Sunday, April 17, 2016

Spring Vacacay Outing #1: Chirico Trail

For those of you just tuning in, Spring Vacacay is fully underway at this point.  We're actually preparing for Summer Vacacay with the boys, when we'll be taking on Oregon!  For now, however, we're near Seattle, exploring the day trails and other scenery for a few more days.


Patriotic trailhead!
Today's outing was a short-ish one: Chirico Trail, up to Poo Poo Point.  Just in case you didn't click the link, it's short-ish because it's a 3.8 mile trip up the hill and back.  We decided to start with this one since neither of us has hiked seriously since Spring Vacacay last year in Utah.  We figured we would warm up with this and then move on to Snoqualmie Falls in the afternoon.  Once again, my arrogance wrecked all of our plans...

First things first: the hike itself was great and we are very glad we did it.  We would do it again, taking the longer path to the top next time.  With that said, I'll proceed with a tale of woe.  Eh, that sounds too pedestrian... how about a tale of dolor?  Yes, it's a real word.  Look it up!

This ain't even hard!
We got there relatively early, but the trail was already crowded.  It turns out that was a good thing, because it meant that we had an extra excuse to go slowly.  As mentioned, the hike is 3.8 miles -- that means 1.9 miles up, and another 1.9 miles down.  In the first 1.9 miles, the elevation gained is about 1760 feet.  The main issue with that is that we're from Texas.  Texas, as a rule, doesn't have elevation gains like that.  Our neighborhood, where we did almost all our training for this, is a 0.9 mile loop.  Tanya and I had been doing that loop twice at lunch four or five times a week for the past couple of months, but the elevation gain is about 50 feet.  There's a world of difference, unfortunately.  We soon learned that lesson.

Most of the hike up is actually shaded, which was a good thing.  It started off pretty chilly, but before long it was pleasantly cool.  Everything smells deliciously earthen on a shaded trail.  Apparently I'm one of those weirdos that like the smell of pine, pollen, and decomposing layers of leafy mulch.

Sipping water, or blowing bubbles?
Tanya took the lead most of the way.  This is actually a departure from our normal hiking order, as I have trouble hearing her talk to me when I'm behind her.  I always attributed this to my declining hearing, but I think it might have just as much to do with the windy conditions under which we usually walk/hike in Texas.  I didn't have much trouble hearing her at all (not that we were talking a lot -- gotta make oxygen decisions sometimes).

The climb up was hard.  I'm not ashamed to say it.  I've already said that I was ill-prepared (living in one of the flattest states in the nation), and climbing the equivalent of about 3000 stair steps was more work than I'm accustomed to.  Still, we made it, and hopefully our legs will get used to the strain a little.  Our other hiking outings will be at least this hard.

On the plus side, all of the gear worked out wonderfully.  The trail shoes I had were delightful, only slipping twice (neither time being their fault).  The backpacks are more compact than our normal ones, but they have much better designed storage.  I didn't feel like I had to leave anything behind because of space.  We switched to hydration packs insteads of carrying bottles around with us.  Not having to manage those was really convenient.  The pants, shirt, and hat were all relics from last year, and worked just as well in the woods as they did on the rocky hikes in Utah.

Learn to aim, or take a panorama!

The payoff of the hike, as mentioned earlier, was worth it.  What you see here is the meadow before the point, which looks out on one side of the valley (toward Mount Rainier).  This was a cool spot to take a short break in, which we did.  Snacks were consumed, but we didn't tarry.  Off the the point we went!

So view!  Very nature!
This is Poo Poo Point, looking back toward Lake Sammamish.  They actually have a hang-gliding launch here, although no one was out today.  Lots of people were camped out here, so we made our way back to the meadow for lunch, then jaunted back down the the hill.  The trip down was much faster than the trip up, but was still challenging.  Shake leg occurred.  Oddly enough, the strain in my legs is mostly thigh-based, but for Tanya it was in the calves.  I'm going to assume that's because I'm taller, instead of trying to figure it out.  #TallGuysMatter

Lessons Learned

  • Everyone in this area hikes on the weekends, and I think all of them wind up on this trail at some point.  Hike it during the week if you want more solitude.
  • Take your poles, even if you don't think you'll use them.  Carrying them around via backpack loops is easy, and you never know when they'll come in handy.
  • Add sodium/electrolyte tablets to your water to help avoid cramping muscles.
  • Tanya doesn't like snakes (we saw 2) almost as much as she doesn't like spiders (we saw 0, but if we had it would've meant disaster).
  • Take two sips every time you only think you need a single sip.  You packed those two or three liters of water for a reason.  Make it worth the effort!  I only drank 0.5 liters in an almost 4 mile hike -- not nearly enough.
  • Claritin D is a must for me.  Even with it, I still sneezed a little.  Nature assaults my olfactory senses, and my nose fights back with vicious (and sometimes viscous) sternutations. (Another real word -- keep your dictionary handy!)
  • Robert Frost is good to read in the meadow.  I read "Birches" and "A Time to Talk" there.
Stay tuned for more exciting outings from Spring Vacacay!

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