Tag: Hiking

A Year of Tahoma

A Year of Tahoma

One of my goals for 2022 is to explore Tahoma (Mount Rainier) every month of the year. Why? Because Tahoma is my favorite place to hike and yet I tend to go to the same places over and over. There’s nothing wrong with that: I hope I get to Burroughs Mountain to see the alpine flowers every year I can.

When I did some research, I found an excellent site by Shawn Hargreaves with the handy name of Hiking Tahoma. Shawn is a kindred spirit, he’s laid out a clever interactive map of all the maintained trails on Tahoma. I am now studying what to explore over the year. A few trails that I need to try out: Boundary Trail to Florence Peak, Camp Muir, Eagle Peak, Eastside PCT Loop, Klapatche Park, Northern Loop, South Puyallup Pipe Organ and Tamanos Mountain. I also want to get back to some lesser known trails such as Curtis Ridge. So many hikes, so little time. I feel a need to focus on Tahoma. Along with hiking, I aspire to observe and understand the natural history on each of my hikes.

Meanwhile, I did make it to Tahoma on 27 January, 2022. My friend Mike and I had a great day on the mountain. We snowshoed about 5 km (3 miles) with about 400 meters (1400 ft) of elevation gain. As you can see from the photo, we had nice weather. In fact, it was much nicer up here than in the cold, foggy Puget Trough thanks to a temperature inversion. It was a four volcano day: Tahoma, Adams, Hood, and Mount St Helens were all visible. If you look near the upper right corner, I think you can see the road where we started far below.

I was able to see a few plants and trees along the way. Here are my naturalist observations for 24 January 2022. My plant of the day was a patch of common juniper growing in a rocky, windswept areas at 2000 meter (6600 feet). This was our lunch spot.

We worked pretty hard heading up. Coming down , we were able to get in a couple of glissades ( in other words, slide on our butts in the snow done some steep slopes). After some hard work, I was happy to stop at the Copper Creek Restaurant and see WE HAVE PIES. Specifically, delicious blackberry pie. Hmm, there may have been ice cream as well.

Ten Years of Walking

Ten Years of Walking

“Chains of habit are too light to be felt until they are too heavy to be broken.”

Warren Buffett

I’ve got a habit. I walk, hike and run a fair amount every day. Perhaps my favorite activity is to hike – at some speed between a trot and a gallop. I also love numbers and have used a pedometer to keep track of my miles walked each day for the last ten years: 2012 to 2021. I made spreadsheets each year and have looked at the data trends over each week and each month of a year. This is an update from my previous post Quantifying Hiking and Running Part 1 with eight years of data.

Thus, I have now accumulated ten years of walking data:

Table 1: Yearly Mileage
Year Miles Age
2021 3001 63
2020 4347 62
2019 3174 61
2018 3387 60
2017 3286 59
2016 2754 58
2015 3117 57
2014 3008 56
2013 2634 55
2012 2470 54

Table 1 shows the sum of my walking (in miles) for each month of the last ten years:

YearJanFebMarAprMayJunJulAugSepOctNovDecYear Total
20212592332802272413422382592362402122343001
20202352202612834905895806072632512683004347
20193012412892422382502732692762802742423175
20183182713152523043152723382293012402323387
20172562962982592862952882832142912812403287
20161871881932152062252382672673052691942754
20152452582602442662812473062552502372693118
20142242112392062122532823022652672752733009
20132101902082292432382562202212091992112634
20121472011841922422382451902002132022142470
Average2382312532352733032923042432612462413118
Table 1: Miles walked per month, 2012 to 2021

I also like to see the cumulative amount I have walked each month over the course of a year. Table 2 summarizes my walking progress each month over the course of a year:

YearJanFebMarAprMayJunJulAugSepOctNovDec
202125949277299912401582182020792315255527673001
202023545571699914892078265832653528377940474347
2019301542831107313111561183421032379265929333175
2018318589904115614601775204723852614291531553387
2017256552850110913951690197822612475276630473287
20161873755687839891214145217191986229125602754
2015245503763100712731554180121072362261228493118
201422443567488010921345162719292194246127363009
201321040060883710801318157417942015222424232634
20121473485327249661205145016401840205322552470
31182Total
Table 2: Cumulative Miles Walked per Month, 2012 to 2021

The total over ten years is 31,182 miles or 50,186 km. That’s an average of 260 miles or 418 km a month.

