Third Time’s the Charm

As some of you may know, Lt. Dan and I attempted this hike in 2017.  Here, let me refresh your memory.  If you’re lazy, the TL;DR is that we didn’t make it, we blamed it on a time crunch, and it was hard.  Really hard.

But it’s two years later now, and I felt ready to try and tackle this mysterious mountain.  I asked Louboutini and my friend Same-O to join, and off we went.  Protip #1:  Get an EARLY start.

We arrived at the trailhead around 12:30, which was roughly 2 hours later than I had intended, but what are you going to do?  That’s right.  Nothing.  Off we went, and just as I remembered, it was pretty tough right off the bat.  A mile of elevation gain in a 4.5 mile hike is not for the faint of heart, and you do need to take it slowly.  It’s so steep that our pace was closer to 1mph, rather than our normal 3-ish.



The real challenge, however, was not what you’d expect.  The switchbacks are so intense, and so…UPWARDS that you might miss where the trail goes.  And given that the trail is (at its widest) only 2 feet across, you might just keep going straight.  Obviously I had a brain fart on the key lesson of autocross (and life):  LOOK AHEAD, WHICH IS SOMETIMES BEHIND YOU.   So the three of us trekked on what (arguably, and in our defense) looked like a trail, until it didn’t.

Using Google Maps, we sent Louboutini and his long legs to scout out where the trail might be.  He managed to figure out that we’d been traversing parallel to it for some time, and realized the trail was up the hill.  The hill of fallen trees, bramble, and just a hair away from a landslide.  So up we went.  Vertically.  Same-O isn’t tall, but he’s certainly taller than I am, so this wasn’t as difficult for him as it was for me.  I have the cuts on my legs to prove it.

The “way to the trail.”  I don’t see a trail there, do you?

Sigh.  At least we were on the trail, but alas, the treacherous journey was just beginning.  Fall #1 occurred when I was trying to give some GenZ “hikers” space to pass, and my legs had just about had it.  While I ended up more embarrassed than hurt, we were all pretty relived I stopped falling when I did, or else it would have been a long, LONG way down.  Pro tip #2: Make sure your friends are ok before you laugh.

And the trail was steep.  Really steep.  Like, if I were in the first Indiana Jones movie, there’d be no way to outrun the big rolling ball steep.  Every time you thought it might flatten out for a bit, you were wrong.  You’d be so wrong, it’s laughable.  I’m imagining you thinking you’ll have a bit of a breather, and I’m laughing at you.  But really I’m crying, because this was leg day on steroids.  The illegal ones.


While I could complain for hours about how HARD this hike was, and how TIRED we all were, and how much OUR LEGS HURT, and blah blah blah (no really, I totally can complain for hours about anything, so this would be no problem), we were definitely treated to some astounding views along the way.  Had we not had the snow-capped mountains, green water, and the majestic trees to soothe our souls, I don’t know that we’d have made it as far as we did.




After what felt like MILES (okay, it was like 2), we came to a creek crossing.  It was nice to sit and relax, and run my swelling hands in the cold water.  Some hikers were returning, and they said there was about “another mile to the look out, but it feels like a mile and a half.”  Well, that settled it for me.  We were turning back, and we were going to have to get a move on.  I was cranky, bleeding, and tired, and there was beer to be held on the way home.

I think I’m smiling because if I didn’t, I’d probably cry.  I was SORE.

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Given that the hike was six hours long (and I failed to reach the top yet again), obviously I’d have to pee at some point.  Fall #2 happened while trying to get far enough down the very steep trail to be out of eyesight.  Protip #3: DO NOT LEAVE THE TRAIL IF YOU DO NOT HAVE TO.  At least when I screamed, the guys asked if I was ok, but didn’t run down and therefore didn’t see me – because no one wants to see my bare ass covered in dirt.

