Monday, June 23, 2008

The Longest Mile

I've been plugging along getting ready for Thailand. Yesterday afternoon, I faxed the authorization form to pay my course fees. This morning I got up and did a little phone & internet work. I bought my ticket to Thailand, made an appointment to get my vaccinations, ordered the recommended pre-course books, and called my bank. Actually, this is funny. I was going to call my bank to make sure I could use my ATM card in Thailand (I found out the hard way that it didn't work in England!) and to see if I could/should add my sister to my account so she could take care of bills while I was gone. But at spot-on 9am, my phone rang and it was the fraud protection department of my bank notifying me of some "unusual charges" I was like "You mean a $1,600 charge from Thailand?" and of course - that was it. So they put a note in my file that I was traveling.

After doing a few things from home I went and got some MORE passport-type pictures (these are slightly, only just slightly, better than the first ones) - this time for my Visa application. Instead of going home, I hoped on the freeway going east. I thought I'd spend some time oooohing and aaaahhing at the fabric store. But I talked myself out of that since, well there's no way for me to bring all my existing fabric to Thailand, there's no reason to torture myself looking at fabric.

ANYWAY since I was already heading east, I decided to go out to Multnomah Falls.... one of the most beautiful places in Oregon.
There are a bunch of hiking trails, but despite visiting several times, I've never hiked much farther than the bridge. There's a sign right near where this picture was taken listing the heights of the waterfalls, the top one is about 600 ft. high, and the trail is only 1 mile. Just a mile to the very top.... it seems like it should be easy. Even though I wasn't exactly prepared for it (no water, wearing flats not sneakers) I decided to give it a go. I mean, I know I'm out of shape... I'm overweight and I have a bad knee that's kept me from doing much hiking the past several years. But it's just a mile, and the day I can't hike a mile is the day I need someone to shoot me!

So I start out, and it's not good. By the time I get to the bridge - only .2 of a mile, my calves were burning... not just like working hard, but like "Good God what are you doing to me??" hurting. Nevertheless I figured I was already a fifth of the way there, and it's ONLY a mile so I kept going. Oh My Lord! That was a STEEP mile. After hiking switch-back after switch-back I finally made it to a view point with a bench. I plopped my aching legs down and rested for a bit.

Two women and a couple kids showed up a minute behind me, one woman crashed onto the bench panting and said "Whoooo! That is INTENSE!" to which her all to chipper buddy replies "You're the one who wanted to go on a hike!" For some unknown reason I figured the bench was at the half-way point... but that was clearly not the case. I kept hiking and hiking, legs burning and resting every 10 yards or so. I know it's not possible, but it felt like it was a constant 45 degree angle. What I couldn't believe were the people coming back down - old ladies, moms carrying babies, and even a few couples with strollers! My only comfort was the people who passed me on the way up who seemed to be in as much agony as I was. One dad talking to his kids said "Man - who made this hill so tall?" and a couple of frat boys (beer in hand mind you) complained about the steepness too. It would have been amusing had I not been in physical pain and emotional turmoil. I let a few F-bombs drop at one point when I thought it was about to level off but around the corner it just went up up up some more. I wanted to turn back, I was sure that no matter how great the view it wouldn't be worth it. I mean, I already had a great view of the Columbia and had seen as many moss-covered trees, chipmunks, and ferns as I could stand. But I kept going... I simple could not wimp out on such a 'short' walk. I didn't check the time before I left, but I'm sure it took me an hour to walk that mile up.

When I got to the top, it was really beautiful. I sat on a rock right near the water and washed my face - the water was so icy and clear. But really all I felt was relief that the rest of the way was (mostly) all downhill. And my mood going down was dramatically better. Not only was going down much faster and less painful. But I had the joy of seeing other folks painfully slogging their way up. A couple of people asked me how much farther it was, and the first one was better than half-way there, so I tried to give her a little encouragement. "If I can make it - you can make it!" But there was one family towards the bottom - they hadn't even gotten to the bench yet- I advised to just stop at the bench view point for their picnic and call it good. Because seriously - it may just be a mile to the top, but that was the longest dang mile I've ever walked!


Bezzie said...

Cool hike. Please tell me the trail wasn't paved though right? I've seen so many "nature" trails down here that are paved. Cracks me up.

Stacey said...

You are my hero. I've never made it up to the top and I've gone a half a dozen times. I love it there, it's so pretty!

Rebel said...

Bezzie - I won't tell you. ;) There are a TON of unpaved trails in the area, but this particular one is the big tourist draw.

Stacey - I'm glad I wasn't the only one who'd gone a bunch of times without trying it.

Missamite said...

Heh, I thought that one was a wimpy paved trail too, until I tried it. That one kicks my butt every time too. My favorite hike has you going up one waterfall over (Wakena) across the ridge and down Multmomah. Above Multnomah, where the is a real trail is, some of the most beautiful scenery I have ever seen. It is just the getting there that hurts.

gl. said...

it's beautiful but tough! when i first walked it, it was my first date with my partner sven, and he said it was okay if we stopped every 10 feet, if necessary. (and it was!) the next time i brought an ultra-fit family with walking poles and they sped up the mountain, so sven & i took a little side trail instead. so i totally thought i was a wimp until i brought my stepmother and a friend -- they're certainly no slouches, but they needed to stop at every switchback, too. i'm looking forward to going again this year!