Often, I hear someone say that they don’t mind the downhill part of a climb so much; it’s the uphill that gets them. I admit, the uphill is hard on the cardio side, but I find it’s the down part of a climb that really hits me where it hurts (i.e. the knees). A slow, controlled descent just gets my muscles wobbling.
The long-term solution, of course, is to build up the muscles in my legs. In the short term, though, there are times when other solutions are possible.
For example, hiking the mountain backward.
(There’s an image, right?)
On our Acadia trip in July (see previous posts here and here), we started at the scenic overlook (and convenient parking lot) at the top of Cadillac Mountain. From there, the trail led down a ridge of Cadillac Mtn into the saddle between Cadillac and Dorr, then up the middle of that saddle to a nearly-vertical climb back to the summit. The vertical was the best part. What can I say, I like climbing on things.
I wasn’t sure my theory of backward would work, but in practice I found it remarkably effective. The very steep downhill was much easier while my legs were fresh.
Since most of our hike was over bare granite, the way was marked with blue paint blazes on the stone itself, and by traditional cairns like these. The little houses main ‘straight ahead’.
This week, I’ve been reading another blogger’s posts (here and here here) on camping in downeast Maine with a nostalgia bordering on jealousy. (I suggest you read the rest of her blog, too, it’s the first one I check every day.) To be sure, her tent wasn’t nestled into the shadow of a fifteenth-century castle. But she captures a scene so familiar I can’t help being a bit homesick. Green Coleman stove older than I am, clothesline strung between two evergreens, glimpses of a nylon tent through the young spruces… It looks, in short, the way camping is supposed to look. The way it looks in my head. Early memories die hard. In this case, I can only be thankful.
After wallowing in her pictures for a while, I was thankful that I had been up in Acadia only a month ago, which stopped me from feeling quite so homesick. In fact, I had pictures of my own to wallow in.
A while back, I reported, exhausted, a route map for a hiking trip in Acadia National Park. For the casual hike we planned, it turned out to be epic terrain. Also an epic failure to check the topo map before the hike. A good time, though.
The map doesn’t quite convey the sheer amount of rock we clambered down… and up… and up again…
So I brought you these pictures instead.
The exuberant beginnings.
Here, my lovely baby sister displays what the “trail” looks like. I didn’t expect the Brook Trail to be an actual brook, but I can’t fault the Park Service for truth in advertising.
Three hours later, after 1330 feet of bedrock descent and 900 feet of clambering. Again, that is the actual trail they’re standing on. If it looks like solid granite, there’s a reason for that.
NTS: still going strong. The sun is setting on our side of the valley, but it’s still bright on the side of Dorr Mountain.
A sardonic salute.
Daddy: Did we seriously just climb down that rock face and then up again?
If we rigged a pulley to the top of the mountain…
This is what I did today. (Link leads to a topo map of Acadia’s Cadillac and Dorr Mountains with hiking route and altitudes.)
It was hard.
Obviously, I’m working very hard to bring you new content for the blog. A.k.a. visiting with my family in my annual trip home.
There will be pictures. Cross my heart. But now it’s time for bed.
Saturday was sunny, so NTS and I hopped the bus for the Pentlands once again. I didn’t have any particular plan in mind. Mostly, we just wandered. First we were passed by cars and cycles on a track that led past a long reservoir between hills.
The cars found their rest at the Clubbiedean fishery, but we had miles to go before we slept, and meandered on down a dusty lane between sheep fields bordered by dry stone fences. To the north, the Forth rail bridge bounded redly over the blue Firth. It really is the loveliest of the Forth bridges. Fields turned to farmhouses, and dust to asphalt, and it looked like we might have to contemplate a premature return to society.
Happily, no such fate befell us. We branched off again into that most delightful bastion of the British countryside, the country lane, drowsing in the sun. There we took our tea (the other great bastion of the British, country or otherwise).
It was at the end of this lane that we reached a crossroads (cross-lanes?) of trails, with a signpost I had seen before. Should we go on to Balerno, or circle back to Bonaly? With a hearty and heartless belief in building up one’s endurance, we circled.