After two falls, I was pretty frustrated. My knees had taken a beating, I was muddy (GROSS), dusty, sweaty, and tired.  Sure, I was defeated, but at least I was alive.  We made it back to the car, changed shoes, and toweled off.  Protip #4:  Carry cleansing towelettes with you (mine are from Costco <3).  They’re great for wiping off dirt, sweat, bug spray, sunscreen, and blood.  Or in case a bear needs to you-know-what in the woods. 

Once we were feeling a little more refreshed, we sadly left the trailhead parking lot.   Ok, maybe not sadly.  Maybe I was SO happy it was over and was THRILLED to be going to get a beer.   I was disappointed that we didn’t make it to the top, and had we started earlier/not gotten lost, we likely would have, but c’est la vie.  Same-O mentioned there were a few times he though he was going to pass out, but refused to be the reason we turned back.  Gee, thanks – now I’m the bad guy >.<  I don’t even care.  The beer was delicious and hard-earned, and my legs have never been so sore.  Eat your heart out, Stairmaster. 

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Me, limping down the bridge.  You can’t tell, but I can barely pick up my feet at this point.

So yes, another epic fail trying to conquer Sourdough Mountain.  This is the hardest hike I’ve ever done.  Harder than Heliotrope.  Harder than the ones in Arches National Park.  Two tries, and I still haven’t completed it.  Doesn’t mean I’m not going to try again, though.  This is my white whale, and I am Ahab sailing along (or limping, same thing) till I catch him.  Third time’s the charm, they say.  Someday, I tell you. Someday, I will get to the top.

And then I will have someone carry me back down.



In an unscheduled break from the Hawaii chronicles….

As the Fourth of July weekend is typically a long one, or people tend to make it a long one, I needed to do more than just eat and drink and be merry.  After hosting a party for 10 on the 4th, where neighbors set off fireworks AROUND THE CORNER FROM MY HOUSE, I figured I needed to burn off all the Americana I’d consumed:  Burgers, beers, and brats.  

Three friends joined me in my quest to explore and expend calories:  Louboutini, Robot Chicken (RC), and RedvsBlue (RB).  RC and RB are pretty active and it was their idea to go for a hike.  After some deliberation, we chose Heliotrope Ridge.  I was a little apprehensive since it was rated as Hard, which on AllTrails, actually means HARD.  But who knows, it might not be so bad….so off we went.  


It was about a 90 minute drive to the trailhead, and the last 8 miles was dirt, potholes, and a single lane.  We passed what looked like the remnants of a landslide, and decided not to linger to look at it, lest the mud giveway again and sweep us off the cliff. 

At last, we made it to the parking lot, and after suiting up (because it was COLD), we set off.  It was pretty steadily up, and I felt it in my quads immediately, but overall it wasn’t too difficult….yet.  In fact, I got this!  We’re all good!  We were talking, laughing, joking, and kept going….and we did ok for the first 2/3 of the uphill hike.  

I didn’t know Heliotrope was actually a flower.  We saw these lovely purple flowers all over the mountain, and realized they are wild all about town – we’d just never noticed.  While it will probably be a few weeks before all the wildflowers are blooming in full on the mountain, the various types of flowers we saw added splashes of color to an otherwise verdant-heavy hike.  (The spikey ones were my favorites, but yes, they hurt.)





About 2 miles in, we were greeted with a sign.  I’ve never seen one on any hike I’ve ever done in my life.  But it was pretty awesome, and thoughtful of the trails association. IMG-20190706-WA0029


Believe me.  You haven’t lived till you’ve pooped in a mountain toilet. 

While the hike said “hard” and the idea of hiking up far enough to see a glacier was daunting, we pressed on.  But it really wasn’t too bad, all things considered.  Sure, there were stream crossings (5!), and yes, there were “steps” that required me to lift my foot above the level of my hip.  But they were the obstacles that, looking back, you scoff and shrug it off.


Nope.  Not a bad hike at all.  That was until RB said, “I have some bad news.”

