Tuesday, March 3, 2015


It is tradition now; a sunrise hike to the top of one of the hill overlooking CMC College. Last time I was joined by a merry (or not so merry if you are a late rising British companion) band of compatriots as we trekked up College Hill. Breakfast and hazy views of the surrounding region greeted us at the top. This time I was joined by a solitary spirit with a desire for adventure. We met at my house and blazed a trail to the base of Toad Hill. We had no path to follow, but assumed that we would eventually find a path if we just kept going. Toad Hill is significantly steeper and less well-traveled than College Hill, making for a hearty physical challenge. We eventually found a path marked with sporadic white arrows painted on the ground or adjacent rocks.

Now I’m from the PNW, a place of plenty hiking trails, and from a family (or at least a raised by a father) who enjoys outdoor adventure; hiking included. I’m not a stranger to a good hike. However, most of the hikes in the PNW are blazed by folks who firmly believe in switchbacks to ease the challenging grade and make the trek to the top more manageable. I used to hate the switchbacks. I would always think that walking back and forth was so tedious and that a straight shot to the top would be so much quicker. I know better now.

The trailblazers of Toad Hill must have also found switchbacks to be tedious. That ruthless trail was unrelenting in its accent to the ridge. I don’t think the humidity and heat helped raise the enjoyment factor any, but finally summiting that beastly hill brought a feeling of triumph and accomplishment. At the top we enjoyed the views and a cool morning breeze before starting our descent.

As it turns out, the decent was much worse than the ascent. Part of me wished I could climb back to the top and just live there. Someone would deliver me tea and biscuits, right? At the point in which we met the trailhead, we again turned to blazing our own trail, this time with much less success and much more bramble to scramble through… and monkeys. I still get a kick out of seeing monkeys on the trekking adventures. Our trek ended at the local pool, and the cool water never felt so refreshing.

The lessons learned:
  1. Sometimes the tedious parts of life are there for a reason… to make things more manageable.
  2. Preserving through a difficult challenge will often result in a “mountain top” feeling of accomplishment. Keep on. 

The view to the northwest from about a third of the way up. The double hill in the left mid-ground is College Hill. 

The view to the east from the top.

View to the northeast from the top.

A shot on the descent-- to the northwest. 

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