One week and counting. . . This time next week I will hopefully be catching some zzzz’s in advance of leaving between 12am - 1am to start my ascent to the top of Mount Hood.
Less than 5 months ago I came across the Climb For Clean Air page on Facebook and of course, the words “no experience needed” caught my attention. While the competitive, athletically confident side of me said “no problem”, as our weekly training climbs have unfolded, to say I have been humbled would be an understatement. Each week has not only brought a new physical challenge, but also a mental aspect I didn’t expect. The support from our volunteer guides and my fellow CFCA team members has been nothing less than amazing as we all encourage and push each other. No matter what the challenge, we are all there for each other and I have to admit, I’ve been on a lot of teams in my life, this is truly the most supportive, no-ego, group I’ve been associated with! For those who have supported me and the American Lung Association financially, your support goes SO far beyond the dollars. Your donation is making a difference in the lives of so many people with breathing challenges while showing your faith in me to achieve my personal goal of summiting Mount Hood!
As I prepare for my final training climb this weekend - appropriately Devil’s Peak - it’s not too late to join my team. Follow the link below to make a donation and join Team Roberts as we count down the final 7 days to summiting what John Muir called “the mountain of mountains”, the “ pride of Oregonaians” - Mount Hood
Donations can still be made so just click on the DONATE button and see ya at the top!
Solo Expedition - Dog Mountain
While the rest of my team did the urban "4T" trail in Portland, I ventured out on a solo expedition to a Dog Mountain. While we battled a steeper grade on King's Mountain, Dog Mountain throws narrow, muddy, rocky paths along the slope of the mountain with fierce winds blowing clouds across your the path and seriously, don't look down!
At this point in our training, I'm feeling good about the physical aspect so long as I continue my training during the week (this week my trainer has a doozy waiting for me on Wednesday) - what I continue to focus on is the mental part of this training. The support and camaraderie of hiking with my fellow "summiteers" can't be underestimated and it really showed this weekend as I had to be my own coach and motivator. More than once, I thought of different reasons - better to call them excuses - not to summit Dog Mountain. Not dressed properly, too windy (not safe), right knee is bothering me (don't push it); hamstring is tight (don't want to pull it) - blah, blah, blah. Once I got out of my head, I went full throttle mindfulness. I told myself - don't think about how far you have to go, forget about where you're come from and just focus on the step you are taking and the next 2 steps. My 2 mantras became "left, right, left, right" and "left, left, left-right-left" and needless to say, it wasn't long before I was at the top of the mountain. As the clouds broke up and blew across the summit, rays of sunshine shown through and I got glimpses of the Gorge below me making for a beautiful Easter morning.
Next week - Tilly Jane Trail and snowshoeing. As the saying goes, payback's a b*tch and this weekend . . . time to bring it!
by Melanie Roberts on Wed, Apr 24, 2019 @ 1:34 AM
Tools of the Trade - Climber's Clinic
This weekend saw us head up to Mt. Hood for our first Climber's Clinic. Equipped with mountaineering boots (think of a "slightly" more comfortable ski boot), crampons (traction devices - yes, with sharp points - that attach to mountaineering boots for secure travel on snow and ice, like ascending snowy slopes, scaling ice-covered rock or crossing glaciers), ice picks, a helmet (safety first!), and packs loaded to a weight that we expect to have the day of our summit (mine weighed in at 25.5lbs).
Our meeting place was the Historical Timberline Lodge. Constructed in 1937, Timberline Lodge is on the south slope of Mt. Hood, at an elevation of 6,000 feet, was declared a National Historic Landmark in 1977 and attracts about two million visitors a year. Our first stop was the Barlow Room in the Lodge where our guides gave us a brief rundown of our equipment followed by a check of our packs (with all of the pointed, sharp edges, safety is paramount as no one wants their eye poked out!)