We’d only climbed 850 feet, and were only about a mile from the end.  “But isn’t this about 2000′ of elevation gain?”  Well, yes, yes it is, and going about 1000′ in a mile is HARD.  Really hard.  While I had led the initial parts of the hike, I now fell back to 4th, because….well, I have little legs and it was hard.  Did I mention how difficult the last mile was?  Sure Miley Cyrus, it’s about the climb, until you have to climb THAT FAR.  I went slower, slower, and even slower still, but I was suddenly inspired, and the hike gave rise to a song:

Slow and steady wins the race
As long as you don’t fall on your face

I can’t say I followed the song to the T.  There were several times I nearly faceplanted into some Game-of-Thrones-esque slate.  And yes, I was tired, sweaty, stinky, and wanted to quit.  But I didn’t, and damn.  Was it worth it.


After an extra 0.75 of a mile of climbing and scrambling beyond the trail end, up to another ridge, we stopped to take in the beauty.  Flowers plus blue-white ice, plus all-colored, all-material rocks.   Eat your heart out, Night King.  I’m the king of the world. 


I would be remiss if I left out the critters we saw on the way back down.  There are marmots all over the mountain, and it was warm enough for some of them to come out and entertain us.  They are these big fuzzy things you want to hug, but then they let out a cry and while at first I thought it was some sorry hiker that fell in the crevasse, now every time I see the attached YouTube video, I laugh like a hyena.


I would also be remiss if I were to leave out the part where I fell in the stream (pictured above) on the way back.  Yes, I fell in, yes, it was cold, no, I wasn’t thrilled.  It did, however, allow me to say “screw it” to trying to navigate the other streams though, so I happily splashed across since I was already wet. 

I have to say, of the hikes I’ve done since I’ve lived here, this ranks close to the top.  Another trip to Olympic National Park awaits later this month, but for now, it will be hard to usurp Heliotrope.  After all, this is America at its finest, on its best weekend. 





Half Marathons

One of my under-30 goals was to run a marathon.  As you might know, 30 came and went three years ago, and I still have not run a marathon.

In place of this, I ran my first half-marathon in June of 2017, and my second in August.  Prior to the June race, the furthest I’ve ever run when not training was 4 miles.   To run 3x+ that was an insurmountable task, until I started training.  Also, now that I’ve successfully completed 13.1 miles twice, to run 26.2 sounds insane.  I think I’ll skip it…for now.



I started running to curb my anxiety, and realized I loved it.  No, not because it helps me stay slim. I’ve not lost any weight; in fact, I’ve got these giant thighs that have been known to tear my jeans.  No, not because I like to win races; I’ve not finished better than top 60% at any race I’ve done.  Instead, I love it because it gives me time to focus on myself – anywhere from 30 to 150 minutes at a time.  Yes, 150.  Two and a half hours.  I’m slow.

I could wax poetic on the benefits of running – or the pains it causes.  But I think the biggest lesson here isn’t that running is great, or it will kill your knees, which it is and it can.  The big lesson here is that if you want to do something, it takes time and dedication.  If you want it bad enough, you will be able to do it.

I don’t think I’ll ever be competitive; I just can’t match the times of those with legs as long as my body.  What I will be, however, is happy and accomplished.  And who knows, maybe I will make a full marathon my under-40 goal.


86! 12! 11! Hike!

One of the nice things about Victoria is that once you’re outside the city, you are surrounded in forests full of amazing hikes.  Weeble and HMR live in Houston, TX (they’re fine, btw – Hurricane Harvey left them relatively untouched), and they wanted to be outdoors in nice, cool weather rather than sweating their both proverbial and literal balls off in Texas.

Because it was their vacation, they chose the hike – around 7 miles round trip – through the forests.  We set off, and I was the idiot who found a beach area on a trail offshoot that was at a 45° angle over rocks.  The beach was worth it, but that up and down was brutal.   Had I known, I’d have skipped the extra half mile detour to the beach.



I even made a friend on the beach!  They were everywhere, and this little dude was sadly too slow to escape our clutches.  We did let him go, but not after a key photo op. IMG_4195

HMR and Weeble met playing soccer, so they figured they would be fit enough to hike.  Unfortunately, they were a bit underprepared (I’d use the word “woefully” but that seems mean).  Pro tip:  Bring at least one more bottle of water than you think you’ll need, wear comfy, stretchy clothes that you won’t mind ruining with dirt and sweat, and if you are the type to get hangry, pack more food than you think you’ll need.

