Monday, July 22, 2013

Getting in Shape for the Arizona Trail 2015


7/21/13: This morning I headed up the mountain from Alpine Lakes Wilderness Trailhead where I have been boondocking a couple of days. Planned on a 1-3 hr. hike.  In the words of C.W. McCall… the trail was a bunch of Zs and Ws all strung together.  Geez!  And a great gain in altitude in a very short distance.

Location : Alpine Lakes Wilderness Trailhead


First thing that occurred to me was that my lungs were congested.  Second thing that I noticed were giant heat-seeking mosquitos.  The trail was much steeper than I realized and after 45 minutes going uphill, I realized I was very out of shape and ill-prepared…. i.e. no mosquito repellent.  I had not seen ONE mosquito in my camp in two days, so I assumed there weren’t any.  I know my limits, and as soon as I came into contact with something that will make me itch, some internal panic alarm goes off… so I decided to turn back.


I ran into one gal coming down the mountain, who had just hiked 9 miles from Lake Augusta… with her dog.  I ran into an elderly couple heading up the trail… who looked to be older than me… judging from their sunken eye sockets… but were lean and moving pretty fast. They were heading out for a could days of backpacking and headed toward Lake Augusta and Big Jim Mountain.  Looked very experienced and I envied them their fitness level.  They said that gal must have left Augusta at 4am to get this far this fast.  She was flying.  Will I  need to be able to go that fast to hike the Arizona Trail???  Can I hike that fast?


Poison Oak… I don’t know?

The trail was steep… with a number of downed trees to climb over.  In places the underbrush was so thick it covered the trail… and was taller than me (5’7”).  There was a 3-leafed plant with some white berries on I, and some turned bright red… and I wondered if that was Poison Oak???  I checked at the trailhead and there were no warnings or photos posted.  I’ll have to check online.  Took some photos.  Just in case, I returned to the van, removed all my clothes and bagged them up.  And then scrubbed all my exposed skin.

Other thing I was unprepared for… wearing cotton.  While it is cooling, it holds the water… and I was surprised how much I sweated and how much humidity was in the air.  In just 1 hr. and 15 minutes, my cotton items were soaking wet.  I did have fleece pants on… so they were dry, but if I had been a long way from safety and weather had turned or it had gotten cold… I would have gotten chilled to the bone very fast.  So, even in good warm hiking weather, I need to take this “cotton” lesson seriously. 


Roots forming steps on the trail.

Final item/lesson… feet.  I’ve been sitting in a boat, kayaking all over the place and by back and shoulders are in good shape….however, the ol’ doggies aren’t in very good shape.  The balls of both of my feet were really hurting before I got back down the trail.  On a longer hike, I’d have gotten blisters for sure.  I need to ALWAYS carry either duck tape or mole skin.  I should also see a podiatrist about the left foot as I think there could be a bone spur that is causing a problem.  It’s been a chronic issue for a long time… but facing an 820 mile hike, I need to pay more attention to this and resolve it if possible.  I need to toughen up these feet.

And bug repellent… being a person very sensitive to insect bites, I MUST ALWAYS have repellent and a head net.  ALWAYS.

Nothing to do but return to camp and eat banana bread and a banana.


I left Hatchery Creek and pushed on in search of a trash can.  Finally found one at the restrooms at Stevens Pass.  Then driving a short way I took another side road… a dead end.


It went right past the Cascade Railroad Tunnel entry.  Neat-o!  Going up the Old Cascade Highway to the end and a turn around, I found a bike bridge crossing the Tye River?  I’m parking there tonight, maybe a few days if there isn’t any traffic.  Very peaceful.

Who is Swankie?

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Anywhere, USA, Full-Time USA traveler, United States
In 2006, I was shopping for a wheelchair. By 2007, I had new knees, better health and by 2008 a kayak. In Aug 2013, I kayaked my 49th state, Alaska, at the Holgate Glacier and in May 2014, I kayaked Hawaii, my 50th state, to celebrate my 70th Birthday and the finale to the wonderful adventure of Kayaking America? Next up... Solo Hiking the Arizona Trail, 820 miles? Maybe. Still healing from shoulder and trying to decide.