Archive for the Day Hiking Category

Fat Girls Climb, Too: Mt. Whitney MR-MT Loop, 15 Oct 2014

Posted in Day Hiking on November 8, 2014 by moosetracksca

The blood moon crept west above Thor Peak as I turned the first corner of the main trail above the Portal. The edge glowed white as it emerged from the shadow, bathing the trail in a wan light at first. All was quiet, save for the trickle of water in Carillon Creek; the seeps maintained their frocks of greenery despite the draught. I knew better than to look at my watch, buried under a few light layers and gloves. The reminders rang out: slow and steady; slow and steady.

All the footsteps and holds in the north fork remained the same since my last journey eighteen months before. The easy scramble between the boulders; the open-sesame tree lying prostrate from the windstorm of three years ago; the washout on the far side of the creek; the endless short and steep switchers climbing the south wall of the canyon. I had never seen the waterfall below the ledges so dry: a mere drip against the rock, the logs dry and smooth instead of greasy-slick. From the first ledge, a glow in the crease at the top of the canyon stopped me. The moon, hidden from sight, had placed a beacon at the outlet.

Something about the stretch between the ledges and Lower Boy Scout Lake always turned my stomach, and that morning was no exception. By now the crest of the Inyos warmed, grey broadened to rose. The smell of the water and plants was acrid. Sweat dripped from my hat. But I didn’t stop much. It felt so familiar and friendly to walk up the dirt; to reach the flats around the meadow, which housed a shrinking puddle of algae-rich water. No one was camped in the trees, and I marched on.

The headwall. I can’t really pass by there now without seeing Len falling. Even though he’s fine, it all turned out OK, I performed well and did right by him and my partners that day: I can see the snow and ice, watch him grab for his pack and tumble. I watched now as a party of four picked their way across the top to the big boulders at the corner. There were smiles all around. “Where did you go?” “How was the chute?” “You came up the ledges in the dark?” “How far are you going?” “As far as I can or want to.”

The slabs were afire in the sunrise, reflected the glow in the thin sheen of water trailing across the rock, falling to the Valley. I stepped into the sun just below the break rock by the creek, water-diamonds danced and sparkled as they chased each other. I pulled deeply on my water bottle, coughed when the cold hit my throat. The willows warmed, deep red and gold, and the falls from Thor Lake crackled and shook a few shards of the night’s frost to the meadows. A breeze tickled the sweat on the back of my neck, sent shivers through me as a reminder to not linger long.

I drifted back to my first ascent of this drainage: spring; sloppy snow; how every rise looked so tall and long; how I fought upward, desperately tried to keep up, terrified of being left behind. Now, my footsteps were sure in the sand, the views familiar. I knew precisely when to lift my head to view the sweeping face of Whitney and the Needles; when to aim high on the traverse to scramble up near the waterfall; when to watch for ice just under the sand and scree; when to brush the ledge of loose rock so my foot would stick after mantling. All the while, the Mountains watched.

Lunch rock at Iceberg Lake. I finally succumbed to a glance at my watch, and somehow I knew I was right on time. The flat surface was plenty large to lay out wet shirt and shell, puff my pack under my head, and lie back, wrapped in my warm hat, down puffy, and gloves. I had a project to complete here, and now, well above 12,000ft, I was forced to finally confront my deepest shame.

I had to get in the lake. I had to be in what amounted to a two-piece suit. I had to be on camera; had to convince others to love their bodies and perform breast checks; had to try and help friends raise money for a cause.

There was just one problem: in no way did I believe I could do it.

I don’t love my body that much.

In fact, I hate it most of the time.

I am stuck in an eternal loop of memory from 2010, when I was in the shape of my life; when I looked in the mirror with pride at what I had done for myself.

And how I let it all go.

Now, there is no looking the mirror, god forbid when I’m naked or out of the shower.

But the conflict raged on inside me: Look where you are, Laura! Your body brought you here! It didn’t complain!

The Mountains stared down at me in silence as the battle forged on.

When Tony and Saya finally made their way above the lip, I knew it was time. And so I did what I always do: gathered my gear, took a deep breath, and strode to the lake. “This is not comfortable for me, at all,” I whispered to Saya, as I handed Tony the camera. “Don’t worry,” she whispered back. “You are among friends.”

