Tuesday, March 23, 2010

5th Training Hike - Indian Point March 21st, 2010

OK, I slacked off on my blogging duties due to a series of family events for a little while but I'm back now.

Finally - Rain, mud, and more rain! Now I feel like I'm in the Northwest! However, our training continued, wet or dry. It was the first chance for us to put our wet gear to the test and to gain some experience using the equipment in real conditions. We quickly found out that it didn't really matter if our rain jackets and pants were made of super-duper high tech breathable fabrics when the humidity was 10,000%. It also revalidated the importance of adjusting our layers religiously in order to keep our temperatures in check.

We gathered to hike Indian Point, another picturesque site along the Columbia River Gorge. It was actually a big arrow shaped rock that stuck out from a point that we didn't get to see on this hike as we were feeling very wet and kind of cold by the time we got to that point and couldn't wait to get back to the car. This hike was probably the most strenuous one among all the hikes we had done so far. The trail stretched over an 8.5 miles of loop that gained over 2,700 feet all within the first third. All the hiking guide books that I had looked at suggested to proceed on the loop in the opposite direction to ours. However we were thankful that we did not do that because it would have had us landing on our behinds many times descending down the very steep, muddy and slippery surface.

But the magical thing about this area was that, even though it poured pretty much non-stop the whole time, it provided us with the views in different light through the low scuds hugging the hill sides that was just as beautiful. Too bad that I was able to take no picture on this hike except one. I was kind of looking forward to firing up and using my brand new Costco special digital camera too.

I weighed my pack to about 35 lbs again. On our previous hike, I felt that this was a reasonable load that kept me challenged without killing myself. Marty Houston led the medium group I was in this time. Because the gate to the campground behind which the trail head was located was closed at the time, we parked on the side of the road by the gate and hiked up to it. After a potty break, we set off on the trail. It gradually started up gently to the bottom of a dozen or so switchbacks. From there the trail got significantly steeper. Even though we were well covered under the tree canopies pretty much the whole time, the rain relentlessly drove down on us and we were soaked inside and out by the time we took our gear check break after 15 minutes despite the high tech rain jackets and pants that promised to keep us dry. Of course the source of the moisture was not only the rain but also the steam we generated inside the rain garments as we hustled up the trail. One positive note - my hiking boots worked wonderfully in keeping my feet dry the entire time we were walking through the muddy mess. This was good not only because our feet were the most important equipment we had but also because it kept the level of our mumbling expletives to minimum.

I kept practicing rest step throughout this whole hike and I could tell it made a measurable difference in conserving my energy. After we were back to the parking area, I really felt like I would be able to go up and do it again. Not that that would have been a good idea, as that's just the sort of situations in which I typically got injured in the past.

On our past hikes, we would typically take a short lunch break once we reached the top but we were more eager to get back to the nice dry cabins of our cars than to eat soggy sandwiches. That's OK though - we made it up by making a stop at our usual beer and burger joint.

I missed our gear clinic which I really wanted to go to and the 6th Training Hike at Kings Mountain but a couple of us are organizing hikes on our own this coming holiday weekend, as Reach The Summit has no hikes scheduled. I will be hiking Saddle Mountain on the Coastal Range so please stay tuned!

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Online Raffle Ticket Sale!!

In an effort to reach my fundraising goal for the American Lung Association, I am having an online raffle ticket sale on the following items:
  • 1 new special made Titanium technical T-shirt (men's large, navy blue) from Columbia Sportswear Company with a Reach The Summit logo on the back. I have received this from the Reach The Summit program for reaching $500 total donation milestone and I am passing the chance to own it to you! - Minimum 3 tickets.

  • 1 new Cathedral Peak technical fleece vest (men's large, grey) from Columbia Sportswear Company I have received this from the Reach The Summit program for reaching $1000 total donation milestone and I am passing the chance to own it to you! - Minimum 3 tickets.

  • 1 unused Talus 23, a 3 season tent, from The North Face with a foot print. Click here to read about this tent. - Minimum 10 tickets.

  • 1 new signed copy of "Beyond the Limits: A Woman's Triumph on Everest" by Stacy Allison. I first met Stacy at our kickoff party in February, who was the first American woman to climb Mt. Everest. Click here to read more about Stacy Allison's incredible profile. - Minimum 5 tickets.

You can buy raffle tickets for $5/ticket until April 11th, 2010 11:59pm.

All proceeds will go to support the American Lung Association. Your name will appear in my sponsor list and you will receive a photo of me at the summit of Mt. Adams holding a special flag with your name on it among all my generous sponsors. SHOW THE WORLD YOU WENT THE DISTANCE WITH ME!!

