This past weekend, I went hiking after ages. I usually like hiking and now, as added motivation, I am "training" to become more fit. This week's training turned out to be a whole lot of fun :-)!
The weather on the day of the hike was super awesome. This is no exaggeration. How else can you describe weather where the sun is shining brightly, yet it is not hot - only pleasantly warm. In fact, so pleasant that you could go on a 6-mile moderately difficult hike without sweating (even without tying up your shoulder-length hair). These are the times I really don't mind California's absurdly high cost of living :-).
Six of us, the male-folk C, E and V and the female-folk, L, A and me had planned to go on the hike. The destination was Castle Rock State Park near Saratoga. The hiking trail by itself was very pretty. But I think the best part of the trip was all the "rock-climbing" we did. This post is mostly about that.
Though rock-climbing hadn't really been a part of our original plans, since the trail we went on offered plenty of opportunities for amateur rock-climbing, we decided to try our hands (and feet :-)) at it.
The first rock we tried seemed too smooth at its base to climb. But further investigation showed that there were some handholds and footholds. I have an irrational fear of heights (especially when climbing) but I did manage to scramble up the rock successfully with instructions from C, E and V. Once I got to the top, I was so scared of falling down that I stuck like a lizard to one of the depressions on the rock and refused to even lift my head to see the view from the top. Finally, I did manage to stand up - ah, lovely view :-)!
So going up turned out to be okay after all. However, coming down was a whole new ball game. Remember the smooth base? Well, I managed to get till there fine. Then I realized that I had run out of leg holds and was hanging like a bat (upright though) with my hands only. So I cried out "I am falling - help!" to C and V who had already climbed down.
C and V asked me to hold on with my hands while they held my ankles. And then, I started to slowly slide down the rock face, maneuvering with my hands while C and V guided my feet. So far so good. At that point, I decided that I ought say my thanks to C and V. So I went "Thank you so much."
Unfortunately, C and V took my thank-you as a sign that I was done with their help and that I could manage on my own from that point and let go of my ankles. Of course, since I had been heavily relying on their support, the next moment, I slid down all the rest of the way with about as much grace as a sack of coals being dumped into a coal-chute. And with a big thump, landed my behind on the ground in front of the rock :-(.
But the whole situation was so funny that I promptly burst out laughing. In spite of my smarting behind, there was one good side effect: from that point, I stopped being over-cautious about climbing and instead just got into the spirit of the thing and was clambering wherever I could :-)!
The actual Castle Rock destination (which was a detour from the trial we had taken) had tons of climbable rocks filled with nooks and caves. I felt like a character in an Enid Blyton story as we explored the various caves and holes. We could not spend as much time as we would have liked there though - it was getting dark even for a long summer evening and it was time to leave.
At the end of the day, the climbing rankings stood as follows:
First place: Without doubt, E! He seriously needs to consider applying for the post of the next spiderman. He ran up the first rock. Yes, even up the smooth base. The jaws of all people who were watching him hit the ground after seeing that performance.
Second place: V. He would have given E some more competition if he had had proper shoes.
Third place: C. He was not as adventurous as E and V but whatever he did climb, he climbed with all the ease of taking a walk in the park.
Consolation prize: Me :-)! I was actually the baseline. If I climbed any place before C,V and E, they would not even do any kind of study before climbing it too. The motto being "If Archana can do it, of course we all can" :-(! Oh well, I at least tried :-)!
*E and A did not do as much climbing as the rest.
p.s.1 I realized how much of a boon a good pair of hiking shoes can be, even for climbing. The grip they offered was simply unbelievable.
p.s.2 This place is a must-see. If you are interested, this website has the directions on how to get there as well as how to navigate the trail that we took. From any of the cities in the south bay, it should not take more than 30-45 minutes to get to the trail-head.
p.s.3 Surprisingly, I was not too sore post-hiking. Only my ankles complained with noticeable vigour.