It was a large circle.
Happily, the days are long, so there was never any question of being caught out after dark. By the time night fell, we were tucked up in the pub, consuming a well-earned beer and late dinner.
Just a quick hike.
While we were out, we scoped out a few possible sites for camping.
Scotland allows you to camp nearly anywhere you would want to (not in people’s backyards), so long as you’re not in the way and you leave no trace. We’re still working our way up to this. I’ve never camped without a car or a canoe before, except at SCA events. But I’m determined we will soon.
BRID Maybe we should try bivy sacks instead of a tent. People say that you feel closer to nature that way, not in a smaller version of a building.
NTS I don’t see how that’s a recommendation.
BRID Oh, well. It probably doesn’t work so well for two people. You know what they call a two-person bivy. b
BRID A tent.
I finished a year’s worth of research paper a few weeks ago. The day after I submitted, I was damned if I could sit down and concentrate on anything like work. So I didn’t.
I went hiking.
I’m always telling Mumsy Dearest that it’s fine to hike alone, but I seldom take my own advice. Mostly because I do try to work on work days like the rest of the world, if not always at the same hours. And on weekends I can usually drag NTS along. I feel guilty leaving him at home while I go play in the woods. (Although I did, last weekend.)
So I packed up the most important of my 10 things, just to feel super safe, and left.
Well, when I say left, I mean ‘lost interest for a while and then got going in the afternoon’, but eventually, I left.
This is heather.
It was very hazy, but also sunny. Scotland.
Beware: hiking may cause death.
STAR BATTLE SHOOTING AND ANTI-AIRCRAFT RANGE
PERSON PROCEEDING BEYOND THIS BOARD WHEN 2 RED FLAGS ARE FLYING BY DAY OR 2 RED LIGHTS SHOWING BY NIGHT… IS IN DANGER
Sunset on a reservoir.
Last weekend, we finally realized a long-held ambition: to explore the Firth of Forth, which we often traverse by train but seldom see at close range. The train bridge is a very long way up in the air.
To get to the island, you cross a causeway. The causeway is submerged for about six hours between tides, and every now and again people get trapped out there and have to be “rescued” by the coast guard. (I was surprised the coast guard bothers. But I suppose leaving people on a small island for six hours would not really be considered a nice thing to do, even if they did bring it on themselves.) We, of course, were needlessly cautious and were well off the causeway before the tide came in. Of course, I did go back on the causeway to meet the incoming tide, but that’s another matter entirely.
The second and third Forth Bridges.
Yes, I see you.
I got to paddle in the ocean for the first time in a long while. The bit near the shore was less muddy than I feared, being quite sandy. I gave up on the idea of going past my knees when I suddenly sank in too far and remembered that this was, after all, a mud flat. Although it had nothing on the mud flats on the Cape, where we sank to our knees in places.
The mussels blew up small streams of sand to clear their air holes.
Possibly my favorite encomium of all time:
BRID Ooh, ooh! I’ve got 101 followers!*
NTS They’re like dalmations!
BRID Spotty? I suppose that makes sense, given my posting habits this week.
NTS They’d make a nice coat.
I don’t think I’m the weird one in this conversation any more. I’ll just be over here if you need me.
* A big thank-you to everyone who’s shown their enjoyment/support by following my blog! It does me old heart good to know my words aren’t passing unread into the vast, inky darkness of the interwebs. Have some pictures of Scotland.
o O o
For Easter, I made a delicious dinner (on Friday, but we enjoyed the leftovers on Easter). On Saturday–prompted partly by the sun and largely by Mumsy asking what we were doing for Easter–we went hiking in the Pentlands.
All pictures of sheep are hereby dedicated to Mama K, in memory of the fifteen minutes around Ben Nevis, in which we stalked the sheep for pictures in our dark rental car like the wool paparazzi.
Alien terrain, don’t you think? Somehow it always recalls the alien planets in Calvin & Hobbes, especially when it isn’t so green.