Hiking In The Alpine|Things I Wished I Knew Before

Hiking is a rewarding experience many people in the PNW thoroughly enjoy. Last summer I had the opportunity to experience hiking in remote, alpine regions of Western Washington. When I first started out on the big adventure last summer, I failed to realized I may not know what I was up against. I learned the hard way on a few occasion.

What I failed to realized turned into an adventure within an adventure. Here are the things I wished I knew before hiking in the alpine.

Altitude sickness is not for planes:
I have spent most of my life at or a little above sea level and only experienced altitude sickness when in Tanzania. I should have listened when my own body started to struggle with keeping water and a granola bar down. Breathing started to become harder as I climbed further up the mountain, and the dizziness set in when ever I had to exert more energy to get over a log. I thought I was out of shape, but this is not true.

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Lesson: Hiking takes a lot of effort to reach the end point. When hiking in alpine mountain regions, you have to take your time going up, and really tune in with what your body is telling you before it is too late. I was lucky it did not get to this point, but it could have become a major medical emergency.

Beware of snow:
Sheets of ice is more like it! Snow can be found in areas in the middle of summer. Avalanches still happen in the summer as they do in the winter. I recall a moment when hiking up to Fremont Lookout in Mt. Rainer National Park last summer where what sound as a gun shot going off in the distance followed by the sound of a roar alerted everyone in the hiking group of an avalanche sliding down the side of the opposite mountain side! Not to mention slipping and landing hard on a snow cover rock or worst falling into a craven or a lake! You may want to have a snowball fight, but be warned, they hurt when it hits you!

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Lesson: Be aware of the snow around you. Falling and breaking something is a danger no matter how prepared you are.

Toilet paper is your friend:
The one time I decided to forgo the toilet paper was the time there was no toilet paper to be had! Normally I would carry a role of toilet paper in my pack, but the one time I forgo it was at a trail head outhouse where there were no rolls left by other hikers. Thank goodness it was not while in the Olympic National Park (mountain goats smell urine and can result in a deadly encounter!), but in Mount Baker National Forest. Hiking up the trail and air yourself out is not the best way to start a hike.

Lesson: Always pack a roll of toilet paper while hiking, traveling in a remote area and road trips. I had mine in Tanzania, but for some reason, I did not have one in the wilderness of Washington!

Wildlife, they are not always afraid of you:
The sound of marmots whistling at you is a warning to other marmots of your present, but a deer, bear, cougar or any other such animals, are not afraid of you. I will not forget the time a hiking group left me alone out in the open when a deer suddenly bolted upright and headed into the trees sensing a predator. I at the time sense something was not right, and that a bear or cougar was in the area. Fear of knowing at any moment those two animals are not afraid of you is scary. Imagine hiking down the side of the mountain with just a headlamp and see a bear or worst a cougar in your path. These animals think you are the prey.

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Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

Lesson: Be aware of your surroundings, and take caution when hiking through bear or cougar country.

Alpine lakes are cold, proceeded with caution:
When there is snow present, there is a lake or river somewhere near by. Lakes in alpine regions are cold-hypothermia cold. Most alpine lakes are fed by snow or glaciers melting, making these lakes crisp, cold and deadly clear. Swimming in them should be done with caution if not ever. On a hot sweaty hiking day in the summer they are inviting, but not all alpine lakes are the same temperature, and each one you encounter will feel different. Having your body submerged in for one minute can cause hypothermia to the body. I remember standing in such lake up to my wast, and started to not be able to feel my legs!! It was difficult to get out of the water, and took ten minutes of rubbing my legs to get the deathly white color to a living flesh color. The rest of the hike back down to the van was painful.

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Also, the water is not exactly safe the drink either from a glacier stream, river or lake.

Lesson: Just dip you hot sweaty feet into the water instead of the shoreline and treat the water you pull from the lake if drinking it.

Storm clouds are in your face:
I will not forget staring face to face with a dark black cloud on the Johnson’s Ridge Observatory Trail at Mount St. Helens. Being high up with little to no treeline protection can mean anything can happen in a split second. Scary when the cloud can have lightning. Hurricane Hill in Olympic National Park I remember how fast those clouds moved across the landscape, and how one minute it is a nice sunny day with warmth to a few seconds it is blizzard conditions and the temperature drops to freezing. A simple rain jacket is not enough, nor a simple baseball cap and even the fleece jacket does not keep you warm. Hypothermia strikes by lightening or anything nature throws at you can become life to death situation.