I looked to them both, then to Whitney, the Needles, Muir, McAdie, Irvine, Lone Pine, Thor, Carillon, and Russell. The wind died, the water still; as if this grand cirque held its breath.

Tony started filming, and I took off my jacket.

The water gave me a boost of energy for the fun climb out of the lake basin. The chute’s middle section was as loose and steep as I remembered, but most of the bigger rocks held. I remembered the sequence to enter the Final 400 with ease, but Tony gave me a nice spot anyway when I asked. Having tried all variations, I went with a little of everything on the climb: left, center, and right to exit. The Hut was exactly where I left it. I made sure to get pictures of Saya, on her first ascent of the Mountaineer’s Route, as she topped out.

It felt so good to be home.

We didn’t linger long on the summit, as a grey wall was creeping around the Kaweahs, showering the Great Western Divide to the northwest. The sky dogs growled in the distance. The rumble rolled deep into the Kern Canyon, spilled up again onto the slabs through Crabtree and Guitar Lake. Flurries danced on the breeze and landed lightly on our eyelashes and noses. The climb back up to Trail Crest was as hard as I remembered. The switchers to Trail Camp were endless.

I led my friends to Consultation Lake, descended the slabs to Trailside Meadow. Even in the fading light of an October afternoon, each stride was clockwork, regular. When we hit the trail, my stride opened even further. There was a strength that I have felt often, as if my legs knew they were headed to the end of the day. I only finally clicked on my headlamp at Outpost Camp so I wouldn’t scare anyone.

In the soft duff below Lone Pine Lake, each step raised a small cloud. I paused only a moment at the North Fork turnoff, enough to acknowledge the closure of the day’s path.

In the moonlight, the Mountains glowed: tall, strong, proud.

When I looked up from the Valley that night, I made them, and myself, a promise.

I will try to see myself that way, too.

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We are Women of the Mountains: Patricia Peak 7-20-14

Posted in Day Hiking on July 20, 2014 by moosetracksca

We are women of the mountains, she and I.

I tread worn paths; pack weighs heavy across broad shoulders.
My head bobs, gaze shifts to step and check my route.
I track the wind-breaths across the lake,
Its dance and rush upslope pulls the sweat from my chin and hair,
Lifts my arms in embrace and play.

I sit beside the creek, watch it swirl around boulders,
Green hairs of algae awash and waving in the current.
I stand atop the ridge and summit, looking down, looking back.
Trace my history to the horizon.
Plot my slow advance along a future road.

She rides the clouds, pushes hard as they erupt away from heated hills.
She showers sparks as she carves her turns,
Her joyful roar rumbles and echoes across basins.
Her laughter: the playful shower of rain on green meadows.
Her flushed cheeks: the glow of sunset.

She runs the streambeds, splashes diamonds along the shoreline.
Twirls as she leaps the lakes and races the breeze.
She only pauses atop the peaks and ridges,
To feel the sun beckon her higher, sends the wind to carry her home,
And she soars once more.

We are women of the mountains, she and I.

I miss her.

But she is everywhere.

 

Pat was killed in a fall during the Sierra Challenge last August.

Pat was killed in a fall during the Sierra Challenge last August.

Under (no) Pressure: Fourth Recess Lake

Posted in Alpine Skating, Day Hiking with tags , , , on December 6, 2013 by moosetracksca

Framed against the grey sky, the northeast face of Bear Creek Spire cradled the gloaming. The guys had already pulled ahead, driving hard to Mono Pass while I settled into a comfortable swing of legs and breath, loaded down for the day. Around the corner, the Ruby Wall traded shadow for its morning burst of gold. Bill waited at the cutoff to Ruby Lake, offered a shorter day and fresh legs for the skating. I glanced up the south face of Mt. Starr, spotted John and Steve striding up the switchers, and the fire of challenging myself roared to life. With a wave to Bill, I turned and leaned into the packed down snow covering the trail.

It was hardly a chase: more like I harbored an insane notion that I might see the guys again on the trail into the Fourth Recess. Instead, their single set of tracks cut a line through the snowdrifts; an occasional tread outlined in the sand or across a flat boulder; wound down the face to Trail Lake and into the trees. Tucked against the north face, the trail became a trench in soft powder, with more than a few crystals wiggling down into my boots to chill my toes. With each step down, there rose knowledge that the climb out would be brutal, but I did not fear the work.

