Thursday, August 30, 2007

McGregor Recap Part 3

Since Tochi covered most of the details of what happened in the climb up and down McGregor, I'll sort of my take of what was happening. When we woke up on the 20th for the climb up, I felt pretty rested and ready for the climb. Up till this point, the weight of my pack hadn't really bothered me at all since we've been walking on mostly level ground. And before the trip, I had weighed my pack with about 70% of what I would be carrying, which included the 3 person tent, sleeping bag, and some spare clothes, and it came out to be at around 28 lbs. So I figured hey, it'll be a tough climb up, but with some time and effort, we'll make it up eventually.

The first 1000 ft or so up to Coon Lake didn't seem too bad. MrMonk sprinted up ahead followed closely by Tochi, and I was about 7 to 10 feet behind being followed by Orca. I felt a bit winded at first, but I figured my body would adjust along the way as the trail wasn't too steep.

The next 2000 feet or so however were a killer. With the inclines getting steeper and the number of switchbacks increasing, my quad muscles felt the burn of each step, and eventually I let Orca pass me as each step began to felt heavier and heavier. It reminded me of the time when I took the swim test at Cornell, which I slowly did, but I was so spent afterwards that I was almost crawling to the locker room because my legs were exhausted from kicking. Tochi took notice and dropped back to share his water and encourage me on.

Slowly but surely at around 3000 or 4000 feet, my quad pains eventually died down, but they were replaced by a sharp pain along a tendon that runs on the side of the knee, which felt like they were being stabbed by a knife >.< So now every step I took I had to grimace a bit >.< The pack weight combined with the extra incline had began to take its toll on my knees...

Somehow I managed to get myself to the top, and I probably should have stopped there. While MrMonk and Tochi set up some semblance of a camp, Orca wandered further up the summit to do some scouting, and I tried following for a bit since I was a bit worried of her going up alone, but the steep rocky steps were too much for me. Fortunately she came back without harm.

At this point, I was hoping that some rest would do me some good, but with the rain coming down during the night and the ground being so cold inside the tent, it was hard to get some good rest in and have my joints loosen up a bit.

When we started our trek down the next morning, it was pretty much pitch dark, and I was sort of on the edge of sleep and consciousness, which caused me to stumble about 3 times and resulted in miscellaneous cuts on my left leg. The 4th time I slipped on a branch and felt the sharp pain in my left ankle >.< OMFG, I was thinking come on...I've already slowed the climb up McGregor yesterday, and right now I'm up 6000 ft in the mountains, the early shuttle we want to catch is 4 hours away from leaving, and I have to deal with a golf ball-sized left ankle now -_-

After I got myself back on my feet, my compassionate friends (or maybe they were too tired to be mad at me) asking if there was anything they could help me carry. I was sort of stubborn at first and didn't want to give in because 1) I didn't want Mt. McGregor to get the best of me and 2) I really hate making things burdensome for others because I screwed up somewhere. But since I already violated rule #2, I gave in, and Tochi, Orca, and MrMonk divided up the stuff in my pack, with MrMonk taking the tent, Tochi taking some miscellaneous camping gear, and Orca taking some of my backup clothes and the infamous box of wet wipes. With the increased weight of his pack, MrMonk decided to speed up his descent since he felt he would be less tired that way. Tochi also lended me his hiking poles to help me down the hill.

Now at this point, you might be thinking well, you're making a downhill descent, so even though you have a turned ankle and maybe some overworked knee tendons, that has to be easier right? I figured that might be the case too, but the downhill descent I think proved to be more painful than the trek up because you have to bend and extend your legs to catch yourself as you "fall", and since there was more knee bending involved, there was more pain involved -_- And I think Tochi's poles were hindering me a bit because for some reason, I felt like I was using way too much energy utilizing them to balance myself as if I were using crutches. Tochi and Orca were able to stop and take pictures at miscellaneous times during the trek down while I continued ahead, and even though there were points where I thought I had gone ahead too far (I would look back and not be able to see them), about 30 seconds later, they would be right behind me again, so I was pretty much moving at a snail's pace.

At some point on the way down Orca proclaimed "we're halfway down McGregor!", and I think we had about 4 or so hours to make it to the second shuttle to go back to the pier, so I figured hey, we might be in ok shape. An hour later, I asked on our progress, and Orca says that we hadn't moved that much elevation-wise (maybe 300 or 400 feet, and we had a total of 3000 or so to go) since the paths had started to level off in terms of steepness -_- So things weren't looking too good...

At this point, I finally decided "screw it, I'm gonna start walking/crawling/rolling/whatever down this hill as fast as I can" as held the poles in one hand, locked my knees so that they wouldn't bend to cause any pain, and keened in my vision on where to step so I wouldn't fall down. I had entered Super Saiyan mode, and I probably looked like a dual peg-legged pirate walking down the trails, and I probably aggravated my ankle a couple of times stepping on some lose rocks, and I might have even stepped on some small frogs along the way, but I didn't care, because I was gonna make sure that Tochi and Orca got to the shuttle in time. Fortunately, Tochi and Orca noticed my speed increase and followed down as well, and to make a long story short, we made it down with about an hour or so to spare :) After zoning out of Super Saiyan mode, I was dead tired and basically slept most of the ferry trip back. Fortunately my left leg was still in one piece.


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