Or, more accurately, I return to the Mummy. On Friday, my last full day in Vegas, I challenged myself to revisit an old friend, Raintree, a 3,000 year old Bristlecone Pine, who lives on the Mummy Springs Trail.
The first time I hiked Mummy Springs back in May 2013, it was my highest peak to date, taking me over 10,000′, and my biggest elevation gain, at +1,800′. I can recall, with clarity, how difficult I found this hike back in May. How I gave it everything I had, huffing and puffing the entire 3 hours and 10 minutes. It wasn’t the most enjoyable hike, but it was one hell of a workout.
The challenge I set for myself for round two with the Mummy was to take it slower; to enjoy the sights, sounds and smells of this hike. In other words I challenged myself to actually experience it, rather than huffing, puffing, and charging forward, with barely a glance upwards to take in my surroundings, as per usual.
This hike was different to any other I had done during this trip, both due to my chillaxed stated and also because of the amount of snow that had accumulated on Mt. Charleston with the past week. A week ago, I was literally hiking a trail just minutes from this one wearing shorts and a t-shirt.
In comparison, Friday’s trail looked like a winter wonderland.
I quickly realized however that my crazy quirks (i.e. mild claustrophobia, agitated state caused by walking behind someone bigger/taller than me, etc., etc.) kicked in, and I was having difficulty looking at his back as we climbed.
In simple terms, I need to see more than 10 feet ahead of me, or else I feel…I don’t even know how to describe it… boxed in, I guess.
I refer to it as claustrophobic, but that’s not it. It’s just a weird control-freak’ish element to my personality, I suppose. At any rate, I asked if I could pull ahead (we had to walk single file due to the narrowness of the trail).
Once I took the lead, he fell back.
This pissed me off for a number of reasons.
At first I didn’t say anything, choosing instead to slow my pace too, [slower than I was already going, which felt painfully slow, by the way], just to see if the gap would close, but he just kept falling farther behind. And my nerves were ready to explode.
Once I got to a point where I could no longer see him (switchbacks), I stopped and waited until he was in view. Then I yelled.
“DUDE. COME ON!!!”
Him: Just go on. I’m going at my own pace.
Me: Um bullshit. You are going WAY slower than you normally do.
Him: No I’m not. Stop being silly.
Me: YES YOU ARE. I’m going at half my normal speed and you’re still way behind. You’ve adjusted your pace to stay way behind me.
Him: You’re being crazy. I’m not doing that.
Me; LET’S GO. Now we’ve wasted a bunch of time arguing and not moving. My overall pace is going to be HORRIBLE now.
At which point I remembered what I had challenged myself to do on this hike. Oh fuck. 🙂 Oops…
Okay, so I needed to stop worrying about pace and finish time…BUT… he really was going way slower than normal, and I am glad I called him out on it. I think he was actually psyching himself out because I’m normally much farther ahead of him, so maybe his head was telling him that he needed to be going slower even though his body was capable of doing more.
We finally found our rhythm and hiked closer together for the remainder of the climb, which was nice because it actually gave me someone to say, “Hey – check out that cool tree.” and other not-so-exciting observations to.
This hike is a grind, and even with slowing my pace down so that my heart wasn’t in my throat the entire time, it was a crazy tough workout. The wicking shirt underneath my fleece was drenched in sweat, in case I needed further evidence of how hard my body was working.
I finished this hike in just under 3.5 hours on Friday. Only slightly longer than my first attempt. And yet this hike was so much more enjoyable.
I’m so grateful that my health has come so far that on a hike where I decided to ‘take it easy’, I finished in a time that was only slightly slower than a hike where I gave it everything I had just 6 months prior. Now that is super cool.
I’m also proud that this time around the entire 6 mile trail was covered in 3 to 12 inches of snow, varying between fluffy/powdery to crunchy to icy/slushy depending on the section of trail, which made for added stability challenge. This was a tough hike!
But when you see the photos I’ve attached here, I’m sure you’ll agree it was worth the effort.
Eye candy at its best!
“In every walk with nature one receives far more than he seeks.”
— John Muir