An arduous hike

The view from Silver Star that Nancy wanted to get to the top to see. This picture is copied from her trip report.

Last Wednesday started with an arduous (for me) hike that gave me aches and pains for a couple of days afterward. Maja and I wanted to return to the central part of Gifford Pinchot Forest to try to find the North Siouxon Creek Trail that is in a county park next to the forest, but my sister-in-law talked me into trying to hike Silver Star Mountain via Grouse Vista Trail.

Here’s the view from the point that I made it up the mountain, a little more than halfway up the trail.

I was reluctant to try this hike, because I have been hiking easy trails until recently, and we have only tried two moderate hikes. On some hiking sites, Grouse Vista was rated hard. Also, it is a 6.8-mile hike, and I have only hiked two 7-mile hikes, both of them on almost flat surfaces. This hike has an elevation change of more than 2000 feet. I’m fairly sure I haven’t hiked up anywhere near like 2000 feet. So, I was reluctant to go, but Nancy talked me into trying it, saying that an alternative was the Tarbell Trail to Hidden Falls, which was at the same trailhead.

The hike begins with a 0.8 uphill that is relatively steep and very rocky. It didn’t look completely undoable, however, so I bypassed the Tarbell Trail and continued upward. I had to stop lots of times for heavy breathing. Nancy lead me to believe, however, that that would be the toughest part of the hike and there would only be one more uphill that was considerably shorter. Well, I made it up, but the problem was that it was so hard for me to do it that when the trail leveled out, I was feeling really tired. We stopped for lunch and I still didn’t feel much better. So, by the time we rounded Pyramid Rock, one of the trail’s landmarks, and I saw a nice, flat rock to sit on, I decided to wait. I was thinking that I had to make it back out of there!

Nancy told me to have a rest and start back down, but Maja told me I shouldn’t try to go down by myself. She said she was going up another half hour and then she would come back for me. Since my brother John, who hikes all the time, told me once that you should never leave anyone behind on a hike, I felt that it was better for me to wait.

And it’s a good thing I did, because Maja came back reporting that the steep part at the top had been considerably steeper and the rocks bigger and loose. She did not make it to the top and fell once coming back down the loose rocks. Also, once we got back down to that last 0.8 miles, I found it was much harder to go down than come back up. By then, I was exhausted, and the rocks that seemed so well seated in the mud now showed an alarming tendency to roll. I had a major case of stumblefoot, and I had to pick my way slowly back down. While Maja and I were doing this (she would go down a way and wait for me), Nancy came walking right past us after having gone all the way to the top. She said she’d meet us at the car.

When we got to the junction of the Tarbell Trail, the path changed from rocks to a nice forest duff, so I thought I could then stride out and walk normally. But I’d been picking my way down for so long that I was unable to walk normally. I asked Maja, and she said the same. When I finally made it down to the car, I could barely walk across the road to where it was parked.

Nancy was very congratulatory about how well I did, but I will not willingly tackle a hike that hard for another long while. In fact, shockingly, she said, “I thought that when you saw the trail, you would just decide to take the Tarbell Trail.” This, after all the “you can do it” remarks and the implication that she would be willing to take the other path if I wanted to. It became plain to me that Nancy was determined to do that hike (well, that was obvious before when she wouldn’t accept any of my alternative suggestions) and nothing much else counted.

It wasn’t until about Sunday that I felt normal.

On Thursday before art class my sister and I went to see my great nephew Søren do his first belt test. He is in Little Tigers in taekwondo, and they were really cute. One of the kids was only three, and he had to be turned around and moved along by the instructors. He clearly had no clue what was going on. We saw Søren do his routine, but we couldn’t wait for the whole class to finish to watch him get his belt, or we would have been late for class.

On Sunday, Deb and I had theater tickets up at Love Street Playhouse in Woodland. The last time we attended a play up there, we looked at the options for lunch and finally went to the Ilani Casino in Ridgefield. That restaurant was overpriced and the food not that good, so this time I decided to make us lunch. That had me busy cleaning and cooking on Friday and Saturday.

We had a nice lunch of mushroom-artichoke soup, crab stuffed avocadoes, quiche, and cucumber sandwiches. We also had a pumpkin pie smackdown, where we both made pumpkin pie and tasted both. They both had their good points. Mine was sweeter and fluffier, hers was spicier and more pumpkiny.

Then we went to the play. It was And Then There Were None, the Sean Connery movie version, not the original book or play version. I have to say that we were a little disappointed after we saw such a refreshingly lively play this summer. We decided the acting just wasn’t that good, whereas this summer there were a few good actors.

And that’s about all of interest to happen this week. I am getting ready for my hike today.

