Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Echo Means Comeback

Yesterday was a spectacular day, so John and I went hiking. John's been up the Sam Merrill trail several times in past months, but I haven't hiked it in almost a year. It's such a beautiful trail that I don't go on weekends because every cute family and dating couple and gaggle of teenagers in the San Gabriel Valley agrees with me.

Mid-week, though, it's dreamy. Karin, the Altadena Hiker, calls it "my mountain." She shares the mountain with me and the gaggles, of course, but she's not really kidding and I know how she feels. You climb switchbacks, steep scree and stretches of relentless sun, up, up, always up. In rest stop shade you can feel the faeries watching you (except on weekends, when they fly to higher ground). And all the time you revel in the smells, the light, the sound of your breathing and the beating of your heart.

Some of you may remember I decided to take up running last spring, which was fun until I injured my hip. After the MRI, months of physical therapy, several setbacks, miles of walking, endless podcasts, boring stationary biking and colorless cussing, it was time to take my mountain back.

Atop Echo Mountain after a 2.7 mile climb, which I used to do in just over an hour, you'll find traces of the Mount Lowe Railway and ruins of a hotel that burned down in the early 20th century. You'll also find views of the San Gabriel Valley, with Los Angeles beyond. On a spectacular day like yesterday was, you can glimpse the Pacific Ocean and Santa Catalina Island.

I didn't get that far yesterday. John could have made it, but he was nice enough to stick with me. I got about a mile and a quarter and decided it was enough for my first trip back up the hill. I won't be having more setbacks. I'm going forward from now on. Make that upward. A mile and a half next time. A mile and three quarters the time after that. And so on, until I can do 2.7 miles in just over an hour, just to glimpse the ocean on a spectacular day.

29 comments:

John Sandel said...

I will ALWAYS stick with you, no matter what. If you hike into Hell, I'll be right next to you. I'd go to war with you. I'd go to J.Jill with you (again). I just want to be with you. You you you.

HearkenCreative said...

It's been too long for me, too -- almost a year since I took that hike. (http://on.fb.me/HKykaK) Gotta get back on that mountain; it's so beautiful! Glad that you and John had a good time.

youmustbefromaway.com said...

@ the other John
Ah, but would you go SHOE-SHOPPING with her...?!

But this hike's definitely something for next time.
Here's another goodie
http://runkeeper.com/user/johnburland/activity/72754380

Dina said...

So glad you are back on the trail again, Petrea.
I'm singing for you--

refrain:
f G C F G C
and I'm Back On The Trail Again, Missed You Like Some Long Lost Friend,
f G C Am
sometimes I Think I'm Just A Part Of The Wind,
f G C
when I'm Back On The Trail Again.
3) It's Been A Long, Cold Winter,
i've Been Pacin' Like A Lion In A Cage,
but Spring It Held The Key, And It Came And Set Me Free,
now I'm Walkin' Wild And Steppin' Through The Sage.
(Repeat Refrain)
bridge:
f G C
and That Breeze Caresses Like Some Sweet Lover,
f Dm G
and I Come Back To See Her Now And Then,
f G C Am
cause I Sure Miss The Pack, And The Wide Open Track,
f Dm G
can't Wait To Be Out On The Trail Again.

Shell Sherree said...

I think John likes you, Petrea. As tempting as it was to go further, moderation is a good idea. No point undoing all the good. Before long, you'll be checking out those ocean views.

Kalei's Best Friend said...

Stunning textures and lighting.... You'll achieve that trail- all in good time.. Towlsey Canyon has a great trail came across a part where oil still is oozing out of the earth!. Weekends are definitely out for hiking- every Tom, Dick and Harry is there.

Susan Campisi said...

I love this hike too. I haven't been to the top since I took in Louise but your words get me itching to go all the way. (Tommy shares that sentiment.) Hope to see you on the trail.

Petrea Burchard said...

Thank you, sweetie. I have no intention of hiking to hell, but it's good to know you'll go to the sales with me because I don't want to go with anyone else.

Petrea Burchard said...

Hi Loren! It's a beautiful mountain indeed.

Petrea Burchard said...

You bring up a good point. I can't remember us shoe shopping together.
I looked at your runkeeper and it's very nice but I don't quite fathom it. Although you do run in some very interesting places.

Petrea Burchard said...

Dina, that expresses the feeling all right, and we have sage! It smells so good up there.

Petrea Burchard said...

Thanks, Shell. If I can go twice a week I can build it. But even once a week is good.

Petrea Burchard said...

You're so right, Kalei. And thanks for the suggestion. I didn't know about Towlsey and it's not too far.

Petrea Burchard said...

I'll see you up there one of these days. I've seen Karin up there, but she starts earlier than I do so I catch her on the way down.

John Sandel said...

I'll get back to you on the shoes.

BaysideLife said...

I have mountain, hiking, trails that-smell-of-sage envy. I love Florida and I wouldn't give up my beaches (like Karen's mountain) for anything. But my dear Florida is so FLAT! Your picture is goregous and brought back memories of hiking trails in my past. I wonder if I could make it up 2.7 miles these days. Probably not. I'm cheering you on. I know you'll make the top and enjoy your ocean view.

TheChieftess said...

Wow! I didn't realize you went through all that...where have I been??? Glad you're on the mend!

J.Jill John? You're a trooper!!!

Petrea Burchard said...

Bayside, for every sage I smell I envy the salt-water breeze. We're even!

Miss one little post, Chieftess...
You know, I love to talk about my ailments. Really, I do. But I try not to harp on them every single day, at least not on the blog. Which gives you an idea of what a prince John really is.

altadenahiker said...

If you love Echo (and I know you do), even after a long lay-off, the muscle-memory carries you up. Did you find it so?

Petrea Burchard said...

I did, somewhat. Really, the hardest part is at the beginning and the rest is maintaining endurance. J & I have names for certain places on the trail and those places were there to welcome me. I was surprised at how far I got.

altadenahiker said...

Oh gosh, I totally agree with you. The first 1/8 of a mile is by far the hardest, because I think that's where we make the commitment. After that, I rarely notice the hiking itself. As for trail markers, I always pat the mile-markers on the top of the head for good luck -- going up and coming down.

Petrea Burchard said...

I did that yesterday! Patted the one-mile marker. I was so glad to see it.

Kalei's Best Friend said...

4got to mention there are remnants of the fire we had years ago.. sad and eerie to see the blackened trees... Placerita is another great hike.. years ago people would still find arrowheads in that area...

Katie said...

What a magical photo! I can definitely see the appeal of hiking this trail. I'm sure it was frustrating not to make it to the top, but very smart to pace yourself. You and John hanging out in J. Jill -- that image makes me smile!

Petrea Burchard said...

They have a nice armchair by the door, Katie. If you get a J. Jill credit card they give you so many discounts you will soon end up wearing everything in their catalogue.

Ms M said...

I love your photo, too. A trail leading onward, hope, promise....

And glad you're almost fully mended! I commiserate -- I had problems with my knee and it took about a year for it to feel back to normal. I can't yet walk as far as I did before. But it's very wise to pace things so there are no setbacks!

kulasa said...

what a beautiful photo...all the green and the shadows and the mystery at its end make it magical...making me want to go for a hike right now...

Petrea Burchard said...

Thanks for the vote of confidence, Ms. M. Although I love to hike I've never been athletic and I've been reluctant to push myself too hard.

Hello, kulasa! Thank you. I hope you get the chance for a hike soon.

Irina said...

I am envious to this deep rich spring decorations around you. Please enjoy every second of it!