Despite HMR’s deliberate heaving, we still managed to make it to the end of the trail.  I know I overuse the word “gorgeous” when describing the vistas on these hikes, but I’m not sure there’s another word that would encompass what they actually are.



Birthday Hike!

Birthdays are rarely a treat for me.  Growing up in New England, it was always cold, caked with snow, and generally forgotten (I’m looking at you, 21st birthday).  But here in the PNW, I was lucky enough to get a sunny and 52* day, and a visit from my dear friend Jade.

Jade lives in San Antonio, and she visited specifically for this event, so we had to show her a good time.  And so, Sandwich, Louboutini, and I took Jade hiking at Fragrance Lake.  We parked at the parking lot to Larrabee State Park, and the trail head was conveniently right across the street.  Chuckanut Drive is really fun when there’s no one on it, and I was having a super time.


It’s rated as Moderate on Alltrails, so we figured it would be just challenging enough so that we could burn off all the birthday dinner calories we’d later consume.  Let me tell you.  My butt felt GREAT after this one.  The above photo was taken before my quads were on fire – stairmaster, eat your heart out.


I think the 50s are my favorite hiking temps, especially when working on elevation gains.  This one isn’t too bad, only 1100′, but it can hit you with some steep inclines.  I tell you, I have never been so excited to wear a t-shirt in March.


The lake itself seemed so drab to me – colors will come out in a few months – but Jade loved it.   I suppose there’s something peaceful about the reflection on the water, but I can’t wait for all the green!

The best part of the hike, however, was a little lookout over Bellingham Bay.  I don’t think I’ll ever get sick of this view.   And the best part is that all it takes is a little leg work (literally)!


Staircase to Heaven

The Ginger and CDB wanted to get to their flight by 4pm, which meant we had time for only one short hike.  We chose to go to Staircase Monument, since it was on the way to SeaTac, but still promised a lovely view of a waterfall.


Again, CDC bitched about everything, despite the Ginger and my urging to get a move on (to about 3 mph).  He was more interested in breakfast oysters and beer than seeing any more of the national park, so at some point we hiked ahead left him.  Louboutini kept him company, much to his chagrin, and we secretly thanked him later for taking one for the team.

The waterfall was not a hard hike, but it was gorgeous, even if the water flow was drastically reduced.  The Ginger mentioned that it was a perfect place to propose to someone, and he isn’t completely wrong.  It’s secluded and romantic, and aside from the fact that you’d be sweaty, your hands would likely be swollen, you’d smell bad, and if you are anything like CDB you’d be hungry, thirsty, whining, and upset with everyone, it truly is an ideal place to pop the question.


Editor’s Note:  I care about being sweaty and smelly, so if you are ever planning on proposing, please don’t do it when I look like I have Muppet Hands.


What a Hoh

When I moved from Texas, everyone said they’d come visit.  However, the only one I believed was the Ginger; he said he would come visit to go hiking.  The Ginger is from the Dirty Jerz, and has lived all over the country, so it’s not surprising he is less inclined to enjoy the rolling flatness of Texas, and he’d take the opportunity to escape the oppressive southern summer.


We planned to meet at Olympic National Park, which would be my first trip there.  After picking him up around the University of Washington campus, we had a three-hour drive to figure out where to start.  After some deliberation between the Ginger, Louboutini, and the Ginger’s travel friend, Cheap Douchebag (CDB), we decided on the Hoh Rainforest (insert “hoe” jokes here).

CDB is not athletic, he is cheap (thus the C), he’s a haughty elitist (“Iiiii went to Harvard Laaaaaaw”) and he does not appreciate nature.  Nor does he appreciate people going out of their way to make it easier for him.  Needless to say, he was a very large damper on the whole thing – complaining, whining, going slow on purpose, not chipping in for anything, and repeatedly mentioning how he liked being in Seattle proper a lot better, with the restaurants, girls, and booze.  Despite his best efforts, however, he still couldn’t ruin the incredible experience we were about to have.