At last, the trees opened into the cirque, and I spotted them gliding along the western shore. My call echoed off the granite walls, and John skated up, big camera poised as I smiled and waved. They shared the beta on thickness around the lake, how somehow their standing in one spot had set the whole plate to split into hundreds of cracks at once. They skated anxious circles by the shore as I dug into my pack for dry socks and heavy skates, and I was left once again to catch them up on the far side of the lake.

The sound of the skates gliding on the ice has a grind to it, bumping and jumping across feathers of new crystals. Snapping and popping, small cracks spread from under my steps as I leaned my weight into the fronts of my skates. John found a patch of kryptonite: the ice glowed green in the shadow behind the rocks at the lake’s edge. Bubble trails stretched through the ice, some pock-marked the surface to add texture. Fuzzy boulders lurked in the depths.

In the middle of the lake, the old plate had absorbed the snow from last week’s storm, melted, and broke apart. Black, fresh ice canals wound around the broken white sheets, at once angular and then winding. The guys took to balancing on the frozen fractures, racing off to the far corner. I stumbled a bit on the white ice, my body chattered as I pushed across. John got a shot of me tentatively gliding along, arms out front, but a tremendous smile across my face.

I didn’t bother racing them to either end: I only wanted to feel the glide, the air on my face, the sun reflecting off the ice and rock. Steve reassured me at every crack under my skates; John grabbed my elbow to do-si-do as fast as we could. I laughed and cheered, then listened to the echo.

The climb out beckoned, and I knew how I would be forced into a slow march to get back up and over the Pass. The guys headed out for a final lap as I packed, and I whooped to let them know I was off. “Patience,” I kept repeating, as I kick-stepped in our trench in 50-step increments. I still got frustrated, the old anger at myself kicked in to try and berate my lack of speed. But then I looked up and across the Recesses to Bear Paw Peak, at the deep green of the forest, the golden trunks of the snags, the blue of the sky. I breathed deep, took another 50 steps. I knew where I was going, and what it was going to take to get there.

I topped out on the ridge a half-mile shy of the pass and accidentally dropped my pole. In disgust, I turned and crouched to lift it from the snow, but my eyes caught on the flame and fire of sunset reflected on Pointless Peak and the wisps of clouds in the sky to the north. I brought my poles together, cocked my hip to one side to shift the load on my back. But that was all my shoulders carried in that moment: no expectations, no pressures, no desires from myself, or others. There was just the quiet of the high country as the mountains and I watched the sun blaze through the last moments of the day.

Venus sparkled brightly above the Crest, and lit my way home.

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Getting Schooled on University Peak

Posted in Day Hiking on May 2, 2012 by moosetracksca

The big male hopped up the branches of the pine tree, hiding in the sun as his puffed and swelled with each call to his harem scattered in the Manzanita. His tail fanned wide as he eluded our cameras, and we finally shrugged and turned up the Onion Valley trail, his thwump echoing behind us. Snowshoes tucked under the topper of my pack looked a bit ridiculous against the bare ground over which we hiked, but the upper, north-facing slopes on the ridges above Gilbert Lake held just enough snow to make things, well, interesting. As Bob Huey tanked up below Flower Lake, I took three steps up to my knees, punching through the crust, and I threw my pack down in mock disgust. The crampons on the rails bit into the steep slope as we traversed the ridge to Bench Lake.

The sun shone warmly against the light crust, a few sweeps of new snow from the most recent storm huddled in the shade of golden snags. We laughed at our good fortune, once again, with the amazing weather and warmth of the early spring season. Hell, early spring: we never did have a winter. The terrain abruptly changed at Bench Lake, where colors became limited to a chosen few: the white of the snow; the grey granite; brownish sand and scree; an azure sky. Above us towered the great north face of University Peak, its cliff bands on high dark and foreboding. But along the solid edge of Bench Lake, we skipped and stepped our way lightly, smiling in the sun and soaking in the grand arena.

At the base of the chute, we paused upon a great nap boulder to change into crampons and rack the snowshoes. I chomped down a Gu and string cheese, a handful of trail mix as I grinned stupidly at the snow above us. There is just something about this sort of work that makes me dumb with happiness. Huey crossed the snowfield as I threw my gear back in my pack and slowly, solidly, we began picking our way up the mountain.

