they made versus hiking in my regular running shoes...shocking information I know ;).

But you know what was challenging? Descending 3000+ feet.  While it wasn't heart pounding it was quad and knee pounding.  The stead incline meant a stead decline so there was no relief from the quad pounding, joint wrenching until you reached your car.  Jessey and I felt like such old ladies complaining about all our pains on the way down, but surprisingly enough the only thing that was sore the next day was my calves!  I would most definitely do this hike again and would be interested to if it hurt any less if I do more hikes this summer and try it again.

The very next weekend...

2. Lake Serene - 7.2 miles roundtrip - 2000' elevation gain

My friend Rachel and I decided on this hike after a recommendation from my co-worker. The drive out on Highway 2 was a little longer than I would have hoped for (due to an 25mph tractor trailer that wouldn't move over!), but it was nice to feel a little more "out in the middle of nowhere" compared to Mt. Si.  Stacey joined us for this hike and she proved very capable and I promised her I wouldn't leave her home ever again if I went for a hike!
at some rock waterfalls before going UP!
The path starts out pretty mild climbing a little but mostly flat and wide.  All the mountain snow is melting right now which made for some awesome waterfalls and countless small streams to meander around.  At about 2 miles in the path takes on a pretty steep ascent and I would imagine that most of those 2000' are gained in the last 1.5+ miles. The terrain turns to mostly large rocks and lots and lots of wooden stairs! There were a few spots that were a tad challenging to get around and mostly I was just worried Stacey would fall off a cliff (my biggest hiking fear), but she did great and I learned quickly that letting her go off leash was safer for the both of us (even if it was against the rules).

one of MANY sets of stairs

When you reach the top you go around the corner and BAM...snow and a very chilly lake environment.  There was still fog up there so we could just barely make out the lake. As we ate our lunch the fog lifted and it was like watching a curtain being lifted and you have no idea what lies behind it.  The lake, the ice, the sheer rock walls were breathtaking.  My pictures do absolutely NO justice to how beautiful it was.

Lake Serene...serene indeed!
Stacey really needs to learn how to be more photogenic and look at the camera!

I'm not one for sitting at the top of a mountain for very long since I only think of how long it will take to get back down, so we headed out shortly after we summited and took in the scenery.  Coming down wasn't nearly as painful at Mt. Si since it didn't take as long to get to the point where we pretty much off the mountain.  I could tell Stacey's hips were hurting her going back down all the stairs but she still powered through and did great.  We made it back to the car in about an hour and a half and immediately drove to the closest McDonald's for fuel (don't judge...hehe).

someone tried REALLY hard to stay awake in the car but failed :)
I woke up this morning not really sore at all but my legs are pretty tired. I counted up all the miles I ran/walked/hiked this weekend and it was over 18...I'm calling that a really successful workout weekend and it made me feel a bit more confident that my legs won't fall off when I run over 30 miles for Ragnar :).

As for that training for the whole Ragnar Ultra thing...I've been running, just not blogging about it. I should get back on that since I have way more motivation to get out there when I tell you all I'm going to do it!  I'll work on that ;).

QUESTION: Any Pacific Northwest hikes I NEED to do this summer?

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