It's easy to buy raffle tickets:

  1. Credit Card: Please Click here to go to my donation page and put in the total amount for your raffle ticket purchase. (Example: $50 if you are buying 10 raffle tickets.) In the Personal Note section, specify how many raffle tickets you want to put in for which item. (Example: "5 raffle tickets for the Columbia fleece vest") Then, click "Next" and follow the direction to complete the transaction.

  2. Check: Please make your check payable to the American Lung Association for the total amount of your raffle ticket purchase and mail to me at: Terry Tsubota, 2498 SW Schmidt Way #387, Beaverton, OR 97006. Be sure to attach a note specifying how many raffle tickets you want to put in for which item.

After April 11th, 2010, I will hold a drawing and announce the winners on this blog site!!!

For questions, please email me at HelpTerryClimb@gmail.com .

Thank you in advance and good luck!!!


Sunday, March 14, 2010

4th Training Hike - Mt Hood Govenment Camp Trails March 14th, 2010

We just kept on having the best luck on our training hikes - not warm and sunny this time!! And that's very good because we went to the southern foothill of Mt. Hood for a round of snowshoeing on this hike. There were numerous trails that meandered around the town of Government Camp covered with a blanket of fresh snow. (Click on the map on the left for a blowup of the map.) A week ago, we were all worried that there might not be enough snow and that it was going to be a muddy and miserable experience!! The condition was a lot better than we could have ever hoped for. We were to start our hike at the very western end of the Crosstown Trail, follow it up to Glade Trail, and go as high as we could until noon when we stopped for lunch.

Mercifully, the trail started this time almost flat or with very little incline if any for the first 20 minutes or so until we took our quick gear check. From there on, it got steeper and steeper as we gained elevation. It gave us a nice way to warm up and to get used to walking with those plastic planks strapped on our feet.

Almost everybody was using MSR's snowshoes which were two pieces of plastic boards with crampon teeth on the bottom and a set of bindings on the top. I had used them few time this season and had been very pleased with how they performed. The only complaints I'd had with MSR's snowshoes so far were that the bindings were not as easy to operate as, say, Tubbs' and that those plastic planks made rather loud clop clop noise. The noise issue probably wouldn't have been much of anything if only few of us were using MSR's but, when that many people were stomping on them, it made it kind of hard to have conversations at times.

But then, one of our training hike leaders, Daniel, in front of the group maintained our pace just fast enough to keep us panting at all time and therefore not yakking whole a lot anyway. I could feel that my effort to bike everyday had started to pay off a little though. Despite the increase in my pack weight from 23 lbs last time to about 35 lbs this time, and even though I was still pushing myself pretty hard, I felt like my comfort and confidence level had gone up a notch or two since we started our training hikes. I have to remember to take the side shield off my glacier glasses before our next hike as they kept fogging up every time we stopped.

In the steeper section near the end of the uphill hike, I wanted to try to practice a little a climbing technique called rest step that would give the leg muscles a momentary relief each step while climbing. I wish I could find a video clip online to show what it looks like though. Put simply, the technique goes something like this: Take a step. Straighten that leg and lock the knee. As you move to take the next step, place the weight of your entire body on the locked bone structure of your back leg. As you swing your leg forward to take the next step relax the muscles in that leg. Though our faster pace made it a little difficult to do that, it seemed to have made the slug a bit less slug like once I got the rhythm down. I am hoping that they would teach us how to do this properly when we go back to Mt. Hood for our climbing clinic in April. I have always thought this was an easy yet very effective way to conserve energy. It could make our climbs a lot more enjoyable for everyone.

By the time we took our lunch break around noon, we had gone from 3,600' at the trail head to several hundred feet below the Timberline Lodge, about 5,200' or so. One of the training hike leaders said that that was the highest they've gone on any Mt. Hood training hike. We probably started around 10:15am so that was a pretty good pace considering we were snowshoeing. We picked relatively a flat spot off the side of the trail and started devouring our lunches. My standard meal had always consisted of salami, cheese, trail mix, and dried fruits since we started training. They always tasted ten times better in the woods but I think I will try to come up with a little more variations for the future hikes. TMI: I was reminded by the dark color of my pee that I needed to increase my water intake. It's so easy to slack off on hydrating on the trail. Not good. Steve, another training hike leader and also a physician, said that he would usually drink about 8 quarts of water on a day of hiking.

We probably scared the people at the restaurant when we showed up like a pack of wild animals drawn to the smell of a wounded prey with our fangs showing and our eyes glaring. It's funny that I had never noticed this place in Government Camp though. It's not like there were much other choices. In any event, we needed to replace the calories we had just burnt and that we did. I have a feeling we will be ready to eat our own guts and ask for seconds by the time our big days come.