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Lesson: Be prepared for all-weather conditions and pack winter clothing when hiking in higher regions of the mountains not matter if it is an eighty degree weather day. Dressing in layers that can be easily shed during the hike or put on is your friend.

Go Girl can be a lifesaver:
Men have it easier than women when needing to go on a backcountry trail. Men just go off into the bushes without much thought, but us women, we need to find a secluded vulnerable place to do our business. After having to (TMI alert) pee off a trail stripping to be half-naked, and almost if not peeing on ones self, is just too much work (and cold wind blowing on your bum).  Not to mention some other hikers just don’t get it why you are crouched down in the bushes!

Lesson: Get a Go Girl to use for hikes where the nearest outhouse is miles away, and you can discreetly just go behind a bush.

Wildfires:
Where there is smoke, there is a fire! This is not something I learned the hard way, but it was always in the back of the mind. Hiking in the alpine and backcountry regions of the mountains during the late spring through the fall can put hikers into the path of a wildfire. From an old fire lookout, I saw a two (one-off in Canada, the other in Eastern Washington) wildfires in the distance burning in the opposite directions from me. Still, to see the smoke hanging in the air, it was a sign to start back down to safety in case the fire decided to switch directions.

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Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

What to do: Always check conditions before leaving on the hike, being aware of the surrounding area, and when you smell smoke, see it or hear it, move fast away from it. See this link for more information: Dos and Don’t s of Wildfires.

Once you hike in the alpine, you are never the same again!

This summer go enjoy a backcountry hike, and don’t do what I did!

Don’t Be A Trail Jerk!

Over the years as I have gone hiking around Washington, I am still appalled at behavior of other trail hikers. At this point I no longer go hiking up to Rattlesnake Ledge after witnessing some very scary sh*t of some people on the ledge. Last summer I hiked many spectacular places in western Washington, but what the pictures don’t show you is the bad behavior some users have left behind. Most trail, mountaineer, back-country organizations and US Forest Service have stressed enough times is, LEAVE NO TRACE BEHIND of your presences.

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Photo by rawpixel.com on Pexels.com

Still there are people who are “trail” jerks who think it is okay not to follow common sense or trail etiquette. A Trail Jerk is defined as people who do not get it-who think they can do anything they want whether they want to where ever they want because “we are taxpayers and no one is going to tell us what we can and can’t do”  (If you think you maybe a trail jerk take this quiz by PNW Adventure Sisters).

With Seattle having an influx of people who want to get out of the city enjoy nature, there are going to be problems arising on trails. These problems don’t have to be the norm (never should be!) if all trail users (including pets) followed common sense rules and laws.

Here are some important rules to follow on your next hike through nature:

Keep dogs on leashes
Not only does it protect your dog from wildlife, but keeps other trail users safe from your dog. People on trails do get injured from dogs not on a leash after falls, or trips happen. Imagine causing someone to fall off a side of cliff because your dog tripped them? Also it protects sensitive areas that would take years to restore once disturbed.

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Know the right way
What does this mean? It means when encountering other hikers on the trail, the general rule is the person going downhill yields to the person going uphill. I have seen countless times people not yielding to each other only to shoulder checking each other while passing. On mix use trails mountain bikes yield to hikers and everyone, yes everyone, must yield to horses.

Step aside to let people pass
Like driving on a freeway, let the faster hikers, and trail runners pass you. If you are the fast hiker or trail runner, make sure to make your presence known to the other with a polite simple hello or excuse me when approaching. Also to other hikers, be aware of those around you in case someone is trying to pass. It is better to make yourself known when passing as to not surprise the person.

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Hiking in groups
When hiking in a group don’t take up the whole width of the trail not allowing people to pass your group. Hiking in a single file line is much appreciated, and still can have a conversation with those in the group.

Taking a trail break or stopping
Move off the trail or over the side when you need a break or stopping for a nature selfie. Allowing people to pass is common curtsies bestowed on others, which will be returned further up or down the trail. Also do not abruptly stop in the middle of the trail with people behind unless there is something very wrong up ahead.

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Stay on the trail
This should be common sense. Leave not trace is not a rule, but a necessity.

