Sunday, April 28, 2013

Thankful for my Booty

Beth and I just wanted to go for a nice little walk.
For quite some time I had been wanting to check out an area in Kamloops known simply as The Hoodoos. I thought it looked pretty neat and wanted to check it out. So on Saturday afternoon we left for a nice little jaunt through the hills.
(These are Hoodoos. They look small, don't be deceived, they are massive.)
It was not a jaunt.
And it wasn't very nice either.
What I had been told was a nice little walk, was a hike. The first part of our hike took us along the side of a mountain. I'd classify this area as a moderate trail. Fairly narrow, a steady incline, loose rocks etc. Nothing unmanageable for us. We reached the mid-point on the mountain and had the decision to continue down, or keep going up to the top of the bluffs. After humming and hawing for a few minutes we realized that it was unlikely that we would ever do this hike again in the near future, and we were already (what we thought was) halfway there. And so we continued. 
At this point the trail definitely became difficult. Trails were narrow paths on the sides of steep drops, loose gravel and rocks, climbing up gravel and dirtslides using roots, grass, trees, shrubs and the occassional solid rock to get footing as we climbed the never ending hill. In the end we ended up at the top of the bluffs seen in the background of the following picture (not the first set of bluffs, but the ones in the background).
(in the foreground/centre is the hoodoos, see how small they are? There's a picture later on showing how big they are)

It was very challenging getting to the top. Every once in a while a rock would come loose and start tumbling down the side of the hill, and it would fall, and fall, and fall, and fall. The only thing that kept me going at points was the fact that there was a sixty year old lady on the trail a few hundred yards behind me, and I was determined to not let her beat me to the top.

The top was pretty magnificent. It was a beautiful, sunny, windy day. The perfect day for our hike really, the sun was out and the breeze kept us cool.

 (please ignore the crazy wind-swept hair of awesomeness)

(That is Kamloops in the background)

And then it was time to go down.
And here is where the adventure begins.
First of all, we had to climb down all the treacherous-deathly-slopes that we had climbed up half an hour before. We pretty much surfed down gravel slides. As we were going down we kept joking that a fall only counted if our butt actually touched the ground, if we landed on our heels or hands first, it didn't count as a fall. I lost track of how many times I slipped and fell or almost-fell. It was funny and we laughed a lot throughout this process.
The problem came when we reached the mountain mid-point where we had originally stopped. There was a fork in the trail - go back the way we had came, or take the other route that also led to the bottom. We opted for a different way down. It was a much more difficult way down than the way we had taken up. Lots of gullies, and rocks, and boulders and sand. And that was when we were officially ON the trail.
Then we somehow were kinda on the trail, kinda not on the trail. Mostly we were making our own way down the slopes or through an almost dry creek bed. Boulders, rocks, gravel, sand, bushes. It was not plesant, doable, but definitely not the trail system we were supposed to be on. I wasn't worried though because I could see the truck and knew we were going the right way, we were near water, we had lots of daylight left, it was all good, sucky travelling, but no worries.
So we are hiking down through this dry creek bed and we come to a fairly steep 15 foot drop water-fall area that we had to climb down. Like I said, the water is mostly dried up, and the waterfall has step-like rocks going down it. It's steep, but with the right footing Bethany shimmied across it and down the side. My turn. I did OK, for about 3 feet. Then the rocks disintigrated and I fell the rest of the way down. See, hoodoos are deceptively not made of rock. They are made of hard-packed rock-like sand. And beause it is still spring, the water they absorbed over the winter, combined with the recent rains we have had, made them quite a bit weaker than they would be in the summer after being baked in Kamloops desert heat all day every day.
So anyways, I fell down the waterfall into the bottom of the ravine/creek bed. It was terrifying. As I was falling the only thing I was screaming in my head was, "don't break a bone, don't break a bone. Kamloops Search and Rescue better have HAWT volunteers this year to come save me!" When I finally hit the bottom, I litterally laid there, in the water, and asked myself if I was still alive. When I realized I was still alive, I checked to see if I was broken anywhere. Luckily, I was not broken, sore and ripped up, definitely, but not broken. I think yesterday was the only day I was actually happy with the fact that I am not super skinny and still have a booty. It took the brunt of that fall.
Anyways, I did not break anything, but there is not a doubt in my mind that if I had broken something we would have had to call Search and Rescue. We were in such a remote ravine. And then on the radio tomorrow we would have been the "two inexperienced hikers took on more than they could chew at Cinnamon Ridge" that the radio would have made fun of and an example of.

