Sunday, June 30, 2013

Epic Hike

No lie, it was epic.  I discovered my super power (and it is the most annoying super power on the planet), I found some awesome new settings on my camera that did wonderful things to the pictures (but in the process forgot minor little details, like focusing, so some of the pictures were a little less awesome than they could have been), and oh, yeah! I also hiked a little bit.

It all started innocently enough.  I knew I needed to hike (for various reasons, it's been about 2 weeks since I've even been outside much), but I had no plan as to which direction to head or what kind of hike to do.  It wasn't until a friend suggested the wrong kind of hike that I knew what it was that I needed.

The characteristics of a wrong hike:
1) Local- we are very fortunate to have a number of great local hikes.  But what's wrong about it is that I have done a number of them, and when repeat hikes were suggested, I knew I wanted something new.
2) Short- I know I have a skewed view, but I realized I didn't want to get out of bed for less than 8 miles (both suggested hikes were six).
3) Seeing as how both of the above are attractive to a lot of the normal population, they would also both be extremely populated.

I guess I even wanted the drive, that aspect of getting away for a day on a mini vacation. So I did a little research and found one that fit the bill.  It even required me getting a hotel for the night (which is not necessarily a plus, but since I found a decent deal, it wasn't too much of minus).  The two caveats that I had to deal with is that the weather forecast included afternoon thunderstorms (thank goodness, as long as they also include rain!) and that if I wanted really long, I should probably find something with a little less elevation, seeing as how my hiking's been all too limited in the recent weeks.

But I found the perfect hike.  It was LONG, but only 2,500 ft elevation gain, which is not bad when spread out over that many miles.  It had the advantage of 2 waterfalls and 2 lakes along the way, and a stream much of the hike.  Gotta love that as background noise along with the birds singing!  That led to the disadvantage of mosquitos, but that's okay, because it kept me a little more goal oriented so I didn't stop and take quite as many pictures as usual.

As I said, I found some new features on my camera.  They've been there all along, but I didn't bother to dig any deeper, so I haven't gotten to use any of them.  When I was at the hotel, I was trying to figure out  the right settings for the white balance filter (which I forgot to try at the appropriate time, because I'm a genius like that).  I found that AND I found a couple of other things.  So, messing around at the hotel, I found that this:
A mess on an end table with bad lighting
Becomes this:
I don't know, it's still a mess, but it almost looks like something.  Or I'm still on a high from thin air and hiking.
And I found a few other things as well, which were more useful on the hike.

I was at the trailhead before six, which is the only proper time to begin a hike, and especially an epic one.  You know it's going to be a good day when you start off with this in the first mile:

I'm very excited about this particular picture, because it is the type of picture that has plagued me when it comes to lighting, in that I will see it, but can't capture it. Thank goodness for playing around with more of my camera's capabilities!

Before mile 2, I had also gotten to see both of these waterfalls:

Now, I don't want you to think that it's all fun and games on these hikes.

Sometimes there's poop, too.  Just keeping it real for you.
I would like to take a moment to thank the mosquitoes. Not words that I usually use, but here's the thing.  The wildflowers were blooming, and that's usually a huge distraction for me.  They were beautiful, but because the mosquitoes kept me moving, I didn't take any flower pictures.

Well, except this one.  I didn't take any of the kinds I already have pictures of.
But I'm not being sarcastic about the mosquitoes!  Really.  Because normally I would have taken so much time with taking pictures of the flowers, that I wouldn't have made it to the lakes so early in the day.  And there is a magical time of the morning before the breeze picks up and the light is at a perfect angle for reflections.  And you can never, ever, have too many pictures of reflections in lakes.  Not possible.

Only a little fuzzy.  Here's the thing, if you choose to use manual focus, then actually remember to focus the dumb thing. This has been your photography PSA.
As you can see, there are some clouds starting to build, even at that time of morning.  There were actually some darker ones to the right of the picture.  I had also gotten sprinkled on by that point.  (I had to stop to figure out what the strange noise was that I was hearing.  Both because I didn't initially feel any sprinkles, and because it'd been so long since I'd heard such a sound.)  See, the goal here was to make it to the end of the hike before it started to rain or thunder.  Because once that happens, you have to turn around (or you should, though most people keep heading up the mountain as if the sun is shining and there's no possible way that THEY could ever get struck by lightening).  And if you're already on your way down, then you just have to keep going; and you didn't have to miss out on your destination.  I'm pretty sure there's something a little wrong with that logic, but I was working too hard to get to the second lake before any of the fun started to spend much time figuring it out.

