On Saturday, my husband and I made a hike up Lucky Peak. Well, we didn’t hike all the way there. Ambrose didn’t want to spend the entire day making the trip, so we had a deal. I’d hike out for 2 hours, and then turn around. When I caught up with him on the way back, he would turn around and we’d meet at the car and then go home.
We’ve done this before, and I remembered trying so hard to be fast enough to reach Lucky Peak within the 2 hour limit. It’s not that far, distance-wise, being a paltry 5.5 miles out. But the elevation gain of over 2800 feet makes it a killer. I struggled to go more than 4 miles last year up the never ending steepness of Shaw Mountain Road. Mile 1 is relatively flat, and I could get it down close to a 20 minute mile, but after that I struggled to stay under 30 minutes per mile.
This year was different.
I fought a hard and cold wind for the first 2 miles, and I wanted to turn around when I completed the first in a long 22 minutes. It blew directly in my face every step, gusting occasionally and rarely allowing respite when the trail curved near to a ridge. I dug down into myself and forced every step, trying not to stop, because stopping would lead to more stopping.
I stopped once, in the 2nd mile, to blow my nose, which was dripping from the cold, the wind and the exertion. Other than that, I didn’t stop at all until I heard my alarm go off.
I pushed myself not to stop, where last year I gave myself breaks at the top of every little slope, sometimes stopping midslope on the especially hard ones. And when I started hearing split times of under 23 minutes being called out from my phone app, I was shocked, awed and driven to continue.
The sight of 3 separate groups of deer would normally make me pull my phone out to take a picture. Not this time. I would not stop.
A Facebook friend recently made an ironic comment about the license plate slogan of “Scenic Idaho.” I thought about taking pictures of the scenery around me, mountains still snow-capped in the distance, water gleaming in the distance, rolling hills giving way gracefully to mountains. But I would not stop.
When the 2 hours rang out, I had already passed the 5 mile mark. I could see the bathroom below Lucky Peak. I could see the peak itself. I was so close.
I took pictures to mark where I had made it to, and then I went on to the bathroom, because I had made it close enough to get to use an actual toilet instead of trying to find a quiet piece of trail to pee on. There was no toilet paper in the building, but I had my own. I also took the time at the bathroom to take off my windbreaker and gloves, re-tie my boots and generally take a break and dawdle.
|This is where I stopped.|
|The bathroom is less than two minutes up the road.|
The time I spent there was really just me being a good wife – the longer it took me to come back to meet Ambrose, the longer he would get to hike. More hiking is good for him.
|A little scenic Idaho.|
And even though I didn’t reach the top, I got closer than I thought possible last year. I was elated coming down. Another five minutes, maybe ten, and I can get to the top. Just a minute or two shaved off of each mile up and I can do it. All I need to do is not stop.
|Still snow up there, but not much.|