A scent of fresh Heyer

One of the pleasures of this weekend was a visit to a small local theater where Deb and I saw they were doing a play based on a Georgette Heyer book, The Talisman Ring. Now, I am not a romance reader, but I have been fond of Georgette Heyer’s clever and funny Regency romances since I was in college, and I introduced Deb to them last year. So, when I saw that this tiny theater was doing an Heyer-based play, we just had to get tickets.

The poster for The Talisman Ring

The play was in the Love Street Playhouse in Woodland, Washington. It holds fewer than 100 people and has a very small stage, hampered by doors that have to be opened to make it a little larger. We were delightfully surprised at the production. It is one of Heyer’s typically frothy stories with a complicated plot about a lost heir, a false accusation of murder, and a lost ring. We found it original in its approach to some difficulties (not being able to have horses on stage, for example) and very funny. The two female leads were particularly good. I was struck by a scene where the standard dashing hero (who, if you know Heyer, you will know is not the actual hero of the play) flings one of the heroines onto his horse and rides off into the woods. The couple merely sat on a bench with wheels, while people holding branches and small trees ran past them.

Anyway, we found it lots of fun (despite being hampered by having one of the actors from the Magenta Theater in a lead role—the weakest performance, we thought) and have decided to get tickets for their next production, And Then There Were None.

Luke and I also had some sort of visitation last week. I was outside in the garden and he was on the front lawn chewing his bone. At one point, he suddenly ran from the front yard past the garden, which is in the side yard. Just as he did that, a creature ran the same direction only up above me on the ridge above our front yard. It was large and made a lot of noise but ran swiftly, too fast for a human. Oddly, it wasn’t Luke that ran last. He wasn’t running after it, it began running after he did but did not come down to our level. I didn’t see it, but I think it sounded too large and noisy to be a deer. In any case, if it had been an animal that was startled by Luke, it would have run first, not last. I talked it over with my pack walk ladies, and one of them suggested it might be a cougar or a bear. Right above us on the ridge, which is about the height of our one-story house. And I suspect that if it ran after Luke did, it was stalking him and did nothing because it saw me at the last moment. I have been keeping a much closer eye on him when he’s been outside on his own (which he doesn’t like to do anyway; he is constantly asking to go out but then refusing to go unless I go with him).

Shawn and I on the 45th Parallel trail at Whipple Creek Park, this photo sneakily taken by Nancy

Last Wednesday, we went to Whipple Creek Park for our hike. We had originally planned to take a very easy hike, because my niece wanted to bring her friend, who is not fit. However, they cancelled because my niece was sick. It was the first hike for my sister-in-law, Nancy, so we went somewhere a little more interesting. At her suggestion, instead of just hiking the main paths, we took a secondary path that cut right through the middle of the park. It was actually an easier path than the main ones, because it had very little elevation change. We were the only ones on that path, although we passed several runners and horse riders on the main paths.

There was no puppy play again for Luke this week, and no classes either, so on Friday, Christine and I took our dogs for a walk in Lewisville Park. It was starting to get warm by the time we finished, a trend that continued until Monday, when a thunderstorm and a cold front came in. The temperature went down Monday evening about 10 degrees in a few minutes, and it continues to be cooler than average.

Hillary continues to improve, I think. She has changed from eating kitten food to eating chicken breast lunch meat (low sodium). It is probably not really good for her, but everything else she chose to eat, she stopped eating after a day or two. Not only has she been eating the chicken breast since Friday, but she has been devouring it, begging for more almost every time I pass her. I hope to see her gain some weight and seem a little less weak. We tried giving her chicken breast that we cooked and tore up about a week ago, but she did not eat it. There must be something about the softer texture of the lunch meat that she likes. Wayne is not enjoying the expense, but if she’ll eat it, she gets it, as far as I’m concerned.

In art class, I finished the blackish teal color and started painting some aqua spots on the starfish. These spots are speckled in the photo I am painting from, and to re-create the effect, I am painting them with a slightly darker color and then dotting them with white while the paint is still wet. It took me a long time just to do a few. In a few instances, I noticed some yellow as well as white, so I have dotted some of them with yellow. I didn’t get very far doing these spots last week, and this week there is no class because of the holiday.

My first batch of green peas

In the garden, I’ve started to pick spinach and I have harvested just a few pods of green peas. Last year, I only got enough peas to add a few to a mixed vegetable dish. This year, I have that many already and a bunch more pods coming in.

The other notable thing I did this week was finish reading a book written by my middle brother. Although it is fiction, it is based on true events in our family, some of which I knew about and some not. It was difficult for me to read, and I admit to being a little freaked out about it.