Sunday, February 20, 2011

It's Just Walking

The big storm blowing in from the California coast gave us desert dwellers a 70% chance of rain on Saturday, so Juggy and I planned a long day hike. Friday evening the weather man was so certain he proclaimed a 99% chance, with snow possibly down to the elevation we planned to hike in. A rare treat for those who live in a climate with an average rainfall of just over 4 inches per year.

I woke up yesterday feeling like crap - a self induced state due to an unhealthy late dinner of Kentucky Fried Chicken, and perhaps 1 or 2 (too many) glasses of red wine. This of course is why I am now in "training mode", fighting to get back in trail condition. I considered for just a minute not going, but got over that idea quickly. It's just walking after all, and I knew I would have a great time if I just got my lazy butt going.

The rainbow colored mountains were socked in with storm clouds, and at the start of the trail it was just sprinkling. An old 4WD road is now the New Oak Creek Canyon trail that runs up and around Wilson's Pimple, the small mountain in the left of the photo that lies in the shadow of Mt. Wilson. To me it looks more like a boobie, so we have aptly renamed it.

Around the backside of the newly renamed hill, the mud gets very sticky as shown by my Foot Pillows and mud-constructed trekking pole basket. This is anything but UltraLight.

Leaving our tracks on the trail, we would later find that we were the only ones through this area today as we returned some 7 hours later to find only our tracks in the mud.

It's amazing the muscles you feel when you walk in this gooey mess..."mud muscles" I had forgotten I even had!

Down the hill, across Oak Creek, and up the other side perhaps a half mile further, I spotted some deer off to the left. A rare treat indeed, as in all my Red Rock hiking though the years, I have seen many Bighorn Sheep, Burrows, and smaller furry creatures, but never the native deer. A total of 7 or 8 of them including some young ones were just a hundred yards away from us. We studied each other for a while before Juggy and I continued.

The weather was hardly what most people who don't live in a desert climate would call "rainy". In fact the day was more clear than rainy, with some beautiful clouds coming and going, gusting around and contributing a few drops of rain or some light hail as seen on the ground in this photo.

About 4 hours in, maybe a mile beyond the place we are standing in the photo below, we reached our half way point at the base of White Rock Mountain...9 1/2 miles. An optional 6 mile loop around this mountain would make it a 25 mile day, but today we will settle for 19 miles.

Heading back now, we stopped at around 12:30pm for a warm lunch consisting of Moroccan Delight, a dehydrated meal I concocted of Couscous, Hot Italian Sausage, and a tomato base. Yum!

This trail passes many popular (i.e. normally crowded) routes into Oak Creek Canyon, Pine Creek Canyon, and Icebox Canyon, all worthy of a day's exploration on their own. The thing I enjoy about this route is that we get a lot of miles and hardly run into any other hikers except when we pass by these popular trail junctions.

One of my favorite areas is this section that runs through dense desert foliage. When the sun is low, these cacti have a glow about which has thus far escaped my photographic ability.

A short teaser video walking through this area...

Almost back to the parking area, we had a great day filled with beautiful weather and some good trail miles. 19 miles in 8 hours (with full Sierra's backpacking gear), not bad for the beginning of training season. This view back towards Mt Wilson shows just how rocky the trail is, this section being the worst of it. Walking on rocks all day is a great workout!

Back home and all cleaned up, I treat myself to some tasty dehydration...

Falling asleep on the couch by 7:30pm, we were early to bed, a hiker trait. A good nights sleep and we both felt great this morning, a promising sign so early into our training season. This is good news because our 2 weeks in the High Sierras this summer will be the most challenging we've ever tackled.