Yeah, get out of that with a broken leg or arm.
We kept going down the creek bed after I stopped shaking, and I almost cried when our creekbed turned into a legit waterfall that was impossible to get over. And so we hiked back up. Which was good, because then we found a trail and were able to get down with no more problems.

I have mixed feelings about yesterday. On the one hand, I was super proud that we hiked up and down that entire thing - and mostly without the help of a trail system, but on the other hand, it was pretty sucky. Do I need to do it again? Probably not. :)


Sunday, April 07, 2013

"You do know they are h.core right?"

Every once in a while a few random strangers end up sleeping on my couch. I love it! It's usually people we hear about through the church who need a place to stay for a few days, sometimes it is friends of friends who need a place to crash. My sisters and I have an unspoken pact that our door is always open to whoever need it so long as they have a good reference.

Last year Bethany spent a few months backpacking through Thailand and Cambodia. Our guests this weekend were people she had connected with through that trip.

As we were sitting around on Friday afternoon talking and chatting I learned that our guests had brought their bikes with them, being the generous, outgoing host that I am, I excitedly exclaimed that I would LOVE to go biking with them on Saturday morning. Everyone laughed and was happy. As was I, until 4 seconds later when Bethany asked, "you do know that they are h.core downhill mountain bikers right?"

I didn't.

But I had already committed.

So the next morning we loaded up the bikes and drove to Kamloops Bike Ranch where my new (and incredibly patient) friends taught me how to downhill mountain bike.

Rule 1. Don't sit down.
(So grateful this was rule one or my dreams of one day having children would be squashed)

Rule 2. Keep your weight back.
(I'm thinking this was my problem in August when I tried downhill biking and fell off my bike)

Rule 3. It is ok to go slow (or walk) down certain areas until you are comfortable.
(Thank you!)

I was excited to learn and to try this new sport. They loaned me a sweet top-of-the-line bike, and it looked awesome with my dinky little bike helmet. After unloading the bikes at the top of the mountain, learning the rules and starting down the road I started to get nervous. Especially as we picked up speed and headed toward some very steep birms (tight corners). Things were not looking good for me.  But I pushed through my fears, walked a bit, biked a bit, and made it down the mountain without crashing or dying.

Round two, I was going so incredibly h.core down a double black diamond, doing flips and jumps, and totally ripping things up, (yeah right) I got a flat tire.

And on the third time down, low and behold we realized that we had been going down blue and black runs, and that there were actually green runs available for newbies like me. Someone had smashed the signs! (hooligans). I put myself on the green run and the rest of my morning was GREAT. I'm not saying the green runs were 'easy', but I definitely only felt like I cheated death three times on the way down instead of constantly on the other runs.
The view from the top. Looking west toward Kamloops

This is part of the ranch. Notice how there are many different ridges. You do not want to end up on the wrong one or you will have a hard time getting back to where you need to be.

Finially got the hang of it! This here is right after a narrow (i.e. 1 foot wide) section of trail that ran up the side of the bluff. If you fell off the trail you fell down the side of the cliff oh... probably 200 feet into a rocky ravine. I'm pretty happy in this picture. Having tons of fun.

Remember what I said about getting on the wrong ridge? Yeah... I don't know how I got onto this one, but I did. It took some work to get back to the main trail and in-bounds area. Not as much work as 20minutes later when I REALLY got lost and had to do a big hike to get back to where I wanted to be.
All in all, it was a fantastic morning. I had a lot of fun, tried something new, laughed a lot, screamed a bit, and totally want to do it again!