About a month ago, Monty lured me into going on my very first hike — he said that it would be an easy, short hike, and we would get to see Mount Baker (a volcano). I mean, surely it couldn’t be too bad, right? People post pictures of that stuff all the time on social media. So, I agreed and began preparing.
The first thing that I had to do was get some hiking boots. Oh, my soul . . . they’re so ugly that it hurts. I tried to cancel out their ugliness with some cute socks – didn’t work. Next on the list was to exercise. I didn’t want to not be able to make it up the mountain. In hindsight, I should have focused much more on this.
The day of the hike arrived, and we were ready to go! I had my basic hiking gear on – hiking boots, wool socks, 2 pairs of leggings, a t-shirt, and a flannel. This was the kind of outfit that I believed regular hikers could sniff out as something only an amateur would wear. It was about an hour and a half drive from our house, and it was easy to tell when we were getting close because the road was . . . well, nonexistent.
There were lots of hikers there that day, probably because of the weather – sunny and 68º. We finally found a place to park and began suiting up. Monty put on the backpack with our snacks, first aide supplies, and water; I put on a water pouch.
20 steps after leaving the car, we saw three girls with HUGE backpacks, helmets, what appeared to be cleats, and big walking sticks. They looked at me and my little water pouch strapped to my back with judgey eyes.
Off we went! 5 minutes in, and I knew I was in trouble. Monty had assured me that there wasn’t much of an altitude change, but all we were doing was going up, up, up! My legs already felt quivery. He told me that we could go back to the car if I wanted to, but I knew that was a trick. If we went back to the car, I would have to hear about that for the rest of my life, over and over again.
We kept walking, taking breaks every so often. I could tell that Monty was tired of taking so many breaks, because his eyes screamed “GOOD GRIEF, COME ON!!!” even though he never admitted it (until afterwards). About halfway through we were up high enough to start seeing some pretty scenery – water falls, mountains, and our first glimpse of Mount Baker. It was beautiful! I was hoping that this would be enough to make my second wind kick in, but it wasn’t; it hurt the whole way up the mountain.
We hiked on as the trail became narrower and a little less defined. I became thankful for my ugly boots when we had to cross two streams by jumping from rock to rock and trying to stay upright. We bear crawled our way to the very top because the ground was too rocky and steep to walk normally. And then finally, we made it! — A moment that I thought we would never get to. It was breathtaking and as much as I hated to admit it, worth the trek up the mountain.
The descent required no breaks; I enjoyed it much more. We hopped back in car and went to a pizza place we had passed earlier that day. You could do a lot there – drink beer, eat pizza, tour the beer museum, and get married!
Our hike: Heliotrope Ridge
- Location: North Cascades – Mount Baker Area
- Length – 5.5 miles, roundtrip
- Elevation – Gain: 1400 ft; highest point: 5100 ft