I like a long bicycle ride while on vacation, but I’m slow to embrace hiking.
For starters, you just can’t cover as much ground. On a bicycle, I can ride at a leisurely 10 miles per hour and soak up a lot of scenery. At best, I can only cover three miles per hour hiking. Two miles is more realistic; one mile or less if it’s rough or steep terrain. Hiking places such as Louisiana’s Mt. Driskill is about all I’m good for.
But if I want to vacation with my twentysomething daughters, I must be a good sport and lace up the hiking boots, fill the water bottles and forge ahead.
It usually goes somewhat like a recent trip to Sedona, Arizona, where we tackled the Cathedral Rock Trail, only a one-mile trail labeled “moderate.”
The first few steps were easy enough, but then it was more scrambling up steep red rocks and then trying to keep my balance on slick sandstone spots where the well-worn Brooks Ravenna running shoes I was wearing didn’t provide enough traction.
I bailed out. Actually Hubby gave up 30 yards before I did. Daughter Mary Grace went on to the top, and I remained at my stopping point for 45 minutes or so until she came back down. I could see Hubby just a little bit below but didn’t want to risk sliding down to join him.
What a sight we were.
At one point, I took a small rock and started rubbing it on the soles of my shoes to roughen them up—my own version of Castaway as Millennials, some even wearing flip flops, passed me on the way up.
I’m sure the mountaintop view was spectacular, but it wasn’t bad from my vantage point.
Any time my daughter suggests hiking a trail I suspect to be strenuous, I head to the internet to research how strenuous it is. We were in Sedona partly because I had nixed a trip up popular Camelback Mountain near where we were staying in Phoenix.
—108 degrees in Phoenix the day before
–winds of 20-30 mph with occasional gusts of 50 possible for that day
–at least 13 species of rattlesnakes emerging from hibernation
–parking lots often congested as early as 6:15 am, and most importantly
–7 fall or heat-related deaths on Camelback Mountain in two years, more than the knife-edge cliff of Angel’s Landing in Utah’s Zion National Park.
Call me Debbie Downer, but that’s enough for me to pause and ponder my limitations.
I got out of hiking Angel’s Landing two years ago, because there was a steady rain the day we were there. Last fall, I was a good sport and agreed to the Shi Shi Trail leading to the rugged Pacific coast on Washington’s Olympic Peninsula. I even was willing to grab a rope and scale down a 200-foot bluff to get to the beach at the end. However, after slogging through this muddy trail for 90 minutes, I demanded we call it quits before we got to the beach.
I have concluded I can best experience places such as the Appalachian and Pacific Crest Trails watching other people like Reese Witherspoon (Wild) and Robert Redford (A Walk in the Woods) tackle the challenge.
At the movies.