Hike quietly
Speak in low voices whenever possible. Hiking on the trail for some is to be in a quiet place where they can listen to nature’s soundtrack instead of the latest rap song! Playing music as you hike through a speaker disturbs not only nature, but disturbs other people who come for peace and quiet. Please, just please, use headphones if you like a hiking soundtrack other then nature’s. I thank you in advance for this.

Pack all waste out
Human, pet, food, etc. Just pack out what you hiked in with (unless water). Do not relieve yourself outdoors unless 200ft from the trail and away from water sources. Those who happen upon someone relieving themselves, just keep moving on!

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Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

Let cairns be
Cairn are pyramids of small rocks that mark trail routes and decorate mountain summits. Hikers rely on cairns to find their way along trails. Respect them! Destroying them is a no-no!

We all want to have an enjoyable experience in nature, so do not be trail jerks and follow simple etiquette rules for everyone.

Inside The Amazon Spheres

Every first and third Saturday of the month Amazon lets the public tour inside the spheres and on this particular trip, the Corps flower was ready to bloom! I will admit, I am jealous of the employees of Amazon for having access to an amazing space to work and wish more companies would utilize more nature in their buildings. The Spheres exterior is made up of 2,636 panes of glass, making it a greenhouse/bio dome effect. For the plant nerd in me I was in heaven! This living wall in 60 feet tall and expands all the way up to the fourth floor of the middle sphere. The Spheres have over 40,000 plants from cloud forests around the world. The plants inside are native to mid-elevation cloud forest ecosystems at altitudes of 3,000 to 10,000 feet. The plants are a remarkable testament to biodiversity found in nature around the world with 3,000 of the plant species coming from tropical forests. All plants present in the Spheres are sourced through collections at universities, seed growers and are not taken from the wild. There are orchids, epiphytes, succulents, and carnivorous plants hidden among all the other tropical plants. The Spheres even houses ethnological species that cure disease and some are endangered in the wild. Now this rather large plant is the Corps flower which when it blooms it will give off a smell described at rotting flesh. If you are reading this live, the flower at the time of visit was just days from opening. The flowering plant is a rare sight to behold since it takes years for the flower to fully form to bloom. The canopy walk and the birds nest are crowed favorites! The wooden boards give the effect of an old tree house when taking across them! As a scientist and a nature nerd, I highly recommend going to see The Spheres and learn more about Amazon’s innovative thinking about the how workplace spaces in urban offices should have a direct link to nature. Also on weekends the public parking garages under the Amazon buildings close by are free.

Girls Day At The Ballpark| Mariners vs. LA Angles

What more could be perfect then spend a birthday at the ball park? After all I did spend two months hammering out a four part series about it. The birthday ballgame was the Seattle Mariners vs. LA Angles, and it was little league day. During game pauses, the camera caught many of the kids dancing to the music on the jumbo screen. This made for a very entertaining day.

Thirty two years never looked so good! And a great start to another year of anything possible when you looked at this view from the beginning of the game. Just by the view we had great seats! Even eating one ballpark brat, countless handfuls of white cheddar puffs, and a few peanuts, I just could not beat how good it felt to pig out for once (training for the 5k is hard at times). Next month I will be running around this field for 5k so I look forward to “running” the bases.

I’m so thankful for these wonderful friends who made the day fun and exciting! Even with the seats being in the sun, we all some how survive the heat and may have sunburns to prove it. Also the arrow pointing to me is in reference to the other girl on my left is my birthday twin.

The game was interesting with at least one home run by the Mariners, but alas, the Mariners lost to the Angles. Maybe at the next ball game I attend the Mainers will win! Keeping fingers crossed!

Commit To Healthy|150 Days Becoming Healthy

With the start of the month being national taco day, and all the BBQs from that point on, no wonder I had to really ramp up the workouts. Also the fact someone kept taking my lunch a work a few times so the food truck was being frequented more than it should have. The thing is, becoming healthy becomes even harder when someone keeps stealing your healthy lunch you made. I never thought someone would steal a salad, but then again people do weird things when hungry. At least they returned the empty containers back to the fridge in the end.

So with drama here is the low down on what happened 150 days into becoming healthier me.

How Was I Successful?

Packed a healthy lunch for work- for someone else to eat. At least I did make a healthy lunch so I give myself points for this. Also the fact I have not been eating at my desk, but being more social with others and taking walks around the business park has helped to get me ready for the 5k in July and to relax before jumping back into work for the rest of the day.

