Saturday, April 3, 2010

Nobody said it was easy to get to Holy City

This is the last official weekend of the San Jose Stay Fit winter program, so Coach Luap (not his real name) decided to make it count. This meant it would be our longest walk (billed as 20 miles, it turned out to be much closer to 21 miles) and would have some hills to deal with.

He chose to walk from Los Gatos High School to Holy City, which is a not much of a city anymore, although it had a lively (if not remotely flattering) past. That this is Easter Weekend is only a coincidence.

It was cold at the start. It was still cold at this point, about 1.5 miles out, but we were starting to warm up and Nna and Mrs Notthat started removing layers. The weather was cool and dry the whole day, making it a good day to walk. Coach Luap probably gets some credit for this - it rained on Friday and is supposed to rain tomorrow.

The obligatory porta-pottie picture, with Coach Werdna exercising extreme bladder control. (Actually, extreme goofiness.)

A nice view of the lake that also shows a rowing team working up a sweat.

Our first banana slug (kind of) is spotted! Mrs Notthat, who REALLY hates slugs and snails, nobly moved this one from the trail to the safety of the grass. (Note that she moved it back the way it had come, not forward towards its destination.)

We also saw several of these lizards/salamanders. Mrs Notthat tried to herd them off the trail, but they seemed happy with where they were.

This was the most treacherous of the creek crossings we had to deal with. It was wet out, but not very muddy. Actually, most of this walk was on pavement. To make things a bit more challenging, Coach Luap threw in a 4.5 mile detour that was all hill. Slightly frightening was that it was a different approach to the killer trail we had walked last weekend.

Here is the whole group (minus me). From left to right, Coach Werdna, Coach Luap, Uidualc (sporting a Tour de France hat that he brought along to wear only for these sorts of pictures), Mrs Notthat, Nna, and Evae.

This is the sign pointing to the most difficult 1.5 miles I have ever walked. At this point, we turned and headed down the Priest Rock trail.

Getting ready to head back down the trail. Note that Mrs Notthat and Nna have both removed another layer.

Hey! I made it into a picture! Note the gloves I am wearing - I only took them off for brief periods. Yes - I was taunted for this.

On the way down the trail, there were traffic cones bizarrely placed. I suspect it was a prank by the highway repair people.

This is a picture for Coach Truc, who was off leading the short distance walkers at a different park. He is always after us to stop and notice the beauty around us. Coach Truc is an extremely wise man. (I sneezed for twenty minutes after smelling these though.)

Mrs Notthat and Coach Luap rescuing yet another banana slug from the trail. (There were a fair number of mountain bikers on the trail - very slow going up but very enthusiastic coming down, and extremely unlikely to notice a banana slug on the trail, or walker, for that matter.)

Finally we were off the trail and back on pavement. Nna celebrates this. (I much prefer trails, but by this point was content with anything that didn't involve long uphill climbs. The hill we had been on was not a killer hill, more like a maiming hill. We were a little over 7 miles into our 21 mile walk.)

Coach Werdna found a horseshoe! Loyal readers will remember that Uidualc also found a horseshoe several weeks ago. Werdna could not wait to catch up to Uidualc and point out that his had more nails in it.

Uidualc was duly impressed (and caught not wearing his fancy hat).

This is all of us at the halfway point (note Uidualc's hat).

I would so much like to live on a street with a name like Ogallala Warpath.

A real banana slug. I couldn't talk anyone into kissing it (which is supposed to be good for you or something, although I've never seen the people saying this actually kiss one).

Finally we made it to Holy City, which now consists of this one glass shop. We now turned around and retraced our steps (minus the detour to Priest Rock), which meant we had 8.5 miles to go.

With 3.5 miles left to go, Uidualc and Mrs Notthat took advantage of a porta-pottie break to stretch out a bit.

And finally the finish line.

Coach Werdna stretching his back. This was a long walk - for most of us, the longest one of the year. (This is the third time I walked more than 20 miles, with the other two last year, but this is the first time Mrs Notthat has. Werdna had walked the Phoenix Rock and Roll marathon earlier in the year.)

Both Evae and Mrs Notthat had some foot issues, and Uidualc risked drinking some dodgy water, but other than that, we came out of this pretty good. The intent of this walk was to prepare us for our long distance events coming up - several are walking the Big Sur event while others are walking the Avenue of the Giants event. We all now start tapering a bit. Even though the season is officially over, most of us will continue getting together for these walks (next weekend we are shooting for Wunderlich Park outside of Woodside).

The Blog would like to officially thank the coaches, Luap, Werdna, and Truc, who worked so hard setting up these weekly walks. Their dedication, energy, and enthusiasm was exactly what we needed. This winter was a blast with not only a ton of memories, but a group of people that are all in much better shape than at the start. (OK, I'm tearing up a bit. I'll just say goodbye now.)

That's it - move along...


mary ann said...

Wow, I'm impressed. That must have taken the entire day. Good job! I need to know more about the walking sticks.

Evae said...

Great job on the blog! If I can walk without a limp, I'll see you guys next weekend! :)

kintolP said...

You might suggest to the group that you start walking now to get to Dodger Stadium by the August series with the Giants. You guys could probably do it walking backwards.

notthatlucas said...

MAS: I have not drunk the walking stick Kool-Aid yet, but many have and swear by them when walking hills or mud or crossing streams. Among other things, they can reduce the weight on your knees by having your arms do some work. (Of course this makes your arms tired, but spreading the pain is a good thing. I guess.)

An interesting anecdote: when I was working that aid station with all the ultra-marathoners, I was told that one of the guys in his last race had set a course record, but came in second to a guy that went even faster by using walking sticks. There was a bit of debate about whether that was legal, and it was decided they were fine. This will no doubt add to their coolness. (We see very few people with them at the Brazen trail events, but many people mention that they wished they had a pair once they get onto the trail. If you are a runner, they are really not cool looking. Like using a walker.)