Tuesday, September 13, 2011

California Mountains - How Not to Enjoy a Hike


If it weren't for our friend Crafty, this hike would have been a huge disappointment. As it turned out, it was a shared adventure that made me thankful for my friend and for my husband.

Just thinking about the hike to Feather Falls makes me very tired, and that makes me want to just write a short list of ways Not to Enjoy a Hike. Because I did not enjoy the hike itself -- only the companions. Sad to say, the short list turned into a pretty extensive one.

How Not to Enjoy a Hike

1. Pick a trail that has its descent on the way out, so that even during the first few easy miles, when you are at your freshest, you can be thinking, "What trail goes down, must rise again," making it possible to imagine the misery you will know later when you have to hike steeply uphill the last four or five miles back to your car. Even a vague dread of the near future can ruin the present pretty effectively.

Red Ribbons - Clarkia concinna
2. Do it in July and the weather will be as hot as possible. Don't bring too much water; you want to get dehydrated.

3. Plan to take your baking-dry and long hike just a couple of days after spending time in high places where you got used to singing rivulets of snowmelt all around you. This will encourage you to compare your lower-elevation hike unfavorably with recent ones, to keep your attitude complainy.

4. Hike on a trail that claims to takes you to a tall waterfall (the 2nd highest in California), so that when you are dripping sweat and collecting dust you can look forward to the cool mist that will revive you.

This way, when you discover that the end of the trail is at an overlook so far from the water you think it's a mirage, you will have the maximum letdown.

It helps, if while looking at the waterfall with your tongue hanging out, you have to sit down in the dirt to avoid sunburn and the jostling of other hikers.

Tincture Plant - Collinsia Tinctoria
5. If there is a choice of a routes, allow only enough time for a long-legged 20-year-old to hike the shorter of the two. This way, when you get to the trailhead and find that the short route is closed, your heart can sink right away.

6. Be sure to have a dinner engagement to be late for, or some other reason to hurry through your lunch and doggedly hike your legs off, with your heart doing double-time, on that last long ascent.


Now, the things that kept me from being a total ingrate:

1. The loss of two pounds in an afternoon (even if it was 80% water).

2. Flowers to take pictures of, many conveniently in the shade of the trees, and few enough so as not to be overwhelming.

3. My dear and faithful companions, who joked with me and gave me water and snacks, and carried the knapsack.

This outing was a sort of add-on to our Sierra Nevada summer vacation. We came home for a night and then drove north to pick up Crafty before going on to our trailhead in the foothills of the northern Sierras, in the Plumas National Forest.

While trudging up those last few miles back to the car we talked about how we'd like to hike more together in the future, say, in April or October. I know that any hike in the foothills would be more pleasant during those months, but I'll vote for going anywhere but Feather Falls.

Monkeyflower - Mimulus

12 comments:

Richie and Bethany said...

This made me laugh!

M.K. said...

Oh, Gretchen, I'm kind of giggling, and kind of groaning! Mostly I'm reminded of all the reasons I DON'T hike (at all), and never did hike much. I dislike dry and hot :)

GretchenJoanna said...

M.K., I would not enjoy hiking where it is hot and humid, either! That's why the High Sierra is so nice...dry, just warm enough, gentle breezes off icy lakes into which you can also dip your feet for total and instant refreshment.

Jeannette said...

We need to talk...ha ha ha ha.

Rebeca said...

Well, it made for a good story anyway. :>

Rebeca said...

Yes... you have great taste in movies apparently. :>

wayside wanderer said...

Great sights along the way! =D

Left-Handed Housewife said...

Oh, my goodness, I feel hot and tired from just reading this. I'm so glad you survived; just can't believe you're planning future hikes!

xofrances

Emily J. said...

We just took a remarkably similar hike - without the mountains and flowers. And to top it off, we got lost on the way home and had to hike about an hour longer than we planned. Ugh!

DebD said...

I'm so glad I'm not alone in dreading those end ascents. We had a few of those on our CA trip this past Aug. Mom was not a happy camper... good thing for a long-suffering husband.

Lynda said...

OMG! I hiked to the Falls in September of 1977...I was 8 months pregnant! I told my husband to call the paramedics to life-flight me out! He said nope: get off your toosh and hike out and I did. Your post made me laugh out loud.

GretchenJoanna said...

Lynda, your story tells me I should be thankful my experience wasn't worse! You were a trooper to hike at all when in that condition. :-)