The Man and I took a hike yesterday on one of our favorite trails, the Lost Valley Trail in the San Rafael Wilderness. A long time ago when The Man was married he used to go up to that trail and cut the brush with loppers. I think he went every weekend for a whole spring and summer. It gets blazing hot in the summer. He loves to work hard in 100 degree weather. He's nuts. Back then, he wanted to see that trail and the Hurricane Deck trail kept open. The forest service seems to have decided these trails should be abandoned. Probably because they go too close to Native American archaeological sites. We've watched it decay over the years and haven't been there for a while.
Seems the forest service got a bit of stimulus money recently and opened up the Lost Valley trail for about 4 miles. The trail was in great condition. A few blow downs, but otherwise better than it has been. For the first 4 miles anyway up to Oak tree camp. Then the trail has fallen to pieces. Our jaunty 3mph pace slowed to 1mph in a few sections.
Near the summit, though, it improved and past the Pine tree camp the brush was dry and easy to get through. The area had burned in the 2007 Zaca Fire and remains fairly easy going. We reached the junction with Hurricane Deck by 1pm.
We had lunch up at the junction. We enjoyed views of the Sierra Madre. It was so clear and the air so clean I knew if we had been on the Sierra Madre mountains we would have been able to see the snowy peaks of the High Sierra. I commented to The Man that this was the first hike in a long time where I actually sweated some. It was pretty warm.
After a quick lunch, we headed back down. The Man decided to cut brush with his loppers and asked me to go ahead of him so he wouldn't get carried away with brush clearing. I enjoyed a leisurely pace down to the Oak tree camp. The Man put away his loppers and we hurried down the trail. After a while we started jogging. We were losing the daylight on this short January day. But not the heat. It was still in the 70s and the running was making us sweat.
We really wanted to get back to the creek crossing of the Manzana creek before dark. The Man didn't want to try and cross the creek in the dark. Even with headlamps it can be hard to see the bottom and get a good footing. He sprained his ankle on Apache Peak last year and still has trouble now and then. He went to the emergency room three times last year. We joked often that he was gearing up for another trip, such as when he would slip on a loose boulder in one of the landslides or something. He didn't seem worried.
The Man said he really enjoys our solitary hikes. Nothing to worry about compared to the Sierra Club hikes where sometimes people will cause problems with bad decision-making or poor physical conditioning. We often go out half daring ourselves to get stuck somewhere. We never have, though. It's fun to be adventurous and tempt fate without worrying about the babysitting and liability blah blah blah of a group hike.
He was in such a good mood today. When he gets on the trail he becomes a different person. I got him to open up about retirement the other day. Turns out he's got enough money to retire. The only thing holding him back is health insurance. He's just holding out for medicare. That made me wonder. What about me? Am I going to have to work until I'm 62 because of health insurance? Normally I don't care about health insurance. When I was younger I was super poor and knew how to get free health care. Free clinics with the sliding scale. I always fell on the free side of the scale. Sometimes I could just tell a good sob story to a doctor and get free care. Not sure that works as well when you are 40+ as when you are 20+.
Anyway, I've planted little seeds in his head about doing more hiking, maybe traveling around in an RV or van. We could bring the birds. They couldn't go backpacking, although I think The Man thinks maybe they could. I don't think they could, but I know they could go camping. Years ago we took Ariel camping and she slept with me in my sleeping bag. It is really hard to sleep with a big giant bird on your arm. Even more years ago I went on a road trip in my VW van with my little parrot. She slept inside a plywood nestbox. I stuffed a sock in the round opening so she couldn't get out and I slept with the nestbox under my blankets in the back of my van.
I guess I feel a little better about working lately, like maybe there really is a light at the end of the tunnel, like maybe it is not so permanent. Could just be the weather makes me feel better. Or maybe that I've done more walking lately. Since I don't have my second job anymore, I'm back to walking to work. I haven't made any new shoes lately so I've walked after work, too.
I wore my hiking shoes on yesterday's Lost Valley hike. They worked pretty well but my feet slip around a bit and that started to annoy me after a while. I got an instructional CD for making unlasted shoes and want to try it. It includes instructions on how to make the pattern by wrapping your foot with tape, drawing the seam lines and then cutting the tape off your foot. You get a better fit. That's what I need. A better fit. Otherwise, the super wide, zero-drop, no arch-support thing seems to work out very well for me.