A Hike on a Thoroughfare

There is one specific hiking fear/paranoia that worms its way into my brain like an insidious fog every time we’re out on a trail. Bear.  I’m kind of surprised we’ve not yet stumbled across one.  The husband and I are pretty quiet hikers, preferring the solitude of our thoughts and nature to incessant yammering.  We also seek out less-traveled trails, or try to hit popular trails in the off-season.

My bear paranoia was heightened on a hike we took in Sedona, AZ a few years ago.  I have been known to pour over hiking books and websites to find “just the perfect hike.”  We’ve found some pretty perfect ones.  The hike that I chose on that particular day was different than those we had hiked on previous days.  Rather than hiking on top of the red rocks, through washes, across valleys, this hike traveled up a relatively narrow canyon filled with trees.  The red rock towered above us. When we arrived at the trail head we were met by this:

786

Insert nervous laughter here.  The husband?  Not the least bit concerned.  There was some discussion about if we should proceed with the hike.  I reluctantly agreed.  Heightened paranoia.  Particularly when I became aware that we were truly in a canyon.  I was the noisiest I’ve ever been on a hike.  I picked up a stick and tap-tap-tapped my way through rocks.  I babbled about nothing.  I think, at one point, the husband actually asked why I was so talkative.  I believe I stammered the word, “Bear.”

I am happy to report that no bear were seen that day (to my very obvious relief).

A hike on a thoroughfare, cookdrinkhike.wordpress.com

A hike on a thoroughfare, cookdrinkhike.wordpress.com

I tell you this because bears were on my mind when I set out for a hike at Mt. Rainier this last weekend.  The husband and I had long ago made reservations to stay overnight at Paradise Lodge at Mt. Rainier.  The goal?  To catch sunset and sunrise on the beautiful mountain.  And to hike.

A hike on a thoroughfare, cookdrinkhike.wordpress.com

A wrench was thrown in the hiking when the husband developed back pain a couple of weeks ago.  When I wrote this entry a few days ago I said the following:

“It has not waned and has actually settled into his rib cage area.  A girlfriend and I did some Google searches and we, with all of our medical training, concluded that he has pleurisy.  He has a doctors appointment tomorrow (Tuesday).  I’ll let you know if Dr. LaNae was correct.”

Let’s fast forward to present.  We’re currently sitting in a hospital room.  Day two.  Dr. LaNae was incorrect.  The husband has pulmonary embolisms in both lungs.  My go-to phrase these days seems to be “scary shit”.  He had testing on Tuesday and was sent to the ER and then admitted.  He’s on blood thinner now and things are looking up.  We’re waiting for the Doctor this morning in expectation that he’ll be released today.  He may be on blood thinner for life or for 3-6 months, we don’t know, yet.  It’s been an unwelcome adventure that I’m not going to go in exhaustive detail about.  Let’s just sum it up by stating that he’s too young for this scary shit.

A hike on a thoroughfare, cookdrinkhike.wordpress.com

Anyways, it was pretty obvious last Saturday that the husband was not going to be able to hike.  Makes perfect sense now. But, it was a gorgeous (and I do mean gorgeous) fall day and he encouraged me to go.  Hike all by my lonesome?  I’ve not done that before.  I decided to do Skyline trail, which loops just above Paradise.  It’s a pretty easy 5.5 miles of very well-traveled trail, which gave me some comfort since I was solo.  Plus, I figured well-traveled meant less chance of being eaten by a bear.  You think I jest.

A hike on a thoroughfare, cookdrinkhike.wordpress.com

We arrived at Paradise around 11:30.  The lot was overflowing, but we had reserved parking as guests of the lodge. Whoo-hoo!  We checked our car in (our room wouldn’t be available until later) then pulled up a bench outside the lodge to have a bite of lunch.  It was just us….and a few hundred of our closest friends.  Sunny weekend in September?  The mountain was full.  C’mon, man!  The kids have gone back to school!  Isn’t everyone supposed to go home?  Actually, there were a lot of foreigners there (we heard more languages being spoken than we could identify).

A hike on a thoroughfare, cookdrinkhike.wordpress.com

After lunch I got myself organized, strapped on my pack, kissed the husband (who looked rather sad) and headed up the hill.

There were two things I didn’t have to worry about:  hiking solo.  And bears.  Because it was just me…and a few hundred other people.  I can count on one hand the number of times that I had the trail to myself.  And none of those times lasted more than a couple of minutes.

Gives new meaning to the word
Gives new meaning to the word “loungin'”.
This guy actually crossed the trail right in front of me. When he first approached I wondered if he was being aggressive (maybe it was the set of those bucky teeth), but he just wanted to cross the path.
This guy actually crossed the trail right in front of me. When he first approached I wondered if he was being aggressive (maybe it was the set of those bucky teeth), but he just wanted to cross the path.
Grouse!
Grouse!