We chose what amounted to a seven-mile hike, that started in the Hall of Mosses.  It wasn’t difficult, but damn, was it beautiful.  Not everything that is gorgeous needs to be hard.


The main hike would be through the rainforest, and be an out and back.  The trees are so much taller and wider than I’ve ever seen – this is what ants must feel like when they come across a twig.



Yes, I realize how phallic this all seems…

Summer 2017 had been awfully dry in the PacNW, so the “rain” part of the rainforest was lacking a bit.  Only about 100 inches of rain so far, in an area that usually gets 200 inches a year.  I’m glad we didn’t get rained on, but I cannot imagine the area being even MORE green.  I felt like I was stuck in Kermit the Frog – not that it was a bad thing.





Paddleboarding Extravaganza

Gem and I were really into the idea of going paddleboarding, and Groupon had a bunch of deals from which to choose, and while we’d never actually done it, we figured it couldn’t be that hard.

The day we chose ended up being a little choppy, so we went to a calmer side of Sanibel Causeway. The lady dropped off the paddleboards, gave us some instructions, and drove away. We had four hours of boarding to attempt, and by George, we were going to do it. We were even going to attempt yoga!IMG_20170424_085308726

It had been cool out, but we certainly miscalculated how burned you can get. We did not last the entire four hours (maybe 90 minutes?), but we did pretty much everything we wanted to: played with birds diving for fish, saw dolphins, attempted yoga poses (Gem was much better at this than I was), and even swam a bit.

Gem is much better at a lot of things than I am…not just paddleboard yoga.

I even made a little friend, who was hanging out in the truck for us when we got back.


It’s quite fun, and can be a workout when people don’t adhere to no-wake zones, or when the water is choppy.


I resolved to buy a paddleboard from Costco when I returned to the PacNW. Until I saw how much they cost, and then I resolved to rent one instead.


Birthday Weekend, Part 1

My third 29th birthday was last Thursday, and what better way to celebrate than a weekend getaway to…Dallas.  No, I didn’t go to Cabo, no I didn’t go on a cruise, or even New York City.  Instead, I packed a bag and set off for the winter warmth of Texas.

Of course, birthday weekend wouldn’t be off to a good start without some birthday present (to myself), in the form of new running pants.  Now all I need are some running sneakers to match 🙂

These are super fun – the squiggles are actually silver.

I was told these look like the 80s threw up on my black pants.

Upon my arrival in Dallas, I was greeted with a sushi dinner (being Friday and Lent and all).  It was at a place I’d been to once before, and they were nice enough to let me use my Groupon on a Friday night.  I think I have a new favorite sushi spot in Dallas, though only if there’s a deal.


IMG_20160304_195029643The first picture is missing a few rolls that came later, and yes, you do see two of the same rolls in each photo.  They’re hands down my favorites – the black caviar one is called the White Russian…what can I say?  I love Anna, I love this sushi roll – I just love my white Russians.

Somehow, despite the weekend being insanely busy, I managed to hit a vintage market (which was actually more of a disappointment – I was hoping for much more.  Maybe next year, though) coupled with a home and garden show.  I got in trouble for taking photos, but there were some cute little cacti and lovely cards.  I also bought some hot pepper-infused jelly.  I recommend the blueberry and the jalapeño mint.




Post market, it was such a beautiful day, I wanted to take advantage of the weather and the marginally safer streets, and went for a run outside.  When it’s 77 degrees out and winter everywhere else, you’d be a fool to not do something outside.  A short 5k around some of Dallas’s main arteries meant that I should probably reward myself.  I had wanted to go to a brewery for ages, and finally made it:  Deep Ellum Brewing Company.  $15 gets you three pints, a souvenir glass, and some prime people watching.  And folks, my PSA soapbox comment:  Just because you think you are hot stuff and wearing leggings in public does not give you permission to go commando.  Especially if the leggings are already stretched tight.  That material stretches further when you bend over, and when that material stretches and becomes transparent….ooof.  That was NOT a Grand Canyon I wanted to visit.