A few things worth pointing out:

First, I had my biggest walking year in 2020 – during the COVID pandemic I walked 4347 miles (6996 km). The reason for this high mileage was I entered the Great Virtual Race Across Tennessee 1000K race. In this four month long virtual race, I covered 1907 miles ( 3069 km) from May through August. Another way I covered miles in 2020 was by walking and running every street in my town. One reason I covered many miles was to see what it would be like to hike the Appalachian Trail – a goal of mine that I thought I might do in 2020 or 2021.

Next, for six years I covered was in the 3000 mile (3001-3387 mi; 4829-5451 km) range. I first broke 3000 miles in 2014 and again in 2015. I was able to cover more than 3000 miles again from 2017 to the present. I started trail running in 2017. I was able to complete the Badger Mountain 50 mile race; it was slow and steady. Another 2017 challenge was finishing the Issy Alps 50k, that was far tougher than the Badger Mountain race for me.

In 2018, I tried twice to run 100 mile races: Badger Mountain 100 (69 miles) and Bryce Canyon 100 (81 miles). While I didn’t complete them, I learned much. I still think I may do a 100 mile distance,, however, my current thought would be to walk rather than run. From 2017 to the present, I have had some great hiking, fastpacking and backpacking adventures with my friends.

My favorite year was 2015. I achieved no major milestones in running, backpacking or hiking. What I did accomplish was to recover from surgery on my esophagus to treat achalasia, a rare disease that I have. Achalasia has been a challenge for me. There is no cure or much known about the disease. Thanks to the work of my medical team, lead by thoracic surgeon Dr. Brian Louie, I was able to return to a vigorous life. My view going forward after my January, 2015 surgery has been “carpe diem, quam minimum credula postero” (“Seize the day, put very little trust in the future.”) As an achalasia patient, I am grateful to be able to explore the world by covering as many miles as I can.

I had some low mile years. Why? For 2012 and 2013, the answer was full-time work got in the way of walking. I was able to retire from full-time work in September, 2013. I did some part-time work in 2014 and 2015 as well as attending college to learn biology, From 2016 to the present, I have been active in volunteer work at some non-profits but have much more time to spend outdoors.

My worst year was 2016. It wasn’t the lowest mile year but it was the most annoying. I kept injuring my right knee, then my right hip, then my left knee, then my right knee. I think there were two things that caused these problems. I was running a lot on hard surfaces ( I was training to run the Philadelphia Marathon with my brother). More important, the muscles of my right knee were much weaker than my left knee – which I figured out with the help of my doctor in December, 2016. So, after 2016 I minimized running on hard surfaces, started strength training and switched from cushioned shoes to zero drop trail running shoes. The important lesson for me: Avoid injuries if you want to cover miles.

Figure 1: Cumulative monthly miles for selected years 2012, and 2018 to 2021

Figure 1 illustrates how I’ve done over the last ten years. The bottom set of points are from 2012; my lowest mileage year. The top set of points are for 2020; my highest mileage year. There are three sets of data in a range in between the lowest and highest. These are years 2018, 2019, and 2020.

I want to write in the future about my daily tracking methods – many times the fact that I was behind my goal got me motivated to do more miles. What I do every single day is how I cover many miles in a year. Another useful topic is how walking has affected my health; in general it’s been very positive but I ought to write my lessons learned.

Let me close by thanking all my friends and family who have put in miles with me. I always enjoy the company; hopefully you do as well. Of course, sometimes I have an excessive number of words per mile! Well, I have to dash off now; got a few miles to cover today.

Which is the best place for hiking?

Me at the snout of Carbon Glacier, Mount Rainier, 2012

For me, it’s Mount Rainier National park, a large volcano of the Cascade volcano chain in North America. Why?

  1. I have been hiking here for 43 years, since I was a teenager. I have seen changes occur over the years: ice caves have closed, floods have occurred, roads have closed.
  2. My family and friends have had many great days on this mountain. I’ve never had anyone regret spending time here.
  3. Next, I have spent a good chunk of my life learning the flora, fauna, geology and ecology of this mountain region. There’s always something new to learn here.
  4. It’s also fairly easy for me to access. In fact, the local Cascade and Olympic mountains are why I live near Seattle, Washington.
  5. Exploring here is never boring. I have spent much of my time exploring the alpine areas above 2000 meters. There are also dense forests. fast moving rivers, lakes and many wonderful places. While not a mountaineer, I climbed the heavily glaciated 4392 meter summit in 2011.
  6. Finally, it’s just a place I love.

For each of us the answer’s going to be different. How would you answer this question?

PS – This was an answer I wrote on Quora, slightly edited, to this question:
https://www.quora.com/Which-is-the-best-place-for-hiking