I have this theory that if dandelions are by a mountain stream by a bridge that they count as a wildflower and not a weed.  Thoughts?
This is where I started to get really excited, because I guessed that I was almost to my final destination.
Yep!  There it is!
Again with the clouds.  I did get to spend some time enjoying the lake, but there were still a lot of mosquitoes, and I didn't want to be too exposed when the rain did finally decide to start (or rather, the lightening, since you can see there wasn't a lot of cover by the lake), so I wasn't there for a long time. Worth every step, though.

Now, there's something that you have to know about me and hiking.  I overpack.  It's kind of an illness.  Because I'm high maintenance, primarily, but also because if something happens, I'm probably one of the ones that gets to spend extra time on the mountain (because I know a little more about first aid than most).  This hike, I also added that I wanted to do some training, so I added a little more water than I technically needed as well.  Plus, I wanted room in my bag for my big a** camera if it started to rain.

You hear all the over justifications here?  It's because I sometimes feel a little silly about my big, huge backpack when some people do the same hike with a fanny pack.  (Granted, those are mostly inexperienced hikers who do not have enough stuff, but the experienced hikers do it with way less than I do as well).

Anyway, as part of my high maintenance, I have rain gear.  Because I detest being wet.  Now, if it just sprinkles, leave the gear in the bag.  You'll dry fast enough.  Well, this particular hike once I hit the way down, it could not decide what to do.  It would sprinkle, then it would start to rain for real (and throw in some tiny hail for the fun of it), then it would stop.  Then it would start.  I could NOT figure out what I wanted to wear!  Do I wear the rain gear? Because if it's not raining for real, it's hot and it looks funny. Or not?  But if I don't and it starts raining too hard before I get it on, I get soaked, and walk a long way soaked.  I hate being soaked.

Finally, I put on the pants, and then it started raining for real, so I grabbed the jacket as well.  Now, the pants are too hard to take on and off, so I'd leave them on and unzip the sides.  You think I'm over thinking how silly I look?  I'm over thinking a lot, but not that.  This conversation happened:

Random hiker: "Catch anything?"

Huh? What?

Me (still confused, but rolling with it): "Nope."

Him: "That's too bad."

By this time, we'd passed each other, so I was left on my own to consider the fact that it wasn't too bad because I wasn't trying to fish and don't want to fish because I might catch something slimy and wiggly and slippery and then have to touch it and what in the world made him think that I was fishing, anyway?  Oh.  He thought my pants were waders.  Yeah.  So much for trying to tell myself that no one would pay too much attention to what I was wearing.

Then there was the rain jacket issue.  Here is where my super power comes in.  If I put the rain jacket on, the rain was guaranteed to slow or stop within minutes.  But if I took it off, it wouldn't be long before it was raining for real, the big drops.  I would have been much faster coming down if I hadn't spent so much time futzing around with my jacket.  On, off, on but unzipped, back off, etc.

And so, epic distances, rain, hail, thunder, stupid super powers and definitely epic views.  This was one of those hikes that left me sore, but the soreness made me happy.  Because if your legs aren't sore and you don't have a blister or two, you didn't go far enough.

And since you made it this far in the post, I saved the best for last.

The sun came out for a minute!


  1. WOW, that last pic is stunning! I mean, they're all gorgeous, but WOW that one blows me away. Love it.
    And all the that fuss about the rain gear made me laugh, because that is SO ME. I miss my hiking days :).

  2. I loved every word and every photo. Thanks for making me smile.

  3. I LOVE all the photos, they´re great!!! Thanks for sharing them, I've never been hiking and it sounds wonderful. About your superpower, I also have it except it only works with laundry. I hang it outside to dry, it rains, I take it down, the rain stops :)

  4. Where was this?!?! It's so beautiful - I want to be there right now!! And your pictures look gorgeous - professional, breathtaking, etc. Well done!

  5. Gorgeous pictures! You should sell them :)

  6. You're absolutely right - you can *never* have too many pictures of reflections in lakes. It looks like you had a marvellous hike. I had another accidental one at the weekend, but it wasn't as long (or as beautiful) as yours.

    And FYI - a 'weed' is only a wild flower in the wrong place (according to whomsoever) and that dandelion looked pretty durn good right there, ergo not a weed.

  7. Oh wow - I LOVE all of these photos. Just beautiful!!!

    Yes, a dandelion by a bridge on a mountain trail is definitely a wildflower!

    The rain would've driven me nuts - I think I'd have opted to just get wet (but then I'd have been miserable, so maybe don't take my suggestion here).

  8. Epic indeed! Love, love your pictures. They are a-mazing! Even the one in the hotel room:-) And that purple wildflower is beautiful!!!

  9. I loved everything about this post! I miss you!!! Also that last picture you posted was breathtaking, totally worth the distance and the rain! You are my hero.