After reading about the Fish River Hike
I got the urge to go hiking. The problem is, I'm really not able to hike very much these days- after all, I have more screws in my anatomy than many compact cars! Ok, maybe I exaggerate, but with two screws in one ankle and eight more (plus a metal plate) in the other, let's just say that I'm no longer built for excessive walking on rough terrain.
So, since it seemed like such a bad idea, we headed out bright and early this morning planning to hike a trail that leads to the summit of a small mountain- or maybe it's a large hill, I don't know. And, frankly, I don't care if my topological jargon is correct- for someone with my mobility issues it might as well be Kilimanjaro.
Unfortunately there are no parking lots near the start of the trail so I had to park a little ways away- not far for the average person, but far enough for me! For those wondering what gear I have with me, that's a Benchmade River knife clipped to my Maxpedition Sitka, my trusty Tilley AirFlo hat and Pebble Time watch. Not pictured is the MTO edition Leatherman Surge and my trusty yellow scaled Victorinox Compact. Water was carried in two 1L Brita Sport Bottles.
After what seemed like a lengthy walk that I was way overdressed for (through a neighborhood!
) we arrived at the beginning of the Summit Trail. The trail went up very sharply from the get go.
I was new to the use of trekking poles and I only decided to bring one with me to see what I thought, as I thought they would be more of a pain than they were worth when I wanted my hands free for things, but I decided early on that they were well worth their weight, and next time I'm bringing both!
We weren't very far down the trail when we started getting the sneaking suspicion that maybe we'd gone too far already... but as we didn't hear any banjos and the trail was extremely well marked, we decided to risk the wrath of Satan and the allegedly sexist police.
Luckily the trail was well marked so we could concentrate on footing in a number of places. It may not look that difficult, but it was quite a climb, and the trail was not that smooth. Megan lead the way and suggested the best routes and warned me of dangers that she figured I might have trouble with. Moments after the above photo was taken we spotted four deer in the woods off to the right, but I was unable to capture anything on camera.
The terrain ranged from small rocks in dirt/mud to very large rocks that remind me a lot of Blind River, the town my father's family is from. It makes sense, as this area would also likely have been covered by the giant glaciers known as the Canadian Shield as well, and I remarked a few times that the place would be extremely fascinating to any geologists or geographers.
As we got closer and closer to the summit the view started to get nicer and nicer, and my lack of mobility became less and less of hassle as we both enjoyed slowing down and looking around. We didn't actually know where the summit was, but we figured we must be getting close.
We were right- the summit wasn't far, and we enjoyed the view for several minutes while we re hydrated, something we very much needed despite trying to drink regularly on the way up. We would be taking a different path down than we took to get up and, like the one coming up, we had no idea how passable it would be. Megan assumed going down would be worse than coming up, and having had numerous surgeries from various encounters with gravity in the past, I was not in any position to argue.
The trail indeed dropped very sharply, which makes sense, as we were roughly (according to my GPS tracking app) a mere 165m (540 feet) higher than our starting point. The distance of this hike may not have been as great as some, but the elevation change was very drastic! My tracker app also says that with all of the ups and downs we took, overall we climbed over 1km high!
I decided to get a little brave and forego my trekking pole for a bit, but that didn't last very long. In fact, not only was I very interested in getting it back out again, I was wishing I had brought the other one as well.
Some of the rocks we encountered were pretty cool- I have lots of photos of some of the cool rock formations and piles that we saw, but I decided not to waste everyone's time with pictures of moss covered rocks. Mostly. This one is different because I had some fun with it.
I wanted Megan to get below me as I posed, clinging to the rock. I figured if she got low enough it would look like I was climbing it, which is something I used to enjoy doing but can't really even consider doing these days.
The image is far from convincing, but she refused to get a lower angle because it made my butt look big. Silly me, I thought it was the cheeseburgers that made my butt look big....
Playing aside, the descent continued, with some of the trail being quite manageable, and some being quite challenging, even for Megan, who has cat like reflexes and mountain goat-like agility. There were a few spots that were very awkward for both of us.
But, we continued on as the trail wound down and around until we finally made it back out to where we came in and I lumbered through town to get to where we had parked. By this time I was not walking as gracefully or quickly as I had when we started- quite honestly I was in a fair bit of discomfort, so when I realized that we had parked next to this gorgeous section of the Gatineau River I decided to just walk right into the water, hoping the cool current would help reduce some of the swelling in my ankles.
Then Megan decided that we required some medication, so we headed off to the local pub for a pint and some nachos, both of which were just what the doctor ordered!
All in all we had a great time. There were some moments where my discomfort became real issues, but in the end I am glad we went. I had a great time and I hope to continue to try to keep pushing my boundaries, although to be honest, I do feel a little pathetic by how much effort I had to put into this adventure. But hey, as old and broken as I may be, I'm not going to let a little thing like massive pain keep me from doing the things I want to do!
I hope you enjoyed my photos and adventure!