Monday, May 30, 2016

Alors, I resume…

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Mt. Baldy hike, April 24
Eastside Road, May 29, 2009—
IT HAS BEEN a long time since my last post here. One of the recent distractions has been my resumption of walking. Last month I began serious training, for a Long Walk I'm taking with my daughter Thérèse next Saturday, June 4 — a twenty-miler in and around the town of Sonoma, led by a local historian who will point out interesting sites en route. I look forward to this walk with mixed emotions: it will be mostly flat; much of it will be on pavement; it begins at 5:30 am (and that an hour's drive from home!); it is forecast to be hot weather.

I try to walk every other day, at least a mile, preferably more. A one-mile walk is easily done right here at home: Up past my lamentable "vineyard," then through the gate to the water tank, around the tank field, back to the other gate up to the ridge pasture, up to the ridge, down to the back fence, back to the ridge, and home. If I add a trip to the mailbox, that's another third of a mile and another couple of hundred feet of dénivèlement — total up-and-down elevation change (isn't there an English word for this?).

In addition to not blogging, I haven't been keeping a very good journal lately. I think my first training walk was April 12, as described just now, a total of 45 minutes. On April 18 I walked into Windsor, our nearest town, 4.3 miles, in an hour. That's not the pleasantest walking, as it's nearly all on our country road which has a fair amount of traffic. Still, the air is good, the views very nice, and there's a pleasant café at the end. I repeated that walk on April 21.

April 24, Sunday, Thérèse and I took a longer walk, say five hours, about eight miles with 3000 feet dénivèlement, on the flanks of Mt. Baldy, in the Sonoma valley. That was a glorious day, with quite a few wildflowers and long long vistas. Three days later I walked into Healdsburg, our local "city": eight mles, flat, on country roads; two hours.

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At Armstrong Woods (photo: Mac Marshall)
Then, on April 30, a seven-mile loop involving some serious scrambling with Mac, my buddy from the 2008 Alpwalk, on a loop around Armstrong Woods. I'd done it a month earlier, that same loop, seven miles, 2700 feet of dénivèlement, and wanted to see how my training was paying off. Not well: I slipped on loose gravel on a steep descent, fell, broke my fall with my right ringfinger, and dislocated it.

That hasn't kept me from continuing. I take two-mile walks around the pond across the road — a four-mile round trip from home. Three weeks ago Thérèse and I took a fine long ramble down to the Laguna de Santa Rosa, a fourteen-miler that took seven hours with a half hour off for lunch — a glorious day. There've been more walks in to Windsor and Healdsburg, and today a hike out at the coast: almost nine miles, 2800 feet dénivèlement, three and a half hours.

We left the car at Goat Rock Beach, walked a couple of miles along the coast on level ground, through typical beachfront vegetation and past weathered rock polished in some places, they say, Thérèse explained, by mammoths, many thousands of years ago. At Shell Beach we turned inland, climbing steeply up toward Red Hill. We didn't bother with summiting; there was enough haze in the air to leave us satisfied with the long views we had from the shoulder.

I'd taken a delicious sandwich — salami and lettuce on buttered bread — and a hardboiled egg. After a twenty-minute lunch break we hiked back. The country was mostly open, but punctuated by a couple of marvelous redwood stands and a very dark fir grove. It was a fine walk. I hope to get two more long walks in this week, before the Saturday ordeal.

All this is leading up to something…

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(photo: Thérèse Shere)