Lake Washington

Earlier in the month we had a lot of nice warm sunny days where relaxation by a body of water was perfect. After a stressful days at work, and all the things life throws in the mix, finding time to relax has become priority. A few friends and I have been doing a Bible study on Thursday nights at one of their houses. Just being near and hearing sounds of waves lapping in the background as we discuss a book in the Bible has an amazing calming effect needed to get through Friday.

What Didn’t Go So Well?

Who the f8ck keeps stealing my salad?! The fact I had to eat off the food truck more than I would like to have done, this was not something I would count as a success this month. Besides eating off a truck is unhealthy and EXPENSIVE as hell, and not to mention buying the healthy ingredients can be expensive, it did not deterred me from at least having two other meals that day healthy.

I started to have one to two glasses of Ros`e and Juanita’s chili chips after work every Friday. I call it stress eating with the chips, but as person who does not see herself identifying with millennials I sure am getting into the whole wine thing.

Rose and chips after a long week at work

What Can I do Differently?

Put my lunch in this cooler like bag next time

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Think Geek

I’M KIDDING.. well maybe not.

Another thing I could really do differently figure out how to workout in the morning without feeling icky afterwards. I think eating too soon after a workout maybe the culprit, and this coming month I need to figure out how to best go about eating breakfast without it making me sick afterwards.

How Am I Feeling?

In almost two months I will be running 3.1 miles around a stadium and right now I feel as if I could do it.

What Motivates Me?

I keep typing the some thing to this question but it is true. What is motivating me is the 3.1 mile 5k I will be doing in July and the Mariners game afterwards. Also just the fact I am getting healthier and stronger every week.

I Give Myself  3/5  Stars this month due to consuming not so healthy options for lunch after having my lunch stolen a few times.

Baseball As A Road To God|Part 4

Whew this has been one long stretch to write this series on this blog. In the last installment of this series I will be going though the last three innings to the final destination, the clubhouse. The place where baseball legends never die.

7th Inning: Saints and Sinners:

When I think of saints and sinners in baseball, the movie Sandlot comes to mind. There are references to Babe Ruth littered throughout the whole movie, and yet one scene that comes perfectly clear of saints is the chewing tobacco scene before the fair ride. “Chaw-saving for a good time.” Well you know exactly what happens after they chew it.

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Chew Scene
The Sandlot

So how does it play into saints and sinners? Think about how the group of boys look up to the ballplayers of the day (1950s) and doing the same things as they do. Perspective is often central to how a fan feels about a ball player. The very definition of sainthood serves to make human beings whom we other humans can relate. Its an induction into a honor society of those who are the best of what we can be. Baseball celebrates its heroes, the legends, and immortalize them into what is called the Hall of Fame. Same goes for religion where Christians have a number of ordinary humans who managed to before immortalized as saints (Mother Theresa).

Yet what fans think players are saints, could be in fact a sinner. Yes I went there! If ballplayers are judge on their performance on the field, they would look like saints of the sport. But when you think of it, they are simply sinners or worst, nasty people at times. Now not all are nasty, but when you hold someone up to the highest, the not so great things are swept aside. See reputations do in fact follow on and off the field as most major athletes can attests to. Baseball shines a spotlight on each player on the field and in some capacity the player is fighting their own demons or moral dilemmas. Professional baseball is played by humans, surprising-if hardly- the sport reveals the human propensity to cut moral corners. Even as far as cheat. Baseball like in religion, judging others is a flawed endeavor whether in professions or in athletics because it is done by fallible humans. Still baseball celebrates both flawed heroes and it’s saints in equal measure.

7th Inning Stretch

Anyone who has been to an intense ballgame or religious service is well aware of the intermission. At the church I attend there is an intermission between praise worship singing and the preaching in the form of going around shaking hands in fellowship. The same can be said of baseball, where as a community of fans and players go through the age old tradition of a rousing version of “Take Me Out To The Ballgame.” No announcement, no request, just rise from the seat as a congregation and break from the intensity of action on the field. Just as different faith denominations, baseball does not have an uniform version of the seventh inning stretch. Each team, each stadium has traditions in which the all moving parts come together in unity. Really the seventh inning stretch is moment of prayer, a reflection, a pause of self awareness, and setting stage for the next moments of the last two innings. A moment of stillness before the storm.

With the stretch completed…. the ball, sacred symbol and reality, remains in play for all, and the game of life.. I mean baseball game continues.

