The trail from Hurricane Ridge to Klahhane Ridge on a blistering hot day Thursday. (Pierre LaBossiere/Peninsula Daily News)

The trail from Hurricane Ridge to Klahhane Ridge on a blistering hot day Thursday. (Pierre LaBossiere/Peninsula Daily News)

PIERRE LaBOSSIERE COLUMN: Don’t gotta have that bonk

This has been a strange summer. Especially for getting outdoors.

First of all was the unusually wet and cold spring. There was still snow coming down at Hurricane Ridge as late as mid-June.

I lived in Montana and Northern California for years and years, so on the one hand, I really appreciated all that late rain and snow. I’ve experienced first-hand how much runaway fires can ruin a summer. So, it was great if you hate fires and smoke and want the Olympic Peninsula to remain green all summer.

But it did kind of suck for actually getting back onto the trails. I spent all spring just hiking the Spruce Railroad Bridge trail. As much as I love the trail and the views, it doesn’t really have much uphill and doesn’t help your legs get in shape.

I had family visit for a week and it was hard enough just to get them off the couch at their vacation rental, much less out of the parking lot at Hurricane Ridge. There were days I just felt like, “I’m not related to these people.”

Then I was laid out for two weeks with a bout of COVID-19. I didn’t get especially sick, but I was quarantined for 10 days. Ten beautiful, gorgeous early summer days. Yarrgghhh.

Then I filled in for 10 days for people on vacation. Finally, last week I had some spare time and a chance to get out hiking at Hurricane Ridge.

And my legs absolutely died on the trail.

First of all, it was blistering hot. An interesting phenomena — Hurricane Ridge at 5,200 feet elevation was actually hotter than Port Angeles at sea level. I assume it was because, down at sea level, there were marine winds coming off the Strait that cooled the city down. One of the days I was out at the trail, it was 84 degrees back at my car … at 11 a.m.

I just did a couple of training hikes between Hurricane Ridge and Klahhane Ridge. It’s one of my favorite early-summer hikes. There’s a high point without a name about 2 miles past the parking lot that’s a great place to sit and hydrate.

On the way back, the hike got harder. The trail is much hotter and there’s a short, steep uphill on the way back at the very end that usually is no big deal for me. Last week, it was a big deal.

I didn’t do that badly the first day. But the second day, in the 84-degree heat, my thighs just seized up with cramps. Both of them. I had only experienced that sensation once before, in Banff National Park. It’s called “bonking. ” It’s caused by dehydration and it’s not fun. It becomes an effort just to take a handful of steps. It becomes a massive effort to take a handful of steps uphill. Man, I had allowed myself to get out of shape. All those weeks of inactivity because of the late snow and COVID-19 and work were catching up to me.

On the last little stretch, I was so out of it, I actually walked right into a little black bear about 7 or 8 feet off the trail and didn’t realize it. I couldn’t see him hiding the shadows. I came out of the woods and there were a couple of park rangers trying to scare him away. I thought for sure I was going to get a stern lecture about not walking past wildlife and I was all prepared for my defense that it was a black bear in the shadows and his fur is black and I couldn’t see him and I’m dehydrated and it wasn’t my fault, but either the rangers didn’t see how close I had come to the bear or weren’t worried about it. I avoided the lecture.

Anyway, the bear incident put a cute end to the day, but my legs were completely gone. It took two days of icing my thighs before they felt OK again. I had to cancel a planned hike to Hurricane Hill.

I was glad to see the clouds show up yesterday, signaling a change and cooling trend in the weather.

I had hoped to climb a couple of big mountains in Banff this summer in my mom’s memory. I put those plans off because the pandemic was still lingering and I’m glad I did. I could have never done it this year. Fairview Mountain near Lake Louise is particularly dangerous. I have a year to work on it. I am hoping to hike the Overlord Trail at Blackcomb later this month. It’s a trail that circles halfway around Blackcomb Peak near Whistler, B.C., but I see I still have a lot of work to do.


Sports Editor Pierre LaBossiere can be contacted at [email protected]

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