Hiking on a well-traveled trail like Skyline is always a good opportunity to people watch.  You see everything from people with shiny new packs and hiking boots, carrying enough goods to summit Everest (or, at the very least, Rainier) to people with a  only 12 ounce bottle of water in their hand and flip flops on their feet.  I don’t know which scare me more.  That’s a lie.  The ones who are completely ill-prepared are the ones that worry me.  There was also a good mix of people like me on the trail (and quite a few solo hikers, too).  It was easy to pick them out.

A hike on a thoroughfare, cookdrinkhike.wordpress.com

There’s an interesting character trait of hikers that I appreciate:  they say, “Hello,” as they pass you.  They’re also willing to yield, but that’s a whole other story.  They’re also not stomping around off-trail destroying delicate meadows.

Anyways, back to the, “Hello.”  I started off saying, “Hello,” to everyone I passed.  That was a lot of, “Hellos.”  But, after a while I realized that a great many people weren’t returning my greeting.  And, after paying a bit of attention, I started to recognize those that were likely to offer or return a, “Hello,” and those who would not.  So, I offered selective greetings.  It was a bit of a game.

A hike on a thoroughfare, cookdrinkhike.wordpress.com

A hike on a thoroughfare, cookdrinkhike.wordpress.com

I took quite a while on the hike.  First of all, it was gorgeous.  Second of all, remember the part about there being a zillion people?  Thirdly, I was taking pictures.  Lots of pictures.  Too many pictures.  I looked like a photographic nerd.  I had my Canon 60d strapped across my chest and my Canon point-n-shoot in my pocket.  I only have a couple of lenses, as I’ve only had my camera for a few months.  I used the 50mm for pretty much the entire weekend, except for when I was zooming in on the marmots (I loves them).  Then I switched out to the 70-200.  However, with the 50mm I had a difficult time capturing the entire mountain.  I think I need a wide-angle lens.  Not that I know what number is associated with such a lens.  All in good time.

Chipmunk on a mission.
Chipmunk on a mission.

I returned to the lodge a little before 4 pm.  The husband had checked into our itty-bitty room (which I’ll tell you about later) and was resting.  I took a quick shower so I would no longer smell myself and we cracked open a large Rogue Hazelnut Brown.  The perfect beverage to wash the trail dust out of my throat.

A hike on a thoroughfare, cookdrinkhike.wordpress.com

Still to share:  the lodge, the sunset, the sunrise.

Couldn't quite get myself situated to get the mountain behind me. Selfie inept.
Couldn’t quite get myself situated to get the mountain behind me. Selfie inept.

13 thoughts on “A Hike on a Thoroughfare

  1. I’m sure I should be more anxious about solo hiking–it’s the only kind I do. I have a bear bell that I pull out of its silencer when I’m really alone (one passed me last time I did the Skyline with my hundred besties; seriously?) and a whistle. In the rainforest this month, when I read the “do not hike alone” cougar warning, I was a little ancy. I need to get to Rainier before the snow comes.

    Like

    1. I think you’re very brave to hike solo and I applaud you for it…as long as you’re prepared. Do you have your ten essentials? Do you always tell people specifically where you will be? Look at me…lecturing you. 🙂 We’re hoping to get up to Tolmie Peak or Spray Park the first part of October if the snow holds off. And cougars are a whole different thing. Of course, the nice thing about cougars is that, with bears, you see the whole thing coming…cougars are stealthy…they’ll have you down before you know what hit you. That’s preferable, yes? 🙂

      Like

  2. Lanae, I’m very sorry to hear about your husband and the pulmonary embolisms. What a shock it must have been to find that out. I hope he can get out of the hospital as soon as medically safe and start recovering in the comfort of home and get himself better and that you’ll also take care of yourself during this very stressful time. You might have to bake him some extra special pies.

    Staying at Paradise Inn was an awesome idea. I’ve always wanted to do that but never have (we’ve stayed at Longmire a couple times). And it was sure a bonanza of scenery and wildlife on Mt. Rainier for you! All of this hand-wringing about bears is completely unnecessary- did you know that statistically-speaking, you’re far more likely to be bitten by a mosquito than to see a bear?

    Like

    1. Thanks, Jason. Very kind words. He’s actually being released today and is on the road to recovery without any expected long-lasting complications. Which is good because we’re too young for this shit. 🙂 I’m sure he would appreciate extra special pie.

      Statistics-smastistics…it only takes one rogue bear to chew me to pieces. 😉

      Like

  3. Glad to hear your husband’s going to be OK…and that was a gorgeous hike you took!

    Having lived in bear country, and crossed paths with bears several times, I can tell you it’s city bears you have to worry about most, because they’re not so scared of people. Crash around a lot, make noise, and they’ll do their best to stay out of your way. 🙂

    Like

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s