Friday, March 12, 2010

Making of An Outdoor Geek, Part 3

But then, why would we need any more money?? We'd got everything covered after all. Subtracting $39 ($13/person/night x 3) from the money we had, we still had 63 cents.!! It ought to be fine. Why wouldn't it??

Next, we needed to make a packing list.
  • Duffel bags (Substitute them with the "sports bags" that were popular among the grade schoolers for carrying school supplies back and forth. They were fairly water resistant too.)
  • Wool blankets (I snatched mine from the linen closet.)
  • A Tent (we didn't have one. Improvise it with ponchos if it rains.)
  • Ponchos (Funny that was fairly common back then.)
  • Change of cloths (Whatever we each had had to do it. No, no high tech $400 The North Face stuff back then.)
  • 4 days worth of food (We'd see what we could find in our respective mothers' pantries.)
  • A map (I had already "borrowed" it from the dining room in my house.)
  • Matches (There were plenty of them in my house. My dad smoked practically anything he could light.)
  • Pots and pans (I'd have to see what I could find in my mom's kitchen.)
  • The comic book (Couldn't forget that. In case we needed to refer to it for what to do.)
  • A point-n-shoot camera (I knew where my mom put hers.)
  • A rope (Not sure why we'd need it but since the kid in the comic book carried it, we'd take one.)
  • A can opener (Good idea!)
  • Flashlights & spare batteries (Self explanatory)

I think that was about it. We'd cram all this stuff in our bicycle saddle bags (Oddly, kids' bicycles in Japan back then typically came with some sorts of saddle bags that straddled the rack in the rear.) and the sports bags strapped on the back our bicycles with bungee cords.

To be continued...

Monday, March 8, 2010

3rd Training Hike - Mt. Hamilton Loop March 7th, 2010

This is getting almost unreal - great weather, sunny with scattered clouds, yet again - three weekends in a row!!! I thought this was the Northwest but we'd take all we could take!!

This time, we gathered once again to hike Mt. Hamilton loop this time. The trail started out near Beacon Rock, another picturesque site along the Columbia River Gorge on Washington side, gradually northward for few miles until a couple of series of somewhat steep switch backs took us to the top of Mt. Hamilton concluding the 2000' vertical gain. From there, we'd take the path going around and down the back side of Mt. Hamilton rejoining the lower part of the trail we went up on earlier. All together the hike was about 9 miles but many of us thought it went quicker than we had thought.

I think there were few reasons why it seemed that way. For one thing, there were so many stunning sites along the trail that had gorgeous water fall views and expansive panorama of the Columbia Gorge, letting us take our minds off the strenuousness from time to time. Also, for me, hiking with the intermediate group rather than the fast group helped me tremendously to enjoy the hike better as it didn't feel like I was in a triathlon tryout.

Nevertheless, I felt like my heart was going to pop out of my rib cage for the first 10 to 20 minutes or so until the first gear check break. Then it would get a lot easier all of sudden. In fact, I am starting to think this might be my new normal pattern. My pack weight came in at about 23 lbs this time which felt very comfortable. Note to myself - I need to add back few more pounds though. These are training hikes after all. I'd also like to think that my effort to ride my bicycle to run errands, etc. for at least an hour or so each day for the week before contributed to making some of the difference.

I also have to credit Bob, our Training Hike Leader, who was very conscious about keeping the tab on how the group was doing and judiciously stopped the group for breaks not only as our chances to catch our breaths but also as opportunities for us to practice the basic skills like taking on and off our packs, temperature control through adding or removing layers, keeping our level of hydration in check, taking small calorie intakes through out the hike, and not sitting around too long, which all might sound simple but would be important when our big days came. During one of the breaks, Eva, another Training Hike Leader hiking in our group, gave us very helpful insights on energy boosting products available on the market and also on how to use our trecking poles.

I am starting to better shape my non-hike training stuff to fit my daily schedule. So far, I have come up with plans for two of the three parts, aerobic/anaerobic training, flexibility/core strength/balance training (also injury prevention), and strength training at least to start with.

As I mentioned earlier, I started using my bicycle to go everywhere as much as possible. This has saved me from having to set aside an hour or so every day just to do aerobic/anaerobic stuff by replacing some of the time I would otherwise spend in my car. The only minor draw back, I have come to be reminded, has been that the traffic law is somewhat optional in nature to some drivers and I'd best not get flattened if at all possible. On the very first day when I took out my bicycle out for a trial run, I narrowly escaped getting T-boned by a Fast-n-Furious who sped through a stop sign with a phone buried in his ear.