There is a rhythm to walking in crampons, a little extra swing at the front end of my step to set the points. A gentle lean forward lifts the boot out from behind me, freeing it to be lifted up and forward into the steep slope. I try to keep the weight in my feet, not in the pole or axe, my back staying tall. I struggle, however, with the rest step. I don’t know if it’s excitement, drive, or a deep-seeded desire to move swiftly up the face, but even when following Bob’s perfect cadence, I would find myself moving faster and faster, then having to stop and catch my breath.

But, oh: the chance to turn and gaze across the broadening skyline as we crept up the chute. The slashes of the Kearsarge Pass trail outlined with a touch of snow against the golden sands; Dragon Peak’s blackened, crumbling rock; the stripes on the peaklet between Gould and Rixford; snow filling the Kearsarge Lakes and the bowl on the east face of Mt. Bago; the dark trees lining Bubbs Creek; the Palisades pale and just a trace darker blue in distant haze; and the clouds low in the Central Valley beyond the mountains. I felt the same love and joy last fall from my perch on the opposite wall below the summit of Gould, 5 weeks after my knee surgery. I was home in these heights!

Bob and I topped into the rocky reaches beneath the summit ridge, and, still in our crampons, carefully stepped and scrambled our way to the sand. Third class ledges and fins stacked neatly above us; occasional dykes and cracks reached skyward through the slabs. Nervously, I stepped into the crack system Bob had ascended, searched for an undercling and an opposing outward pull, jamming my boots into the granite. Half way up, hyperventilating from fear, I forced myself to stop and just stand on my feet. “Breathe, Molnar. Dammit, BREATHE.” I yelled at myself, feeling the weight of rope, axe, crampons, snowshoes, trekking poles, and other assorted gear in my pack. I pieced together the final moves, declining Bob’s outstretched hand for fear of pulling him off if I lost my balance.

At long last, the ridge, broken and soft, was within reach, the pinnacle to our right looking sketchy with snow and ice packed between the boulders through which we might scramble. I gave the conditions a hard look: it’s always a bit disappointing to be turned around so close and after so much work, but today was not the day to stand on the summit. Instead, Bob and I shot a few pictures into Center Basin and to Forester Pass, and ate lunch above the steep snowfield between us, and the notch to descend to Robinson Lake.

We had the rope and a few pieces of gear, so we opted to practice some traversing, placing gear, and setting anchors for the climb across the snow to the notch. I led out, the bowline on a coil around my waist as I kicked into the soft snow. On the other side, I found a solid pinch between two boulders which served as another sling anchor, and I worked the rope through the Munter hitch to belay Bob across. It would be our last smiles for some time that afternoon.

The snow slope plunged to the cirque beneath University Pass, but the snow was rotten and crusted. While postholing is a sad hobby of mine, to dive unexpectedly against a rock face and pitch forward into snow through which my axe cut like butter was less than comforting. Grudgingly, I turned into the slope and started the long haul downclimbing the chute. Bob and I both sank repeatedly to our hips, and would be forced to swim and crawl to the surface, only to sink yet again. In agony, we reached the sand of the lower slopes, and looked back up at our track while shaking our heads.

With one final drop to Robinson Lake on the snowshoes, we were at last on trail again, winding amongst the willows and searching for cairns below the moraines of Independence Peak. Even Bob had stopped chatting for a while as we both focused soundly on the beer back at the car. With a final few steps down the switchers, through the aspen, and across the logs, we emerged into the Onion Valley campground.

Our smiles belied the hardship of the past few hours, and we clinked bottles to celebrate yet another grand adventure, the sun shining far across the Valley as we cruised down the winding road.

After a great party with the SCMA folks on Saturday night, I stretched my legs up to Lone Pine Lake with my friend Miguel on Sunday, then plunked down on the patio of The Store for my first burger of the year.

Yup, it’s good to be home.

From the luckiest girl in the world:

Climb Hard, Be Safe.

-L

Throwing the gauntlet.

Posted in Day Hiking on April 17, 2012 by moosetracksca

Mt. Tom is a magnificent pile of sand, talus, splintering pines, grabbing mahogany, stabbing ceanothus, disintegrating granite, and other ridiculous falderal.

And that’s about as close as I get to insulting a mountain.

After all, any natural conditions can be met with good physical conditioning and preparation; difficulties overcome with planning, thought, and down-and-dirty-put-your-head-down-and-grunt-it-out stubbornness. The first, one can only plan around storms, wait for the sun to bake and consolidate the snow, for the winds to be calm. The second, I am building, harder now and with more focus. The third, well, I have in spades.

