Once again, I embarked upon an adventure that was truly out of my league. In my naïve hope that I would find some kindred hiking spirits, I signed up to hike Victoria Peak, a ridge that overlooks Pincher Creek. The leader suggested that I should be ok coming, as a 70 year old was going to join us. Surely, I thought to myself, I will be ok.
I knew I was in trouble when I met everyone in the parking lot. I was the only female, and the 70 year old belonged to a senior’s hiking club (ages from 70 – 85) who frequently participate in mountain scrambles (scree slopes). Nevertheless, I held out a faint glimmer of hope that I wasn’t in over my head. I gamely jumped in for the ride.
The first section involved biking a few kilometers on a gravel road – uphill and into the strong west winds known to plague this area. If I had brought my own vehicle, I would have turned back. I was done by the end of the first kilometre! By the way, the others were avid bikers / hikers , and average age was well under 50.
When we finally hike the start of the flat trail,,I was exhausted. But much to my delight, I did ok on this section of the trail. My bike was meant for it. Furthermore, when we hit the flatter walking trail, I also did ok. But then, within the next half hour, the s#&^% hit the fan, so to speak. The next four hours I spent mostly bush-wacking uphill, and taking 8 – 10 steps, taking deep breathers, and moving on. As we neared the top, a fellow laggard and I decided we had had enough. I knew I couldn’t make it to the top – if I wanted to have enough energy left to make it back down safely. My legs were already turned to jelly 5 times over. So we waited and waited and waited. I kept hoping I would regain enough energy to struggle back down. Finally we tallied forth. By then I had lost my hat to the wind, a now permanent artifact waiting to be discovered sometime in the future by another hapless hiker.
Going down was even worse. I had forgotten how much gravity and I despised each other. Gravity is NOT my friend when trying to stumble my way down a scree slope.
When I actually fell head over heels going down a small section, I knew I was a danger to others. I had planned to join the group for a 3 day backpacking hike, but I realized I needed to drop out. First of all, I was a danger to myself, More importantly, I realized that if I hurt myself, the whole group would suffer. So, when I returned home, I quickly phoned my friend to tell her I was cancelling out.
Anyway – the uphill hike took 4.5 hours, the downhill 2. I did fine riding back – and quickly and easily biked back with the others. 5 days later I am still stiff, and have a few scrapes and bruises to show for my efforts. I still can’t believe I actually made it up and down that peak, despite my struggles. But I learned that I need to be more aware of my limits.
More to come later…