Regardless of the Reach The Summit program, yoga has become an important part of my daily life in the recent months. Yoga has really helped me develop my better flexibility, core strength, and balance that are important in preventing injuries, which is as important as getting fit - it would really s#$k if I had to abort my climb after all this. In fact, it got to the point where, if I did't get to do yoga for few days, I would almost feel like I hadn't washed my hair or something for a couple of days. Bicycling a half an hour each way to and from the yoga studio has also been an added bonus. (Who thought that would ever be considered a "bonus"?)

The part I need to weave into my program is the strength training. I am toying with the idea of checking out a climbing gym as a part of it. Based on my past history, I know that I wouldn't last very long if the activities were repetitive and boring so I need to do things that are actually fun and challenging at the same time. I think trying out sport climbing would fit that category well. It would also be something new for me to do since most of my past climbing experiences were in alpine settings when I was very young. (More about this later in my series, "Making of An Outdoor Geek".) Besides, it would be something similar to what we will be doing this summer. Can anybody give me a good input on sport climbing?

As always, getting to the top was a satisfying moment for all of us accomplishing another small step towards reaching our ultimate summits. The wind was surprisingly calm and we actually had to take off the layers we had just put on not too long before. We savored the moment in this amazing weather as we chewed our lunches. 15 minutes or so later, the "endurance" group was arriving and it was time for us to start descending after our kodak moments. It's funny that it seemed like it took longer to go down than to go up - looking at the map, that might have been actually the case, in distance at least.

We congratulated ourselves afterwards at a bar/restaurant type near our meetup point with the highest caloric looking sandwiches we could find on our menus and generous pours of the locally brewed beverages for good measures.

Friday, March 5, 2010

Making of An Outdoor Geek, Part 2

Now that we had the issues surrounding our accomodation costs all figured out, it was time to call the hostel and make a reservation. The question was - which night?? There were going to be three nights on this trip.

To figure that out, we started guestimating how long it would take for us to get to the hostel at our destination, the big lake at the western end of Tokyo. 50 miles might not sound like much but we had to take into consideration it was going to be all uphill pretty much all the way after about 15 miles. Not to mention the heavy weight of the bicycle rig and the rather mountaineous topography of the western Tokyo. Not like in European Alps but sort of like in Virginia. But I was confident we should be able to comfortablly do it in two days at most. So we decided to call the hostel to make a reservation for the second night.

Ring, ring, .....
"Hi, I'd like to make a reservation."
"For which night?" "Two weeks from today."
"For how many?" "Three."
"How old are you??" "...uh... fifteen..." Liar!!
"OK. It's gonna be $15/person/night."
"Huh? Well, I saw $10/person/night in my guide book." "Oh, yeah.. That's changed."
("@#$%!!!") "..$13 a night is all we can do."
"Fine." Click.

This was a problem. It was good that we managed to have our second night covered at the hostel but this also meant we would have barely a dollar in our collective pockets altogether after our accomodation costs.

To be continued...

Status: Early Bird Contest

The Early Bird Contest ended yesterday on 03/04/10. Thank you!!! - Wu & Susan, Marty & Janet, Stacey, Lynda & Rob, Jim, Valerie, Mat, Diana, Scott & Teanna, Sharona, Craig, Fred, Bank of America (Matching Gift), Maria, Barry, and Al & Gwen.

I will hold a drawing from the 15 entries and announce on this blog site the winner of the special flag that I will be carrying to the summit of Mt. Adams. This flag will bare the names of all my generous sponsors like you who stepped forward to go the distance with me to support the American Lung Association.

I plan to run more fundraisers such as ruffle ticket drawings (online), etc. in the near future so please stay tuned!!

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Re-commitment Letter

Signed and delivered:

"I am fully committed to the Reach The Summit Team and accept the financial
responsibility of my commitment to turn in the required donations for my climb
to the American Lung Association by June 1, 2010. If I am unable to raise the
required amount, I am authorizing the American Lung Association to charge the
credit card below for the difference after June 1st, 2010."

There, done! I just delivered today my re-commitment letter to Jennifer, the head honcho of the Reach The Summit program, which was due this coming Friday. Now it's truly official!!

Worried? NO!! Have I thought about backing out? ABSOLUTELY NOT!!! You stepped forward to go the distance with me - It sincerely is my privilege to represent you in this awesome program and to take it to the summit.

I have been totally overwhelmed and encouraged by the gracious sponsorship and support of my friends like you. It has been only just over a month since I first sent out my first appeal letters and I have already received $1,140 (as of 03/02/10) out of the $3000 I have pledged. I have no words to describe my appreciation. Thank you!

I am making this re-commitment not only as a financial one to the American Lung Association but also as a token of my promise to you and Joe to continue to work hard to reach my goal and the summit of Mt. Adams with my fellow climbers.