Low snow year or not, I am a queen of postholing. Breaking through suncrust and windboard seem to top my abilities as a hiker, my feet diving for the relative safety of solid ground sometimes 3 feet down. I realized early on in my adventures that this was simply where I was to live around snow. I expect a modicum of misery in this respect when I head up and out, but even I grow weary after thousands of feet of swimming uphill.

Mt. Tom’s north ridge has proven to be my nemesis in this respect. Even an attempt at an overnight a few years ago led to failure when, in the early morning, it took me an entire hour to climb simply 200 vertical feet from my tent at 9200 feet. This past February, it took four hours to gain the last 2000 feet of my day, turning around at 10,200 feet. After a long stretch without snow, and warm sun to  aid in solidifying the snow, I opted for another go under the full April moon.

I grunted and flailed in the TOF as my alarm sounded its chime at 2230, having only just fallen asleep after watching the great orange moon rise behind Black Mountain. The sage glowed white as I piled out, grabbing my pack and tightening the laces of my boots. Nothing stirred, no eyes gazed back in the beam of my headlamp, no breeze across the desert as I started my trudge across the sandy slopes towards the trees above. The moon played hide and seek behind the craggy towers, and the nervous side of me kept my lamp lit, scouring the slopes for signs of prowling critters.  The air was surprisingly warm, and soon I had sweat clear through the buff on my head, my thin wool top and fleece jacket.

This ridge never lets up, I have found. Right out of the gate you climb with each step, often retracing steps in the sand. To look back down is to realize how steep it is, the first part of the ridge gaining almost 4000 vertical feet in a horizontal mile. I thought that, under the moonlight, my body might be tricked into settling into a rhythm, to ignore the steepness up which I strode. Too early, the first seeds of doubt crept into my thoughts, and I pushed them away with a smile and a too-cheery-for-0100-in-the-morning “You’re doing great, Laura! Keep it up!”

Winding through sage and cactus, then ducking around the first mahogany of the day, I reached the saddle at 9000 feet in 3.5 hours. A nice, steady time for me, and I took a few moments to shove snow into my water bladder, already 1/2 gone with the initial effort. I tested some of the snow drifts above, and was pleasantly surprised to find them holding my weight and steps. I entered the tree band, the yellow snags glowing in the moonlight, happily stepping upwards towards my previous high point of 10,200 feet.

Crunch.

I broke through to my knee, rolled my eyes. “Here we go,” I said to the trees. A few steps of swimming and I was safe in the next tree well, caressing the grooved wood as I caught my breath from effort. My eyes scanned the slope, looking for drier ground, but none was to be had save for crossing bands of snow. And so it went: five, six, seven steps across and wham: down into the sugar again. My poles were worthless, save for mildly broadening my arm base as I leaned forward and muddled out of my craters. At last I reached the mining cairn at 10,200 feet, and I didn’t even pause. My head nodded in recognition of the spot and then turned back to search for the next path of least resistance.

The dry patches pulled me east, away from the ridgeline proper, and then would peter out into drifts once again. In my slow zig-zag across the great face leading to 11,000ft, I would fall in deeper, and deeper. For every 30 steps on the loose rocks, 10 would be back in the snow, my fleece pants now soaked and carrying small chunks of debris and ice. In the soft grey signaling the coming sunrise, I swam back to the rocks, scrambled among the tottering boulders to finally crest at 11,000 feet. Leaning up against a cool granite block, I set up my camera and watched the full moon descend to Feather Peak, the morning’s glow warming the faces of Granite Park above the north ridge’s long shadow.

It was calm there, quiet in the morning sun, with just the lightest breeze puffing over the rocks. Ahead, a short section of boot track was all that remained of someone else’s adventure along the ridge. Exhausted from the night’s slogging, I closed my eyes for a few minutes against the light, content to be snuggled down amidst the talus and the last scrub pine. Above, the remaining two miles of ridgeline towered, and unappealing mix of rock and snow that promised nothing more than continued misery and maybe injury buried in holes near the boulders. It wasn’t too early to be calling my friends to commiserate and wish them a Happy Easter. Frustrated once again, I threw my pack back up onto my shoulders, and turned for home.

