After battling the elements for the first week of January we were finally able to get out with the hiking club for a decent hike this week. We have a club meeting every Monday morning to discuss where we’d like to go each week, and this time we decided to head to the Miner’s Needle loop on Wednesday. We were on this hike almost exactly a year ago, and you can read about it here. It’s a relatively long hike of 9.5 miles, or more depending on who’s GPS you believe, with 1500 feet of elevation to be traversed. Sylvia has a new Activity Tracker that I got her for her Birthday and it said she accomplished 27000 steps and 11.5 miles over the course of the entire day.
Historically the club has done this loop in a counter clockwise direction, as it allows some folks to attempt a shorter less difficult hike, as an alternative, before turning around when the difficult climbing begins. This route leaves the very last part of the long hike as a steep rocky downhill section that we’ve come to call Cardiac Hill. Sylvia piped up at the meeting and wondered if anyone would like to do this trip in the opposite direction to avoid the challenge of Cardiac Hill when we’re all sore and tired at the end of the hike. Her proposal involved tackling the steep climb first and then supposedly coasting downhill all the way back. Or something like that anyway. Not many people seemed to be interested in this route at the meeting, but by the time Wednesday rolled around we had 16 of us going Clockwise and about 14 going the traditional route.
The morning started out crisp and clear, but not terribly warm yet. It wasn’t a bad day for hiking though.
Before long we were high above the parking area and soon lost sight of our vehicles.
We thought we might be able to see the other group below us in Barkley Basin, but we never saw them again until we crossed paths near the mid point of the hike.
All the recent rains have left substantially more water in the desert than last year, and we had to cross over the various creeks on our route several times. There were a few wet boots in our group including mine after slipping on a supposedly stable boulder.
We even got a nice view of a waterfall on Barks Creek which was all but bone dry last year.
No matter where we go, there are always interesting rock formations to be seen. The discussion about this particular one seemed to conclude that it was some sort of elephant. Or maybe an angel. Or whatever you might think it looks like. It could well be that we were just walking too long in the bright sun.
We stopped for pictures at the saddle above the basin where I managed to stay far enough away from the cameras that you can’t really see the bandages. We look like a happy bunch don’t we?
The day stayed clear and sunny and we had a great time with the newly named Clockwise Group.
We finally reached Miner’s Needle and walked around it and back into the basin for the last part of our trek.
If anyone sees a St Bernard or Winnie the Pooh in this group of rocks let me know so I can stop blaming my delusions on the desert air.
We were exhausted but happy when we finished the hike. It was definitely a challenge for us, as we really haven’t done as much hiking this year as we wanted to due to the cold and wet weather, but we’re starting to get our legs in shape. We weren’t too active the next day, as we didn’t have the energy for Pickleball or even any dancing at the Happy Hour, but we were not the only ones. One of our fellow hikers was so worn out that he went to bed at 7:30. Although part of the reason for that is that he’s managed to pick up a bit of the cold and flu that seems to be an annual part of life here in the Senior’s Illness Incubation Centre (SIIC) that is Canyon Vistas RV Park.
In other news, we’ve had to put up with 3 days of comments along the lines of ‘What did Sylvia do to you?’ or ‘That’s what you get for not listening to your wife!’ due to the rather unfortunate look of my face after Monday’s softball incident. As the swelling and colour returns to normal, hopefully the comments will slow down, as Sylvia’s starting to get a complex about all the good natured accusations.
After a day’s rest we’re back into the Pickleball mode, and we plan on playing a bunch over the weekend in the relatively nicer weather. It’s still only hitting the mid 60’s by the late afternoon here, but that’s not bad when it’s sunny.
I’ve had a few questions asked of us about the effect of the exchange rate this year. The 40+% difference in the Loonie and the US$ is definitely something that we feel, and has definitely pulled us out of the market regarding any major purchases while we’re in the USA. Our monthly expenses are still quite low compared to when we’re at home though. Our last two Visa bills (which we use for virtually everything we purchase) were about 25% lower than what we average when we’re at home in the Okanagan. Gas, groceries and entertainment costs are still less than in Canada, but obviously not as cheap as in the past. And if you follow our activities you can’t say that we’re cutting back on activities too much, can you?
Besides, after 6 years of spending our winters in the Sunbelt we have NO appropriate winter clothing for life in the Okanagan. We also would need to purchase a lot of winter activity gear such as Snowshoes and Cross Country skis if we spent our time at home. Just the thought of it gives me chills.