Dinnertime meant a trip to meet some friends at Chino Chinatown, which was in a fancypants area with lots of restaurants I want to try.  It’s a Latin-Asian fusion, and I have just four words for you:  Duck.  Fat.  Fried.  Rice.  Everything was delicious, but really, that fried rice was divine.  To die for.  I could go back and eat just that.  The drinks were inventive but not terribly strong, so the beers beforehand were helpful.  I’m not an alkie, I swear.  I just enjoy feeling bubbly 🙂  Good conversation, good food, nice area.  I couldn’t really ask for more for my birthday.

Like all good things, weekends come to an end, and unfortunately, so do birthday weekends.  I flew back to reality this past Monday, and have been stuck in an office for the last few days.  Friday brings about Birthday Weekend, Part 2 in DC, when I head down to see some racing friends.  I think I’m pretty lucky – who else gets to have two birthday weekends?

Artificial Ceilings

Recently, I started listening to podcasts.  My two go-tos are Freakonomics and The Tim Ferriss Show, both of which I find incredibly interesting.  Last week, there was a rebroadcast on Freakonomics – an interview with Kobayashi Takeru, the guy that revolutionized the world of competitive eating.  If you’re interested in the whole thing, here is the link.

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The idea of eating even more than two (ok, three) hot dogs in one sitting sort of makes me want to yak, so when you say “as many as possible, and oh, the world record is X,” I want to crawl into the fetal position and die.  But it was this talk of the former world record, which was 25 1/8 hot dogs, that really struck me.  He destroyed that record, on his first attempt at the contest, and devoured 50 hot dogs.

Speaking through a translator, Kobayashi explained the idea of an artificial barrier, which is something I think I struggle with on a day-to-day basis:

I think the thing about human beings is that they make a limit in their mind of what their potential is. They decide I’ve been told this, or this is what society tells me, or they’ve been made to believe something.

Today, I reasoned that perhaps I’d been giving myself artificial barriers.  And I began to think about what might happen if I removed them.

I decided to start removing barriers at the gym.  I had the idea that I could only run at a 6.0 mph pace – maaaaaaybe 6.1 if I was feeling really ambitious.  But my coworker, who also has bad knees and rarely runs, told me that he sets the treadmill at 7.0 mph.  This got me thinking – yes I have short legs. No, I’ve never been particularly fast. But no, I’ve never tried going faster.  I just assumed I couldn’t do it.

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And so, tonight, I tried something new for my warmup run.  Instead of starting out at 5.8 mph, I set the speed to 6.5, and ran for 1.5 miles.  For the next lap, I increased the speed to 6.6, and for the last two laps, I increased it to 6.7.  And what do you know.  I did it.

It was a happy moment – I felt accomplished and proud, and I realized that my dream of a consistent 8:45/mile pace is actually closer than I thought.  I am motivated, I am determined, and I now have the confidence I can do it.

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And what if I applied that thought to finding a job?  Usually, it’d be, “I’d never get XYZ position, they never hire people with my kind of experience, I’ve never gotten an interview there before”…but if I bust through that wall and apply, you never know.  What if I applied this to finding a boyfriend?  “That guy would never talk to me, he’s out of my league, I can’t date that far up, I know what my limit is”…but maybe that limit isn’t actually there.

What if we all thought like this.  I realize this is a bit rose-colored (I’m probably still high on endorphins), but blindly accepting what we believe are the limits of our own abilities can hinder us – we stagnate, we don’t grow, we never achieve.  History is full of brave souls and amazingly intelligent individuals, but the only thing that makes them different from us is that they didn’t accept the limits society gave them.   What would we all achieve if we followed their example?

It’s just food for thought, but when your mind starts to wander, and you think of all the great things you might do….it’s a temping proposition to push the limits.