The crust on the snow was firm enough to form to my leg with each punch through, bruising my shins as momentum carried me down. Angrily, I kicked at the snow, only to sink deeper to unseen trees and holes beneath. I tried glissading between treewells, using my whole weight on the bigger surface area of my ass to break through and possibly save time. I allowed myself one final stop back down at 9000 feet, perched on the edge of the ridge and looking straight down into Pine Creek Canyon. After eating and drinking my fill, I pointed my boots back down the sandy slopes, jogging the deer trails and destroying my toes against the fronts of my shoes.

All my own signs pointed to failure, once again, and the dejection I felt was, well… me feeling sorry for myself. Oh, it’ll be there another day, another time, altered only slightly by sun and wind and snow and rockfall. My trainer devised a brutal workout later that week, which I nicknamed “Mt. Tom”. I know how to change myself to make this happen; I know how to put my head down and work to get ready. And all the while the ridge stares down on me, impassive, looming, daring.

I’ve thrown the gauntlet at myself, this time. I know what I need to do, and I know who I need to get past to do it, to regain that confidence in myself.

Bring it, bitch.

Sand Sloggin’

Posted in Day Hiking on March 13, 2012 by moosetracksca

Death Valley is best served, well, with a cooler of cold beer. So, when my good buddy Tom wanted to spend his birthday weekend out there, I loaded up the TOF with enough turkey burgers and brewskis to feed a small army. Camped at Texas Springs, we hiked up Corkscrew and drive Titus Canyon on Saturday with Tom’s wife, our friend Erin, even Jimbo and Ruth joined the foray. The uncontrollable laughter around the campfire that night was a great way to celebrate Tom’s, um… 40-something years.

After a little leg stretch above Zabriskie Point on Sunday morning, I opted for the long way home, following the mostly dirt, mostly straight road through the north end of the park to Crankshaft Junction, then turned west to cross into the Eureka Valley. Braking hard, I almost missed the turnoff to the dunes as I shook myself out of the desert daze induced by the hum of the road.

In the distance, the dunes were paintbrushed cream against the dark ribbons of rock outlined in the cliff faces beyond. A cloud of dust swept west across the ancient dry lake bed, the tents in the area straining against guy lines and snapping in the gale. I could see a few dark figures part way up the dunes, but wanted to experience them for myself. Within minutes, my legs were numb to the sting of the driven sands.

I walked on, actually surprised to be walking, not sinking, the sand firm beneath me. Ribbons of texture, perpendicular to the wind, extended upslope, and I could see the spin launching from the tops of the dunes above. On the leeward slopes, I kicked steps, searching for the bottom purchase, my legs pursuing the familiar work. I tasted sand in my mouth, grit on my lips as I leaned into the wind. I balanced on knife-edges to cross between dunes, dulling the honed blades to serrations, only to see my steps filling in and fading within minutes. Windward slopes remained more firm, the texture holding all the colors of the eastern cliffs. Above loomed the “high point”, a wave of spin pouring over the edge. On top, I was mesmerized to watch the air dance against the sand, swirling in a bowl before sweeping up and escaping above the dune.

I laughed out loud all the way down.

Corkscrew Pics:  http://www.flickr.com/photos/moosepics621/sets/72157629204667898/

Zabriskie Point/Eureka Dunes: http://www.flickr.com/photos/moosepics621/sets/72157629571475255/

From the luckiest girl in the world:
Climb Hard, Be Safe.

-L 😎

Progress

Posted in Day Hiking, Random Thoughts on February 1, 2012 by moosetracksca

I was breathing heavily, but my legs didn’t want to stop crunching uphill. There’s something smooth in finding your stride, your pace, varying easily with changes in the terrain. But one month ago, it took everything I had to throw myself up this road in the Whites, legs churning, lungs burning, stopping occasionally to catch my ragged breath. Tonight, as the sun crept behind the thin veil of clouds hovering over the Crest, I just smiled in an odd sort of wonder of the feeling that has emerged in my legs once more. At the Tower, I marched right on by, the wind from the southwest lapping at my heels, blowing a few drops of sweat into my face as I traversed to the final steep climb above. I reached the upper towers, then up to the lump just beyond to top out. I quickly dug out the GPS: 1800 vertical feet in 1 hour, 3 minutes. Next time, no stopping to blow my nose.

For the month of January: 96.78 miles walked. 31,137 vertical feet.

Penny per foot: $311.37

And that’s without any “big” days, mostly training and some walks on the weekends.

It only gets bigger from here.