Saturday, January 1, 2011

Day 79 - Highs and Lows

 Today was as bi-polar as it could get.  From the highest of highs to the lowest of lows, I experienced the full spectrum of emotion.

I didn't have to work today, but I was still up and out of bed bright and early.  Once the gear was packed, we set out to climb Mt. Si.  Having never truly hiked in the snow before, I was unsure of what to expect.  This was going to be my first taste of what is to come on Mt. Rainier where I will spend 4 days hiking, sleeping and living in the snow.

It is only four miles to the top of Mt. Si, but the journey took several hours.  I felt like I did fairly well, but it certainly was not easy.  A few of the steeper inclines left me panting for air while my heart beat out of my chest.  On more than one occasion, I was ready to call it quits and bid all mountains without chairlifts farewell.  For example, my pride took a serious hit when we were passed by a woman who appeared to be in her early 70's.

Although the climb was strenuous and a significant cardiovascular challenge, we took several rest breaks and I was able to quickly recover.  That said, I think I will need to incorporate more sprints into my runs so I can continue to get comfortable with spiking my heart rate to work maximum capacity, slowing it down and then doing it again.  Fun, huh?!

I learned two other important lessons at the top of the mountain.  First, never leave your food unattended.  We brought chicken soup that my dad made that morning and I set mine down for just a moment to switch jackets.  In the brief moment it took to unzip, a bird splashed down into my soup and made off with a piece of chicken.  Ummmm.... Gross!!!  I wasn't willing to continue eating what I then dubbed "bird soup" until my dad first took a bite.  He didn't immediately perish, so I took a few more bites.  Just thinking about it now triggers my gag reflex.  Lesson learned.  From now own, my meals will be bird free (unless I'm intentionally eating chicken...).

The second important lesson I learned at the top was that I absolutely cannot allow my hands to get cold.  I went from laughing and enjoying my meal and the scenery to angry and irritable in a matter of minutes as my hands were exposed to the cold air.  They got so painfully cold that all I could thinking of was getting off the f'ing hillside and into my warm car.  SOOOOO not the attitude I need to survive a 4 day climb.  When I'm climbing Rainier, I'll be sure to plan out everything I'll need to do with my bare hands in advance so that I can perform the tasks as swiftly as possible.

The climb to the top was physically demanding, but it was the descent that required me total mental focus.  I slipped and slid the entire way down through the snow.  Exposed rocks and tree roots proved to be pesky obstacles that twice landed me on my backside.  The next time I attempt a similar feat, I will be sure to invest in crampons so I have some degree of traction.  I eventually gave up trying to fight gravity and just jogged down the path.  My knees ached by the time I reached the bottom.

Despite the pain, I felt tremendously proud for making it to the top and surviving to tell the tale.  I've got a long way to go with my training, but I'm glad to have a better idea of where I stand.

After the hike, my good friend Hooligan allowed me to shower and primp at her place before we headed off to Seattle for an engagement party.  Our friends Carin and Ryan are tying the not in September and it was fun to celebrate with all of their families and friends.  The party was at a swanky restaurant in Seattle called the Black Bottle and I swear one of the servers was Brian Austin Green.  I totally felt like I was hanging at the Peach Pit and that Brenda and Kelly should be walking through the front doors at any moment.

On my way out of the restaurant, I noticed a man standing on the other side of my car.  Then I noticed a gaping hole in my window and shattered glass all over the ground.  I try to avoid profanity (because it drives my mother insane and I love her oh so much), but my first thought was "you've got to be fucking kidding me."

Assuming the jerk who smashed my window was still lurking nearby, I quickly called the police and went back into the restaurant to get someone to escort me to my car.  It turns out that the shadowy man I saw was not the perpetrator, but rather the parking lot attendant busy writing tickets to those who had failed to pay the $8 fee.  Anyone could see from the street that my car had been broken in to, but did this prick who obviously got close enough to my car to make sure I had paid up bother to report the crime?  Of course not!  Apparently it is against company policy to be a decent human being.

The vandal made off with my law school back pack which ordinarily would contain hundreds of dollars in text books and my laptop.  Fortunately today it only contained my bathroom essentials.  Still, the loss stung and the thought of someone touching my belongings left my infuriated.  I no longer have glasses and only have the pair of contacts that I am currently wearing.  Replacing these items will not be cheap.  I also lost an expensive straightener that had been a gift from my mom, my bare minerals makeup, and many other items that you don't realize are missing until you need them (deodorant, razor, sonicare toothbrush, etc.).  It was clearly a smash and grab job, because the thief missed my brand new and ridiculously expensive climbing jacket and gloves.

I doubt they read this blog, but I'd like to send HUGE 'thank yous' to Carin's dad, brother and fiance who helped me sort out the mess and get my car in operating order and to Carin and the others who helped keep me calm and stayed by my side.  I'd like to say my night improved, but I had no such luck.  Some unfortunate family drama left me exhausted and emotionally drained.  After the evening's series of events, I am eager to leave 2010 behind and move on to a brighter and better year in 2011.

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