As we headed out to the Climbers area we passed a few guides practicing their "crevasse retrieval" skills - one skill we won't have to worry about on Mt. Hood:-). Due to the late, heavy snow we've been getting, our trainers picked a secondary training area as the usual area was below an avalanche area and again, safety first! As the snow started to fall, our lessons began - ascents: we learned how to create and use a boot path, side step, duck step, traverse and how to properly turn; and for descents: side steps, American Step, French step, heel step traverse and again, how to properly. With axe in hand, we learned how to self belay, high dagger, low dagger and were introduced self arrest skills. Needless to say, this adventure just got real as we practice skills that could potentially save a life - including mine.
Next week we have a lighter schedule with the Portland 4T Trail - Trail, Tram, Trolley, Train so I will be tackling Dog Mountain since I missed it a couple weeks ago.
by Melanie Roberts on Wed, Apr 24, 2019 @ 1:16 AM
Training Week #8 - Queen of King's Mountain
For this week's training hike we went west towards the coast for the first time this year and the formidable King's Mountain Trail in the Tillamook Forest. While a little less than 5 miles (out & back = up and down), the kicker is the 2,500+ foot elevation gain which is achieved over the course of the first 2.3 miles - so much for a casual Sunday afternoon trek! Being a skier, I know all too well what that black diamond at the trailhead means;-)
As I researched the hike and compared it to others I've done - I knew this would test me both physically and mentally like no other climb so my first step in preparation was to control my analysis-paralysis. I focused on cardio this week with leg work early in the week and ended the week w/ lat work (kudos to my "Pain-Inflictor" aka Trainer Anne for pushing me JUST a bit). I also made sure my head was in the right place heading into the weekend - talking myself into success rather than failure.
One of my fellow hikers shared a story she read that described the trail as a "2.5 mile long hurt locker disguised as a hiking path" and while true, one that was conquered. A steady and consistent climb for the first 2.3 miles or so on a relatively soft, sometimes muddy, rocky terrain averaging a 37 minute mile and we were all feeling good at our last break as we donned jackets for the final push to the top as we knew we had already climbed almost 1,400' feet meaning we only had 1,000 left - the only hiccup? We were going to climb 1,000ft in approximately half a mile AND at a grade of 30 to 50% . . . all of a sudden, it got very quiet as reality sunk in. As we started our final ascent, there was a confident focus among the group even as we scrambled our way through the "Ladder" - a rocky section of the trail (50% grade) where I tossed my poles up the trail and used my hands and feet to climb up (when you're vertically challenged like I am, sometimes it's the only option;-). Once we reached the top, the sense of accomplishment and satisfaction was an amazing feeling for all of us! What made it even better was the book we get to sign - found in a waterproof tube - a book for all who summit King's Mountain to register their achievement. The only thing missing was the view of the Pacific Ocean to the West and Mt. Hood to the East (drizzling & cloudy) . . . next time:-)
Heading down was far from a laugher - as steep as it was coming up,it felt steeper going down and trust me when I say, my thighs were feeling it today!
In terms of my training, each week I'm seeing improvements. Whether it's my pace, my breathing, nutrition both before & during, I'm building strength & stamina - mentally & physically. This week I even found myself the pace-setter for the group - something I wasn't necessarily comfortable with until I tried to step aside for others and I heard "we're good Punk - stay there, you've got a great pace!" With everything that I'm learning, it's my mindfulness training that I think is having the biggest impact. . . .be present in the moment - forget the last step, don't worry about what's "up there" - just focus on the step that you're taking.
Finally, it's hard to believe - I'm only $607 away from my fundraising goal and I can't thank you all enough for your support and for those who haven't joined "Team Roberts" yet, it's not too late and I am still gratefully accepting donations which can be made through the link below, or message me for other options for getting your donation to the American Lung Associations Climb for Clean Air on my behalf
Kings Mountain: 2500' gain, 5.6 miles, 20lb pack
by Melanie Roberts on Mon, Apr 08, 2019 @ 11:01 PM
Training Hike #6 - Redemption
After the frustrations of Training Hike (TH) #5, being able to take the lessons learned and apply them to TH #6 was my focus this week. Who am I kidding? My ego took a beating last week making this week one of "Redemption"!
