Know your limits.

I’ve recently strained my gastrocnemius muscle while on a trip to Death Valley. I remember it felt like an extreme Charlie horse, that reminded me of the ones I use to suffer from during my football days. After massaging it I decided to just put my head down and keep on going. Which is what I always seem to do. I know my limits and I continue to press those limits, as if it is going to make me limitless. After scaling a couple of peeks, followed by another hike, and a night on trampolines (Sky Zone), my calf gave out.

Being injured when all you want to do is be outside and explore and just see the beauty of nature is really disheartening. I’ve been doing all I can to heal and for a bit it actually felt like I was fully healed. I can’t tell you, how excited I was to actually be close to ending my recovery. I quickly made plans with some friends to do an easy 5 mile trail for the following weekend. I thought I was fine. I was wrong.

ec2I picked a hike near Altadena CA, called Eaton Canyon. It’s a well traveled hike and very popular with the locals. Not my type of trail, but it said it was easy, and since I just recovered I figured “why not”? I set out on the trail with a couple of companions and we were off. The trail for the most part is a wide dirt fire road. It runs along a dry river bed (We are in a drought) and continues further into the canyon, taking moderate inclines until reaching a waterfall.

eaton canyonI was doing really well at first, and nothing was hurting. I felt like I had no limits. I soon found a small debris flow that went off the trail and into another canyon. I felt a small smile form on my face as I looked at my friends and said, let’s go! I don’t know if it was the adventurer or the geologist in me that wanted to explore that area more. Probably a mixture of both? On one side I would be able to get away from the crowds, and on the other there was the possibility of finding some cool metamorphic rocks.

As I begun my ascent, I was moving quite quickly, using the larger rocks for footing. Then it hit me. I felt my calf pull and had to immediately stop. This was worse than before, I felt it instantly cramp up, and for the life of me I could not do anything with it. My friend asked if I was okay, and I told her what happened. We stopped and rested for several minutes. Then we all decided that was going to have to do it for the day.

ec3As we headed back I had to walk slowly, as to not put too much pressure on my leg. Each step was painful, but I have a high tolerance for pain and can usually just push through the pain. I remember feeling disappointed and angry with myself. I really wanted to finish this hike. I wanted to be better. I wanted to do more, but I couldn’t. I pushed myself too much and now I was hurt again, possibly worse than before.

It’s been a few days since that hike, and my leg does not feel better. The RICE method has become a constant routine and at times it feels much better. But today is pretty bad. As I write this now, I can feel a golf ball size lump on my calf muscle and boy does it hurt to massage it out.

Anyway that is my little rant on going beyond your limits. I hope next time I suffer a minor injury I listen to my body and know when to take it easy. It’s going to be a few weeks before I’m ready to hit the trails again. I hope I don’t get cabin fever in the mean times.

Cheers!

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A Short Hike with a Friend

I become restless when being indoors for too long. Especially after going camping out in the middle of nowhere. That being said I called up one of my best friends to go on a short hike. She is going to be leaving soon, and when she get’s back I’ll be heading to Alaska, so I figured why not spend some time with a good friend while I can.

IMG_20140109_123046_608We decided to do a short trail close to home. Thankfully when you live in Southern California, a decent trail is only a stone throw away. We set off at mid-day to hit our trail as it only took us minutes to drive to the location. The hike itself was short and sweet. It had a big incline in the beginning that took you to the top of the hill. From there you can see the valley that we live in below, as well as views of the majestic 210 and 57 freeways. Or at least partially as the weather was hazy and cloudy. It wasn’t really smoggy, we just had a lot of overcast that hadn’t burnt off yet. Still the view was fantastic.

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As we set off on another trail to take us down we traveled through some trees in the valley of the hills. This part was definitely my favorite. There were red tail hawks soaring above, screeching as the circled about. The trees grew on the sides of the path, creating some shade with their canopies. In some parts of the trail rock outcrops could be seen, giving a hint to the geologic make up of the land. I love looking at the rocks, they always have a story tell.

Soon the trail ended and we found ourselves among some horse stables. If felt as if we were being greeted by friendly horses as they picked up their heads to look at us with wonder. It reminded us both of times when we had horses and we shared stories of our horses. We shared a lot of stories that day.

Looking back it seems bitter sweet to me. All this time I’ve been planing and preparing to leave everyone behind and go on a big adventure, only to have a good friend to be accepted to go off on one for herself. I am very joyous for her and her opportunity. I just thought I was going to have these last few months with my closest group of friends before I left on my adventure. At least another of my best friends isn’t leaving, even though his internship takes up a lot of time, we always find a way to hang out. Whether we are just hanging out and having a beer or we are out on a short camping adventure we always have a blast.

Well come what may, these next few months is all I have until I return. It’s sort of strange really. A big part of me cannot wait for that day in May when I fly to the last frontier, and a small part of me is sad for the ones I’m leaving behind. I’m going to miss these friends, as they have become my family. I don’t see them as friends, I see them as family, the family I chose.

Adventure in Death Valley

IMG_20140104_084045_526Death Valley is a magical place, that most would steer clear from. It’s very name can strike fear in the hearts of the mundane, but for those of us who find real beauty in nature, it is a wonderful place. Where the desert seems endless and hostile, but at the same time delicate and beautiful. There are mountains everywhere all with their own secrets, and all yearning to be explored. The beauty of the desert is breath taking here, and I am glad I spent the first weekend of the new year here.

IMG_20140105_114315_467Along with a small group of friends I decided to head back to the desert while the weather is still cool, and the sun feels good instead of unbearable. We decided to go explore the abandon mines near the national park. Not in hopes of finding treasure such as gold, but merely because our curiosity had driven us to the point where we had to see the inside of the mines for ourselves.

While I don’t condone exploring abandon mines, as they can often be dangerous, we did recon and research before hand so we had weighed out the risks, and if a tunnel seemed to dangerous, then we would not explore it. With that in mind, we were off to see the mines.

IMG_20140104_110503_410We spent two days and three nights in the desert, exploring caves and climbing up peaks by day, stargazing and campfire stories by night. The greatest thing about camping, in my opinion, is how it strengthens bonds. I began the trip camping with two of my best friends, and another friend from class. By the end of the trip I had camped with three of my best friends.

There is something magical about enjoying the great outdoors with good company, I can’t even describe it. Looking at a landscape from the top of a peak with three great companions is indescribable. I don’t think we as humans have evolved enough to create a word that would best describe the feeling you get with that kind of experience.

 

It always seems a little strange to me that the hardest part of a camping trip, is the journey IMG_20140104_154954_239back home. We all wanted to stay longer. Neither of us wanted to leave the desert and go back to our regular lives. Yet it is something that we must do, at least for now. Soon my life will be filled with nothing but adventure, and maybe, just maybe when that happens, I still won’t want to go back home.