Sunday, February 14, 2010

It wasn't Luap's fault*

*So he says. Since the trail was Werdna's idea, and since Werdna (obviously, not his real name, as are any of the others that follow, mostly) ending up not showing up, he became the one that was blamed. But Coach Luap took his share of heat too.

It all started with an email that contained a choice between an "easy" walk or an "easier" walk. Naturally (and thankfully), "easier" won (this is a taper walk before a race, in this case, the Bay Breeze Half Marathon next Saturday, so "easier" is a wise choice). By the halfway point most of us were wondering how hard the "easy" walk must have been if this was the "easier" walk. Yak ordered Laup an updated copy of Webster's Dictionary from Amazon so that he might choose more accurate adjectives in the future.

Like "treacherous."

Yesterday's walk was at Joseph D. Grant County Park, outside of San Jose on Mt Hamilton Road, one of the windiest roads ever devised by a sane person (it's just a guess that the person was sane though).

I will start with the obligatory porta-pottie picture, although this one is a real bathroom with flush toilets and blow dryers for your hands.

We could clearly hear the mating calls of wild turkeys, and Eve (arrgh - my name-coding nemesis) spotted them up on a ridge. That thing you see in the very center of this picture (assuming you have a good imagination) is the tail of one of these turkeys.

Notice all the happy, smiling faces. Little did they know that Uidualc and Luap were busy plotting a mud- and hill-infested route through the hills.

The first danger sign at the trail head: the sign on the gate says the trail is closed to horses and bikes. The thing is, we haven't had any significant rain for about a week now, so we figured it couldn't be all that bad out there. Besides, horse riders are wimps, right? (Sorry Htebazile - a horse-riding coworker.)

We came up on the Three Little Pigs who scurried off when they saw us. There are a lot of wild pigs in this park, and you could see evidence of their destruction everywhere in the form of randomly uprooted dirt and grass. No sign of the Big Bad Wolf though.

One of many stretches of muddy trail we encountered. We have had so much rain that even when it stops, the hills continue oozing water that keeps parts of the trail very moist. (I will be posting a lot of mud pictures, mostly to appease those that were the most irritated by the mud and want to make sure it is taken into account next time Luap is looking for a proper adjective for the walk.)

Here is the first creek crossing we faced. This one could be navigated reasonably easily by stepping on well-placed (but slippery) rocks.

Which naturally led to another muddy section of trail. Often you could avoid the mud by walking around it, but in some cases, the easiest thing to do was just to walk through it (and be surprised when it turned out to be deeper and muckier than expected).

The second creek crossing. This one was more difficult - too wide and deep to risk jumping. Unless you are Uidualc - you can see his legs in the brush - and are wearing proper hiking boots. In the above picture, Mrs Notthat is patiently waiting for Uidualc, who is an actual bridge engineer (I'm not making that up!) to build a bridge.

Which he built out of a largish tree branch. Here him and Luap try to rearrange it a bit, possibly adding a carpool lane, while waiting for Eve and Yak to work their way down a 30 foot embankment.

Yak crosses while Uidualc waits to collect the toll.

Mrs Notthat is again pointing out to Coach Luap that mud and a stunning number of hills do not an "easier" trail make.

The cows didn't help the trail any (and they were worried about what horses would do?). This is the last mud picture. I promise.

These cows took offense at that previous remark. I took offense at their talent for leaving huge piles of dung on the trail.

A rare picture of me. Note the shorts - it was actually very pleasant out. Note the hat - there's no accounting for good taste. Sorry.

Finally we made it to the long-promised scenic overlook. Mrs Notthat found that the most scenic thing was the picnic table and how it could help her aching back. The sign says that the elevation is 2,457 feet, but the route we took to get there probably had us climb more like 6,000 feet.

The scenic view.

All of us at the picnic table. Uidualc has his sandwich hanging from his mouth - while the rest of us bring trail mix, peanut butter pretzels, Sports Beans and such to snack on along the way, Uidualc brings a couple of large sandwiches. He is my hero.

Everybody cracked up when Coach Luap said there were no more hills to climb. None of us believed him, but he was right and the rest was all downhill (which for some of us can be more painful than uphill).

For me and Uidualc, it was a fun walk. It was supposed to be 8 miles but ended up at 8.96 miles (Mrs Notthat and Eve did a bit of wandering around in the parking lot to get to 9 miles even; and they think I'm competitive).

The plan had been for this to be a class C walk, suitable for toddlers and others wanting a nice morning stroll. I would call it a mean B - the hills were mostly not all that steep, but they were relentless in parts. The mud was no big deal, but some will have a different opinion.

Next week will be hill- and mud-free at that Bay Breeze thing. But it won't be medal-free.

That's it - move along...


mrs. Notthat said...

It really was beautiful, just a little too much mud and not being prepared made it kind of icky. Not into wet socks and shoes, sorry you guys!

homey said...

Day 2 of hearing about how tough this was, and mea culpa for taking you all on such a tough walk.

6000' feet would not even be achieved if we were walking the worst place that I have been, Henry Coe where I did 5800' over 22 miles.

Being muddy is something that we really have to assume this time of year.

I will work to find some trails that are just above Sawyer Camp level.


notthatlucas said...

But 6,000 feet is such a nice round number. I was surprised by the mud, but you are right - it shouldn't have been surprising (speaking as one of the few that didn't mind it, but was happy to make a big deal of it in the post). said...

Keep in mind that you are physically able to do this. I miss all of you and the trails and hope to be physically able to join you. Remember this, pain is temporary but quitting is forever.
Curt ( I forgot my real name)