I’m not one to sit around and wait for anything and I was not about to sit around and wait for things to happen today (which they have not yet happened and I am home again). So, last night I hatched a plan to run away and climb the Osceola’s. I figured it would be cooler being treed in mostly, no alpine zone, and short distance. I figured it would be good to keep Isis moving as well. Bonus, there was no need to perseverate over things at sea level by staying at home.
Getting up at 4:30a, I get things in the car and grab the water bottles I had freezing overnight, only to discover that one Nalgene burst. I still had one water and one Gatorade so, I was not too disappointed. Isis was still trying to sleep and finally relented and went down to the car. We arrived at the Mt. Osceola trail head on Tripoli Rd to discover that we were first to arrive. As we were getting underway, we witnessed the emptying of the iron ranger by the forestry service too. I didn’t think that actually happened for some reason. But it really does.
We started up the Mt. Osceola trail at around 7:30a and as I had remembered it, I thought it would be pretty simple. It’s a gradual incline in elevation and I was hoping that the trees would provide cover from the heat. What I got was a whole lot of rocks that I had forgot about and within 20 minutes, it felt like I had an ocean between my skin and my cloths. I can only imagine poor Isis with her double coat. So, I make it a point to be mindful of her breaks (which is hard because if given her way, she’s take an all-day nap on the trail). At every little water crossing (all are step overs), we stopped for deep drinks and paw soaks. I knew that they would get to be few and far between as we climbed.
We hit some flat dirt sections and the air was just thick and hanging. So much so that you could see it and it reminded me of my time in North Carolina. Perhaps I should have turned back at this point but we pressed on. After some significant boulders and rocks, Isis took an extended break that I thought we would turn around on. She was eating and drinking fine though and got up on her own. We continued to the granite slabs and she seemed to enjoy the smooth trail as well as the water running on them. We began leap frogging with what I believe was a father daughter team that was struggling in the heat. They seemed to both help keep Isis moving and stop her dead in her tracks. At the next break (at a really cold water pool towards the top), I put some distance between us so that I could work more with my little girl. She is such a people person and will stop anyone when I want her to keep moving. I scoop water onto her fur and it’s cold. She’ s not too fond of it but I need her to cool down. I also exchange her harness for her collar. I contemplated just doing Mt. Osceola but waited until I got to the summit for a final decision.
Heading towards the summit, the trail flattens out but we move slow in the heat. We come to the ledge and see the two we had been leap frogging sitting there. We take a seat behind them and I give Isis a break. There is a breeze so, I am feeling a little better about her and myself continuing on. I pull out a nectarine I had packed and settle in. The other party of hikers conversed asking about the other peaks and seemed oblivious to the trail they were on. They seemed to believe that a loop could be done of both peaks (after being told of East Osceola). After about 5 times explaining to them (and being joined by another hiker), I gave up and decided to move on to east peak. If Isis could not do it, we would turn back.
Heading down the Mt. Osceola trail, we enjoyed intermittent cooler temps and sections of really hot conditions. I was feeling very uncomfortable and seemed to be having difficulty regulating myself (due to my condition, this is a constant struggle that I push through). We come to the chimney and the by-pass. Seeing as I have Isis, I always take the By-pass. It’s just easier for her (but not for all dogs). This section is daunting to many but the key is to not over think things. Choose and go and be careful with your hands and feet placement. I end up crab walking forward most of the time. It’s not that graceful but I get down it. My number one priority is Isis and making sure she gets down safely and is not afraid. We catch up with a few hikers from earlier in the day. Some are heading to East peak and some are heading back down. All of us look tired and extremely hot.
Another break and a chance to drink some of my cold water from the melting Nalgene for Isis and myself. Love having that cold water instead of the water bladder that gets warmed by my back. Isis and I continue to east peak over some flatter dirt sections and the rocky up sections (as well as a few downs). We arrive at east peak where a hiker who has waited 7 years to be there is standing. We have a nice chat around the summit cairn and Isis takes another long break but is preoccupied by the bugs. She seems to be very perky and I am hopeful for a successful trip. There is no real view on East except for a vista just off the summit. Isis and I don’t bother with it in favor of the rest (which I now need).
Once we get moving, I know it’s all downhill for the most part. Between east and the main peak, Isis struggles a little and is carried. We are met by a few other dogs and I hold them off because I really don’t need Isis to be stressed out. We run into some of the other hikers we had initially seen as well. I opted for the By-pass again but did contemplate the chimney. Conditions and wanting to minimize stress had me choose the by-pass. Isis took this slow and easy with me and we managed to arrive at the summit of Mt. Osceola but did not stay because of the other dogs. I also wanted to get her in the small pool on the down side of the trail. We basically bee lined for it.
Once there, Isis is not happy with me as I get her soaked and I also soak my bandanna and tie it around my neck. The rest of the way down is intermittent carrying sessions, soaking in water ways, and breaking. Once back at the car, I could have wrung out my cloths and gotten at least a cup of sweat (ewww, gross!). All in all, my running away today proved that I can persevere in the heat and keep moving for the sake of my dog (when I want to stop myself). It also proved that hiking in high humidity is stupid. While I would like to continue this pace to finish the grid, conditions should prevail and when it’s so humid you can see the air hanging around you (and you are sweating your girly bits off), I should head to the water to work with Isis on swimming and getting used to being wet. No more triple H hiking for me. Until it cools down, Isis and I are grounded… And planning.
Happy to have been out today instead of sitting at home waiting… Which I am still waiting.