Friday, May 13, 2016

Climbing Mount Saint Helens!

Guys.... I DID IT!!

I climbed Mount Saint Helens.

Hubs has been on a kick to do a climb (aka: something bigger than a hike).  Mt. Hood, Mt. Adams, Mt. St. Helens - he was on a kick.

Thanks to kidney stones, I've successfully evaded the past few weekends of climbing.  Then also thanks to Aaron's overtime, I was able to avoid Mt. Hood the weekend before last.

But this last weekend we didn't have anything.  I was hesitant to go on a Sunday b/c I knew I'd be exhausted for the remainder of the week (AND I AM!) but I took the plunge and we. did. it.

With a 3:00am alarm clock and on the road by 4:00am, we were able to have trekking poles in hand, backpacks on backs, just in time for go-time at 5:45am.

Yes, folks, on our luxurious Sunday morning we were hiking at 5:45am.  Don't be jealous - I have the bags under my eyes to prove sleep deprivation is a nasty thing.

But I digress.

We pushed on.  The first half of the climb was snow-less which I was thankful for.  While it was steep we kept a good pace and passed several of the larger groups.  Aaron brought his skis to ascend the snowy parts where I intended to boot pack it.

Boot packing was definitely the wiser decision - but we won't tell him.

Oh and did I mention - we were climbing on Mother's Day which means everyone wore DRESSES!  Aaron's stage name was Ginger Pop.  And he was a B-E-A-U-T. Not to mention - he wore his 20 pound work vest just to add an extra level of challenge. #CantKeepUp

After having read about the false summit, I thankfully was prepared (as others around me were NOT).  It was nevertheless any less discouraging slightly to reach the incredibly steep false summit just to continue on to the real summit.

Ginger Pop making her way up


After we summited and almost lost my jacket, my trekking poles, and Ginger Pop's wig we decided it was time to book it back down.  Hubs had skis and the few people who left before us all left on their butts.

That's right.  Slid down the mountain on their butts.

It's called glissading, and it's as terrifying as it sounds (when it's ice).

But when it's NOT ice - it's one of the most FUN things you'll ever do!!

Oh you know - just sliding down on my butt

Have you ever slid down the mountain on your bootay?!  I might be bruised on my entire backside, but it was worth it.

And on another note - I'm desperately looking to learn to edit photos.  If anyone has any suggestions/tools/resources I'd love to hear!

Happy FRIDAY!!

Monday, May 02, 2016

Annual Dog Mountain hike


...the hubs and I did our first hike up Dog Mountain.  I stopped at almost every switchback (which equates to a ton of stopping) and did a lot of huffing-and-puffing.

The hike was "sooooo steep" that I even lost both of my big toenails from the descent (and my toes jamming into the front of my shoes).


...I kicked Dog Mountain's butt on the way up.  You might remember from this post that I was incredibly proud of myself for the progress I'd made on my fitness.  While the ascent went swimmingly, the descent ended in severely spraining my ankle causing me problems all throughout summer.


...was third time the charm!  With Crossfit 3x per week and our hiking regimen, hikes like Dog Mountain seem like another walk in the park (a hard walk in the park, though, with lots of heavy breathing).

The wild flowers were in SERIOUS full bloom!  And with full bloom comes full crowds.

The hubs got off his10:00pm-8:00am shift, came home, and we booked it to the mountain.  He's such a trooper :-)  I was super proud of our early start and expected to have pick-of-the-litter for parking spots.


The trail head was a ZOO.  We had to park in the overflow parking which is AT LEAST an additional half mile away from the trail head.

But that's ok - because it's wild flower season and this girl was STOKED.

We brought primcess Polly who was a total champ until the last uphill stretch, and a majority of the downhill portion.  We passed a man with his pug in a front-body-carrier aaaaand I may or may not consider purchasing one for Polly.
Don't judge me - she's my babe.

And on that note - here are photos from this year's Dog Mountain hike!  We may or may not have had a mini-photoshoot of Polly in the flowers.  My sweet hubs is such a trooper.

Monday, April 25, 2016

Trekking Through Peru - Part 2 (the hike)

I've struggled with writing this post because our trek itself was incredibly bittersweet.

The trek was intended to be 3 days, 2 nights.
Day 2 happened to be my 29th birthday!

The forecast called for rain, rain, and more rain.  But the hubs and I were both prepared with our best hiking rain gear, and with our best attitudes.

We would hike to 15,862 feet elevation.  For those who aren't familiar with what that means, that means THIN air resulting in difficulty breathing.

I was a nervous wreck leading up to the Trek - I didn't want to be THAT person who fell behind and caused the group to take more breaks than needed.  I didn't want to be THAT person who struggled while everyone else had an easy time walking up the mountain.

Day 1

Day 1 started later than I would have anticipated.  I'm an early hiker.  I prefer to leave early and take my time, rather than leave later and feel rushed.

We got started at some hot springs.  While our amazing cooks prepared a trout lunch for us, some of our group swam in the springs.  While I LOVE springs, I was saving my hot-springing for Aguas Calientes which concluded our trek.  I've seen gorgeous pictures and couldn't WAIT to play in the hot springs at the end of the hike.

Day 1 was rainy.   Miserably rainy.  By the time we made it to our camp we were all cold, damp, and exhausted.  But nothing feels more amazing than arriving to camp to see tents already set up.  All we had to do was change our clothes and head to dinner that was being prepared for us - WIN!!

I learned really quickly that night that I under-packed.  Don't get me wrong - I prepared for rain up the wazoo.  But I did NOT prepare for the cold.

I should have red-flagged when Aaron crawled into bed and said, "I feel like crap.  And I'm cold."  Aaron doesn't get cold.  If you've ever driven in a car with him in the middle of freezing winter in Reno - you'll notice he has the windows down.  I think he secretly enjoys seeing his own breath.

