July 5th – July 11th
Let’s state the obvious and say that I am writing the post about two weeks too late. I have determined two things: writing is hard; and, having self-discipline around writing is even harder. I COULD say that part of my delinquency with writing is due to the fact that I am being very active and social with my time in Montana, and putting away a significant chunk of time for writing is a challenge; but I could also admit that I chose to teach myself how to make Bavarian pretzels instead. (Did you know that you can make baking soda more alkaline if you bake it at 300 degrees for an hour? Did you know that pretzels have that amazing brown crust because they are DIPPED IN LYE before being baked? Lastly, did you know that dipping your pretzels in baked baking soda instead of lye will result in the crust of your pretzels foaming when it comes into contact with some amazing mustard just like when you mixed baking soda and vinegar when you were a kid?) Foaming pretzels are not my #1 choice, but I tried.
In truth, this post is late because I simply did not write it; and as Amy Poehler (and a few others, I am sure) says in “Yes, Please,” the doing it is the thing.
BUT ANYWAY, here is what my second week of training looked like:
*Please do take note of the extremely official language I am attempting to use while creating these tables.*
This week was a bit confuddled (real word). Katie got my ass out of bed at 6:00 am on Tuesday to go up the M with her. She promised she would buy me a croissant if I came with her so that she could get a hike in before she had to go to work. I’m not saying no to a croissant, especially when it’s from The Wild Crumb.
We ascended to the M (which you will remember from my first week of training) via the “hardest” route. It’s half a mile of almost vertical incline on gravel and slated rock, so yeah, it’s not the easiest. It is, however, short. Katie, who comes in at about 25 pounds fewer than me and has legs for days manages to skip up this like the little mountain goat that she is while I concentrate on breathing and stopping every few minutes to check if I actually have managed to bust through my maximum heart rate. As you can see noted above, my max heart rate did come to 168, so goal achieved!
Also, just because I know that you are all DYING to know, this is what a ham and gruyere croissant from the Wild Crumb looks like:
Also please note that Katie has inherited the McCahan family talent for facial contortions.
I was apparently feeling like a bit of a max heart rate junkie that Tuesday because (after I napped, because I was feeling tired and I’m retired) I followed up our short morning hike with a run that blew the roof off my target max. heart rate into the blue fire zone of 169 bpms and above. This was not a fun run.
Wednesday, however, was fun.
My aunt owns and rides a horse here in MT named Belle. She is one of the sweetest little mares on the planet, she’s beautiful, and she is hella lazy, which also makes her a fairly safe horse to ride. The first time I got on Belle, she knew that I was more than stupid about what I was supposed to do. I would be nudging her and nudging her to go forward, pulling higgledy-piggledy on the reigns, and she would just stand there, waiting for me to give up. I started taking lessons on Belle with my aunt’s riding teacher Laurie. Laurie is amazing. She’s the long haired, Montana-raised, horse ridin’, strait talkin’ lady who you want to play your exotic Western mentor in the Nora Roberts version of your life in which you (an up-tight Easterner) learn a whole lot of life lessons from these salt-of-the-earth, rancher-type people. Laurie says “crick” instead of “creek,” has a horse named “Doug,” and always greets me with a “There’s Molly!” like it’s always a wonderful surprise to see me.
She also doesn’t let you hold anything back when it comes to horse riding.
I’m certainly no horse-expert, but I would say that I have come a long way since then. AS SHOWN BY THIS PICTURE OF ME RIDING BELLE WHILE PLAYING A MINI GUITAR THAT I AM MORE THAN HAPPY TO BRAG ABOUT. (don’t end a sentence with a preposition- jeez!)
Now when I ride Belle, I know enough of the basics that I can shift my concentration to the more subtle aspects of riding. You have to be SO aware and engaged and strong with your WHOLE body. An hour of riding with Laurie will make the sweat pour off your head and your thighs very tender the next day. I took a nap after my lesson, as one does.
Thursday saw the start of weight being added to my hikes. Claire had the day off so I got her to come with me to walk from Sypes Canyon to the College M. Are we seeing a pattern here? I really like the Bridgers. They are close and they have great hiking.
Hiking up Sypes with Claire proved that hiking is much easier for me when I have a friend along. It’s absolutely a mental thing. Claire distracts me from the physical struggle and thinking about how far I have to go with her scintillating conversation, and I don’t feel so freaked out about mountain lions.
Sypes has a nice steep uphill at the beginning of the walk, which then evens out as you follow the creek through the canyon. You then hike up switchbacks to the canyon’s ridge line where you get to overlook Bozeman.
The trail then continues up the canyon ridge towards Baldy Mountain and the rest of the Bridger peaks until it reaches a cairn and a fork in the road. We took the way away from Baldy, Southwards toward the M. This is the Bridger Recreation Trail that runs the extent of the Bridgers below the ridge.
You have to descend quite far down the other side of the canyon before hiking another 300 ft back up into mountain meadows that look like this:
This hike required us to drop off one car at the M and drive another to the trailhead so that, at the end of the hike, you can then drive back to trailhead car and go home. Halfway down the otherside of the canyon, I had a vision of Claire’s car keys sitting in the side pocket of my car back at the Sypes trailhead. I stopped, turned to her, and asked, “Do you have your keys?” It only took a moment for her to stop, contemplate, and confidently say, “NOPE.”
We were luckily within cell phone range, so we immediately called Mary and begged her to save us when we got out of the woods. She did, indeed, come pick up Claire so she could go get the other car. I waited at the M with the dog for Claire to come back and get me. I pretty immediately fell asleep under the shade of a willow tree, because THE FATIGUE HAS SET IN, MY FRIENDS. I am tired all the time from all this training and socializing and being awesome stuff.
The not-so-awesome part of this story is that I then left my trekking poles at the trailhead after I fell asleep, and they disappeared without a trace. That’s what you get when you don’t pay attention. CONSTANT VIGILANCE! (To use an important lesson from Madeye Moody. Thanks, J.K.!)
Finally, after a day of rest, Saturday saw us back into the saddle when I went up Mt. Sacajawea with Claire and our friends, Jessie and Matt.
“Sac,” as we call it for short, begins the drive from Bridger Canyon Road up a forest service road to Fairy Lake. This road can be ultra harsh, and you kind of need a hardy off-roading vehicle to get up there. If you can, it’s very entertaining to scream “COW!” at all the grazing steer to see if they look at you as you pass.
Once you get up to the lake, the summit of Sac is relatively very close, but the ascent is still a bit devastating. It’s a good thing that it’s only 2.5 miles to the top, because my heart rate peaked in the blue fire zone once again (that is to say, beyond my max heart rate goal for training). This is all well and good because we rewarded ourselves with authentic italian pizza at Pizza Campagna and glasses of wine, after which I took yet another hardy nap. Funnily enough, EXERCISE+WINE=NAP TIIIIIME!
Sunday marked the start of our backpacking trip in the Beartooths, but more on that later. I leave you with an obligatory tree-pose-atop-a-mountain pic!