This week's hike was in the Columbia Gorge, East of Multnomah Falls and in the burn zone of the horrendously damaging Eagle Creek Fire. The Eagle Creek fire started on September 2, 2017, was caused by a 15-year-old playing with fireworks, scorched over 50,000 acres, and burned for 3 months with some smoldering areas found the end of May 2018 - almost 9 months later. What had been majestic mountains of stone rising sharply from the ground, covered by a thick layer of evergreens have been transformed into a forest of toothpicks with the peaks looking like they are sporting mohawks:-). There's an eerie, peaceful, serenity that hits you once you get to the snow elevation as bare, wooden sticks - ranging from brown bark to black charcoal - pierce the white snow and point to the sky. The weather was amazingly beautiful in that the Columbia River was smooth as glass, not a hint of a breeze - unheard of for The Gorge.
Indian Point via Herman Creek, Nick Eaton, and Gorton Creek trails was a "Hard" hike (according to AllTrails), "about" 9 miles (those of us who track using different methods had different totals - within about 1/2 a mile, so using my totals) with an elevation gain of 2,861ft. (700ft. more than last week). This week's hike was slated to be our hardest to date and was definitely no joke, even when compared to last week - double the elevation gain in the 1st mile, 4 miles of climb versus 3 last week with more than 1,500ft in elevation between miles 3 & 4 not to mention spiking up to trek through thick, packed snow for much of our journey.
I flat-out nailed it this week! From bringing up the rear last week with numerous stops beyond the approved "gear checks", "water/food break", this week I stayed on pace with the leaders of our group, no additional breaks and even had what I would call an "energy surge" the last mile or so. While there's a part of me thinking that my competitive nature prevented me from having another "arrgg" week, it was all about preparation and execution! More lessons learned and even more put into play:
1. Better attention to nutrition - especially the night before (no alcohol) and the morning of.
2. Electrolytes, electrolytes, electrolytes - separate water bottle for my "charged" water that I drank on the way up, leaving my filled water bladder to drink from on the way down.
3. Less clothes to start with and layered down sooner. Lighter leggings made a difference.
4. Pace - not a race, but need to keep pace so adjust as needed - knee up, knee down; "rest" step.
5. Breathing and stepping in sync adjusting with my pace.
6. Set short-term goals. Don't look up the face of the mountain, just keep an eye on the person in front of you and keep up with them.
7. Be prepared - No gaiters or an extra pair of socks. I didn't think we'd be in deep enough snow - my bad and fortunately, I didn't pay for the mistake although I ended up with cold, wet feet. Won't make that mistake again.
8. Mind over matter
First couple of weeks at my new job has thrown my workout schedule off so this week it's time to get back on track so I can keep my momentum going into this week's hike as we head across the river to climb Dog Mountain in Washington.
Thanx again for your continued support as continue on my journey! For those who have already donated to the American Lung Association via my Personal Page - you've helped me achieve 71% of my $4,000 goal! For those who haven't donated yet, there's no time like the present and check back here to see where my weekly adventures take me!
by Melanie Roberts on Mon, Mar 25, 2019 @ 11:20 PM
Training Hike #5 - Head Games
After today's hike, I realized I want to share all aspects of my training journey with you - including lessons learned, successes and challenges - both physically and mentally. These training hikes go beyond getting us into physical shape, they train us to get into mental/emotional shape as well. In fact, this week's hike/climb - Glade Trail - put my analysis-paralysis into high gear, hence the title Head Games.
A Moderate hike of 6.3 miles (out and back), w/ an elevation gain of 2,129 (up to 5,480ft) and carrying a 20lb pack. Unlike other hikes that have switch-backs (zig-zig across the face of the mountain to get to the top), this was straight up the mountain). While I've done longer distances with higher elevation gain, and heavier pack, this was a first in 4'+ of snow with snowshoes.
