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Above It All? My Hike at Thunder Mountain

My post today isn't about the trail so much as it is about a few revelations that I had while on the trail. For factual information, the Thunder Mountain trail head is located up highway 88 in Amador County (El Dorado National Forest), just before you hit Kirkwood ski resort (technically between the Carson Spur and Silver Lake). The starting elevation is 7960' and the high point is 9408'. Our route was an out and back to the top, clocked on my IPhone at just about 7.1 miles. The trail is listed as both a moderate and strenuous hike. (Ha! Ha!)

Yesterday I enjoyed a lovely hike, high up in the Sierras at Thunder Mountain. The weather was perfect, clear and warm,with variable and cool winds. It was a small group, just the four of us: me, my hiking buddy, and my two constant companions, Fear and Doubt. Fear and Doubt travel with me everywhere; they are never far from my side. They like to tell me that I can't take a hike at 9100' +, that I can't possibly climb over …
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A Hike and a Helping Hand

Yesterday was a very blessed kind of day. My hiking buddies and I enjoyed a wonderful outing up at the Carson Pass area. We hiked from the Information Station to Duck Lake (shown above), on to Lake Winnemucca and then on to Round Top Lake. The weather was perfect and the views were beautiful. Things were pretty perfect.
On the return portion of our hike, however, we encountered a problem. Nearly a mile from completing the hike, we came upon four hikers. One of the hikers was in distress, draped over a rock, and suffering from a probable combination of dehydration, heat stress, some level of altitude sickness and insufficient food intake. She was responsive but not talking. The group asked us for water. Thanks to one of the ladies in my group, we had plenty of extra water to offer. We did what we could to make the hiker comfortable and stayed with the group until help arrived. Search and Rescue arrived first, assessing the situation, and then the paramedics showed up to finish things an…

Get Outside!: A Perscription for Hiking and How Far is Too Far?

This past week I went on a lovely hike up highway 88, near the Carson Pass area of California. There is still plenty of snow though much of it has melted. People are hiking, boating, kayaking, and generally enjoying the cooler weather afforded by the higher altitudes. I had a wonderful time with my hiking buddies walking up and down hills, checking out wildflowers and being rewarded at the top of the ridge with a view all the way to Lake Tahoe! At the end of the day, I was tired, happy to get home, a little keyed up but very peaceful.

It was a coincidence then that the next day I happened upon this article in a magazine. The premise of the idea sounds very familiar! Have you heard of the term ecopsychology? I hadn't either but the idea of it is probably familiar for many people even though they may not know about the formal field of study. Ecopsychology studies the relationships between humans and the natural world using both principles of psychology and ecology. The idea is to reu…

Can I get a Cuppa?

This last week I was on the hunt for some decaffeinated coffee. Easier said than done, apparently. For many years now we have bought our coffee at Costco. I haven't even looked at the coffee aisle in a regular grocery store in a very long time. Because of this, I have missed some important trends in the coffee industry. In a nutshell, a consumer's choices are now endless. Looking at all of the tiny little packages was nearly stupefying. I felt under equipped to choose, given my lowly BA degree. A person needs some kind of PhD in Coffeeology to even figure out what is what. 

I got home from the store and wondered what the hell had happened. I did a little research and turns out it's those damn Millennials again. In an article by Forbes here and another miscellaneous article here it's easy to see why there are so many choices at the grocery store. Nearly gone are the larger cans of basic coffee. Replacing them are these smaller 12 oz bags of highly specialized coffee: gro…

Out of The Mouths of Babes...

It's always a struggle for me to get enough fruits and vegetables. I sneak them in where I can (muffins, smoothies, veggie spreads on toast) but I still feel like I could do better. The other day I was in the health food store, sort of just standing in the aisle staring into space. All of a sudden I refocused and realized that I was looking at the baby foods.  Oh, to be a baby again! What a beautiful assortment of packaging! I started looking at and reading the labels of these little pouches of organic fruit and vegetable mixes. It all looked so good. And healthy. Most brands had no added sodium or sugar-just fruits and vegetables. It dawned on me that these would be great snacks. Most are under 100 calories and are loaded with things like potassium, vitamin A and C, and even iron. I pictured sucking one of these down while hiking or as a pick me up in the afternoon before dinner. The thought of doing this was a little embarrassing at first but then I figured, why not?

About a week…

Basic Moves/Big Results! (I hope anyway!)

Most mornings of the week I can be found at our local lake, taking a walk. Walking has long been my preferred form of exercise. Nothing else I have tried (hiking being an exception), has stuck. Putting one foot in front of the other and moving steadily along for about 45 minutes to an hour generally has a calming effect on my mind. My body feels better for it most of the time too. So, win-win.

I mentioned hiking. It's an activity that I have come to enjoy. It's kind of odd given that it taxes my body in a way that normally I wouldn't agree to. There is just something about hiking though that I find rewarding. It is basically just walking but your body is asked to do a lot more than when you are strolling along on flat and smooth ground. Different motor skills are required. Balance is really important for one thing. Trails are frequently uneven and wearing a pack can throw you off balance. There can be a lot of walking up steep hills and occasionally, walking up and over roc…

Why I Have Many Backpacks Yet Only Have One Back!

What is it with me and backpacks? The one pictured in the photo above is now a few months old and came from Gossamer Gear. I purchased it during a Labor Day sale. Did I need another pack? No! My main pack is an Osprey Skimmer 30, also purchased last year during a sale. Both packs are what is termed a "daypack" and they each serve different purposes for me. (In the interest of full disclosure, I also own a smaller hydration pack, an 18 liter child's pack from REI and three backpack "purses" from Dakine.)  In my quest for the perfect pack, I have often felt like Cinderalla with a mild case of OCD!

Why all of the packs then? I think the reason has to do with a question that came up for me recently after a few discussions I had with other members of my hiking group. When I am trying to sort something out, I tend to ask other people questions so that I can maybe find an answer myself. Though I was initially wondering about my own love of backpacks, I started out aski…