8th Inning: Community:

The community of baseball has a power to bring people together in expanding levels of relationship: parents and child, neighbor and friend, community and city, state and the nation. Think of those summer days watching a game, all assembled as one in a park sharing in the awesomeness of the moment together with like minded people. Community made up of many different groups of people in one common shared belief. Collection of rituals, tall tales, homespun charm, carefully passed down from one person to the next. Same goes for religious faith where the belief is not confined to sect, class or race. A common faith of mankind. The community of rooting for one’s own team is accessible to anyone who simply revels in the beauty and gifts of the game. As of date the game reaches not only the American people, but around the world. Japan’s love affair with Ichiro Suzuki of the Seattle Mariners and New York Yankees runs deep. The community of baseball fans in Japan would lead the Mariners to play their first game of 2019 season in Tokyo against the Oakland A’s.

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Ichiro signing for fans in Tokyo Japan
Seattle Times

The best thing about baseball is the last attraction flows from the game’s ability to bring people together to create community to foster bonds of lasting power based on shared memories and experiences. Not only from a fan base, but also from a players base as well. Think about all the players in little league, middle school, high school, and college who build a community or are a part of a everlasting community for the rest of their life. Religious communities are more than the congregations that gather for services, but a community that shares a same belief and lasting bond. Baseball communities large or small is where the spirit lives beyond what appears to eyes and mind.

9th Inning: Nostalgia:

Baseball, almost alone among our sports, traffics unashamedly and gloriously in nostalgia, for only baseball understands time and treats it with respect.

Stanley Cohen

This inning is really about the myth of the eternal return. The throwback journey from baseball’s present to its past and back again. Nostalgia is one of baseball’s defining attributes according to John Sexton. The game’s past shadows its present, and there is conjured for instruction, to prod memories, and revive dormant emotions. On the road to God, Christians pay tribute to the past while in the present. The same rituals done over millennium still being done today, each paying respect to those who have come before in form of memorials. In baseball there is one important respect to the originals, the numbers stitched to the present player’s back. Today numbers memorialized a great player, each one retired for all time on a that team or in the case of Jackie Robinson, on all teams. These numbers are plaques marking a person’s life in baseball, as plaques are laid where a love one has been called home to the Lord. The practice of retired numbers started when Gehrig courageous revelation he was suffering from the disease (Gehrig Disease) that killed him and Babe Ruth’s in 1948 when dying of cancer. Old uniforms and numbers in baseball, as is in religion, are venerated and treated with respect.

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Retired Yankees Numbers
INSC

How can this be similar to religion you ask? Mircea Eliade wrote “nostalgia for origins is equivalent to a religious nostalgia.” We as humans desire to recover the active presence of the gods; we desire to live in a world as it came from the Creator’s hands. The pure, fresh, and strong aspects of the world. See the journey home (as it is in baseball’s ultimate goal) is what Eliade called the myth of eternal return; going beyond marking an event to reliving it. A ceremony (liturgy), a memory celebrated, and religious man attempts to approach the gods to participate in being. The past and present are more clearly linked, one enhancing, informing the other. The dialog between the past and present causes us to touch a spot deep within ourselves-to thank God for what has been.

Clubhouse

Baseball is defined by wonder and amazement; it is defined by elements of faith, doubt, conversion, accursedness, blessings-all associated with religious experience-the spirituality of the game. Baseball is as in religion is a deep faith that cannot exist inless there is doubt, its handmaiden as John Sexton points out, confronting doubt is a central challenge on both religion and life from the earliest Christian theologians to the Seattle Mariners journey to a Wold Series game.

1st base is temptation, 2nd base is sin, 3rd base is tribulation. Jesus is standing at the home plate, he’s waiting for you there. Pitcher is Satan, Solomon is the umpire and the lead off man is Daniel, who gets the first hit. The game’s home run is hit by Job, wielding the ‘strong bat’ of prayer. The chorus ends with a rousing “Life is a ball game,” but you’ve got to play it fair.

Sister Wynona Carr “Life Is A Baseball Game”
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Good o’ Babe Ruth
The Sandlot

Baseball through in through is a game of life and one of the many roads to God. Each inning in a person’s life is played out in one game, whether loose or win, you have to play if fair.

After all…”you are killing me smalls!” 😉

For the whole series:
Parts: 1, 2,3

Baseball As A Road To God: Seeing Beyond the Game, by John Sexton