Monday, August 30, 2010

100 Miles. Done.

Before my own ego gets too puffed up, I'd just like to point out that this past weekend, a handful of amazing folks covered 100 miles on less than 24 hours.

I did it in less than 31 days, which is cool, too. My shins and knees are pleased that this year, at least, I chose the latter of those two options :)

So, a confession: I've been composing an "I failed, and I'm trying to be okay with it" blog entry for the past two weeks. When I first set out to do this Hike-a-thon business, I had to set a mileage goal for August. My initial thought was to aim for 80 miles. It seemed ambitious, but doable. Then I reflected on how often I set "ambitious but doable" goals for myself...I'm a go-getter by nature, so even goals that sound crazy to most people (write a 50,000 word novel in a month, organize and direct my own road race, run an ultramarathon...) don't necessarily seem so crazy to me.

But, ambitious as some goals might appear to those on the outside, it's lame to create goals you already feel 100% confident you can achieve. What's the point? Even as you achieve them, it creates a false sense of satisfaction when, in fact, you haven't really pushed yourself to your limits at all. Hiking 80 miles in a month felt too readily attainable. So I upped my goal to 100 miles. And I genuinely spent all of August thinking there was no way I'd make it; I only had one day off from work per week, with the exception of my birthday week (3 days off).

When I got back from my birthday trip and realized I still had nearly 40 miles to hike, and only one more day off in the month of August, I thought I'd have to give up on my overzealous goal. Unfortunately, I'm too much of a...I don't even know what the right word is...nut? just give up. With a little creativity, I somehow managed to squeeze in all 40 of them. Well...39.5, by my most accurate count, officially clocking 99.5 miles for August...but without GPS to verify mile-by-mile each of my hikes anyway, who's really counting?


I've been fortunate to have great company on all my hikes this months, but this hike was particularly special. Though Seyeon is the person in Seattle I've known the longest, until this day, we'd never hiked together, just the two of us; with no nearby mountains, northeast Ohio wasn't really a place to hike much, and when I first moved out to Seattle, REI hadn't helped the hiking bug find me to bite just yet.

Given that we live within two miles of each other, Seyeon and I have a remarkably hard time actually getting together to hang out or catch up. This is largely the fault of My Ridiculous Work Schedule, the Yitka-time-hogging qualities of which many of my friends and loved ones are all too aware. (It's going to get better someday, I swear.) But we've both been reading some fantastic books lately, and having some equally fantastic thoughts and revelations surrounding them, so this hike was far more about spending time together to catch up with each other's minds than anything else.

We headed out to North Bend to take on Mount Si's neighbor, Mount Teneriffe - a mountain with several different routes to the top. We opted for the longest, most roundabout one - a steep, winding abandoned logging road that proffered some nice views of the fog on the way up, but mostly provided us with eight hours of uninterrupted conversation. We had the mountain entirely to ourselves, and our hike mirrored our conversation: meandering, full of tangents, no absolute summit at any point, but a wonderful journey along the way nonetheless. We stopped multiple times for snacks and to read to each other, then discuss what we'd read. Kind of like an intellectual seminar, except on a mountain.

Books discussed included: Writing Down the Bones by Natalie Goldberg, The Shallows by Nicholas Carr, and You're Broke Because You Want to Be by Larry Winget.

"It's not enough to just know what you want. If you only focus on wanting things, you will end up with more want. You have to have an action plan: things you can do every day to move yourself closer to your goal. Always ask yourself what you could be doing right now to make sure you have the future you want to have."
- Larry Winget

Mileage: 14 miles


My friend Gale is wearing pink in this photo, a tiny speck on the trail that's cut into the granite on the side of the mountain. See if you can find her.

This hike was another spectacular one, on the other side of the basin from Rampart Lakes, where I was last week. In fact, we could see Rampart Ridge from where we stood today, and likewise, last week, could see the Katwalk from our vantage point there. Very cool.

Gale and I also had never hiked together before (not even in a group), despite not having known each other for over a year. A fortuitous day off in common allowed us to head out early this morning for this trek up to Kendall Katwalk, a popular destination along the Pacific Crest Trail (the west coast's equivalent of the Appalachian, i.e. a 2,650 mile trail from Mexico to Canada.) Lucky for us, Mondays mean very few cars at the traihead, and most of the hikers we encountered were thru-hikers with big packs.

The views along the entire hike were stunning. Getting to talk to Gale more than our usual cursory chats at work was awesome. We also got to watch scurrying pikas and listen to screeching marmots. Video footage of this phenomenon forthcoming in a future entry...

Our weather ranged from blazing sunshine to a trail-flooding downpour, with a lot of partly cloudy in between. After months of being nervous about screwing up my feet for either running or hiking, I finally have absolutely no other physical adventure penciled in on the horizon, so I felt like it would be a good day to start breaking in my new boots. In truth, they're old boots...a pair of Vasque Sundowners from the 90s, back when Vasque still manufactured full-grain leather boots in Italy rather than China - an era of bootmaking in Vasque's history for which hikers across the world are still nostalgic.

Landing myself an unworn pair in my size was a serendipitous gift from the universe. Nevertheless, the leather is ridiculously stiff and in need of a lot of breaking in. 11 miles today with only one tiny blister isn't a bad start, though! And given the downpour at the end, I was grateful to be wearing Gore-Tex footwear for the first time in my feet were the only dry part of me by the time we got back to the car.

Glad it was nice at the top, though!

Mileage: 11 miles

Total August Mileage: 100 MILES

Ultimately, here's what I feel I got from all hundred of them: the kindling of new and old friendships alike, a better knowledge base for my job(s), some much-needed mental clarity, strong gluteus muscles, rest for my battered shins from too many running miles, a lot of fresh air, rich food for thought, many awesome photos, and an even deeper appreciation for this beautiful world we live in.

And onward!

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