Neither of us slept well.  I couldn't get warm, and Aaron was coughing all night which kept us both up.  He woke up and said he had gunk in his lungs.  He's always hacking nasty stuff up so I didn't think anything of it.

Bad Ashley.
The team preparing our bags

Children along the hike

Day 2

We started the day with the group singing me Happy Birthday - I was on cloud 9!  We were in gorgeous country side.  Had breakfast prepared for us.  And we were starting the hardest day of the 3-day Trek.  My spirits were at an all time HIGH!

We got started and Aaron kept coughing.  And coughing.  And coughing.

He started dragging behind.  HE became that person that we stop and took breaks for (note:  Aaron is usually the leader of the pack.  This should have been my red flag #2 that something was up).  Our guides tried to check his oxygen level but Aaron's fingers were too fat and wouldn't provide a good measure.

We moved on.  We should have turned back.

Aaron's condition got progressively worse.  The guides finally secured a donkey for Aaron to finish the day.  We still had about 7 more miles to go that day, and hadn't even begun the ascent up to the summit.

While Aaron was feeling like crap - I was on an all-time high.  It was a miserable hike.  By far the hardest hike I've ever done at the highest elevation I've ever done.  But I was chugging along just  fine and was staying with the front of the group.

Most of the time I was by myself singing "the ants go marching 1 by 1 hoorah... hoorah..."

After a grueling day, I made it to the top with three others!!  This was the highest high I've ever been on.  I'd done it after thinking several times that this was impossible.  there was no WAY I'd be able to keep going.
When will I ever make it?  
Where IS the top?  
Is anyone else having a hard time breathing too?  
Are we close?  

We waited for the rest of the group to arrive.  Aaron's donkey brought him to the top and he slid off and laid down, continuing to cough up gunk.  The guides put him on oxygen (THANK GOD!) which helped a little.  They made the determination there that he needed to be medically evacuated off the mountain.

Medical evacuation = donkey.

I decided I needed to go with him.  Unfortunately there was no easy way off the mountain, no rescue service, other than to finish the entire hike during day 2.

There would be no day 3 - we combined day 3 with day 2.

I remembered crying as we past by our campsite.  That's where the rest of our group would be eating hot dinner and sleeping peacefully in a canyon of mountains.  We pushed on.
Aaron on donkey.
And me by foot.

I secretly thought when they asked if I wanted to go with, that I too would get a donkey!  I mean - who in their right mind would combine day 2 and day 3 on FOOT?!  Don't they realize how exhausted I am?

But alas - I continued on, running behind the donkey trying to keep up so that we could hopefully make it to the ambulance before dark.

If this day has any indication of what my 29th year would be like, then I want a re-do!  

But Aaron was barely coherent and very clearly needed medical attention ASAP!

17 miles later we reached the spot where the ambulance was supposed to pick us up.  But alas- no ambulance.

So we kept moving.

2 miles later we found our saving grace - the ambulance!!  I may have cried then too I was so happy.  My knees were in horrible pain.  My energy level tanked.  I hadn't eaten since lunch - and it was now 9pm.
Good morning bowls of hot water!

Mor children - notice their shoes

This, my friends, should have been our turnaround point.

Gorgeous country

Aaron's savior

I told him, "Smile - it's my birthday."  This was all he could muster.

I made him pose at the summit - he was less than thrilled


We made it!  Waiting for the rest of the group.
Aaaand that's a wrap

Monday, March 07, 2016

Trekking through Peru - Part 1

The hubs and I decided we wanted to travel more. And by travel more, we mean by plane. We do lots of local trips (mostly hiking if you read along) but realized we wanted to do more venturing out of the Pacific Northwest. 

So after always discussing "wanting to travel more" I  sporadically booked a trip to South America. The hubs studied abroad and ever since we've been wanting to visit South America.  I found awesome ticket prices to Lima so we decided to do one of my bucket list items: Machu Picchu!!! 

This is the first part of two post which will explain why we intended to visit Machu Picchu but never actually got to :-( 

We booked through G Adventures tour which has a load of mixed feelings. 
Lets just say our tour-mates all had far superior experiences than we did. 
From booking to the end of the tour we experiences nothing but issues that made my dream trip turn into a nightmare.  
My ultimate recommendation? We won't be booking G Adventures again, mostly just from the hassle of booking the trip. 

Flights were booked, bags were packed. 
And we were ready. 
Below are some photos and stories PRE-HOSPITAL stay.  
Yep - we landed ourselves in a hospital in Peru which concluded the last 80% of our trip. 

 But the first 20% was quite lovely :-) 

Our tour we booked was the Lares Trek - hiking 22 miles up to 15,800 feet altitude over the course of three days. 

 For those of you who have never been 15,800 feet above sea level - its fucking hard (pardon my language - but there's no better way to describe it!). Your lungs and muscles are entirely depleted from oxygen. 
Every step is taken with a deep breath. 
Your lungs are pissed off. 

And to top it all off - do this in rain. 

But all complaining aside - it was amazing. 
We met locals who live the same way they did hundreds of years ago using bones as tools and dying alpaca yarn with boiling water and natural ingredients. 
I was taller than everyone we met. 
Our local guides/porters cooked amazing food and taught us all about our surroundings. 
For a good chunk of time I was quite certain I was in the movie set for The Hobbit. 
Our tour mates were a wonderful group of people - and I was secretly obsessed with the 3 Irish gals, their accents, and ability to wiggle the word "fuck" into their every conversation. 

Making alpaca yarn - step 1: Create Yarn


View from our room in Ollyantaytambo

Meet Polly and Ibo's new sister

Mango.  That's a MANGO!  Heaven.