It didn't take long - about 1 mile in to be exact - for me to realize that this was going to push me harder than I've been pushed in a long time. Going from a 29 minute 1st mile (slower than normal) to 43 minute miles on the 2nd & 3rd mile (longest it's ever taken me to hike a mile:-( put me deep inside my head. I'm used to being in my head as many of you know (lol) but not like today because all I heard was "I don't think I can do this". Um, excuse me - what? Since when do I question myself doing anything? I spent almost 90 minutes pushing, dragging, slugging up the mountain questioning my ability and the ONLY thing that keep me going was Coach Denise. Denise is one of the climbing volunteers that helps train us. We had about 2-3 volunteers per trainee today (so many people aren't participating in the training hikes) and for me, bringing up the rear of the group, I was lucky to have Denise to myself. Having been an athletic coach, Denise knew what I needed - from finding a rock song for motivation to making me keep moving and establishing smaller, achievable goals. As my ego continued to take a beating - I didn't like trailing everyone else, and couldn't believe what a hard time I was having - Denise was there to get focusing on something else. In addition to the mental support, Coach continued to teach me more of the tricks of the trade as well as emphasizing the importance of some common sense things:
1. Don't overheat. My body's natural temperature runs hot and I learned that I need to layer down a lot sooner so as not to overheat which I did a couple of times today;
2. Drink water and electrolytes. Because I overheated I was sweating out more than I was taking in (even though I was drinking more than usual) which resulted in cramping. My right hand and fingers started to cramp and my leg muscles were tight & couldn't loosen. Thankfully I had some NUUM hydration tabs with me - first time using them and got me what I needed.
3. Small, almost shuffle steps - knee up, knee down. You don't go very far doing this, but any progress is better than no progress:-)
4. Breathing. Where have I heard that before lol. Slow it down, time it out with my steps even getting to a point where I can breath every couple of steps.
5. Music. I was like duh. I've always used music to center myself, to get me back on track, and as a motivator. Whether it's my High Energy playlist that I listen to before softball games or my Focus playlist I play during games when my hitting is off - music quiets the voices in my head
6. Understand that what I'm doing is VERY different from anything else I've done and to give myself a break! I finally understood today. All of my hikes to date have been with friends, dogs, picture taking along the way, stopping more frequently with the emphasis on enjoying the journey. Enjoying the journey is not the objective now - the objective now is getting to the top of the mountain and once you get there, then you enjoy the view, pat yourself on the back for getting your ass up there and tell yourself all the pain and suffering was all worth it.
When I finally reached the rest of the team, I was met with applause and congratulations - THAT'S what made it worth it! That and silencing the negativity in my head. Today, not only did I silence the doubt, I had another duh moment. As most of you know, I've played traveling tournament softball (still do) for close to 30 years(yikes!) and have what some people. . . ok, who am I kidding - most people . . . . would call a very competitive side. Much of it is internal - expecting myself to perform, to come through, not failing - but I've never really doubted myself or my ability. As I started back down the mountain, I replayed the hike up in my head and said You know, instead of looking up and saying I'll never make it up there; say This won't be easy, but I've got this. Where your head goes, your body follows and visa-versa. You doubt yourself, your body starts to quit; you have confidence in your ability, your body won't let you down.
Going down isn't as mindless as one might think - catch a tip of your snowshoe and your head over ass face-planting. Thankfully - stayed on my feet! What made my day was having Ted (our Oregon Volunteer Coordinator) let me know that he has no doubts about me achieving this. When others have faith in you - you can achieve anything:-)
All-in-all a great day with more successes and gains each week. What's really going to be challenging is keeping my in-between hike workouts going. Being off of work for a couple of months gave me the opportunity to focus on myself - working out in some capacity (Orangetheory 3-4 times a week, personal trainer twice a week, dragon boat paddling twice a week) 5-6 times a week. Now that I'm back to work, committing myself to staying on track will be my next challenge . . one week at a time.
If you've made it this far - thanx for your time! For those of you who have already made a donation in support of my climb and the American Lung Association - thank you for helping me get 58% of the way to meeting my goal of $4,000! For those who haven't - why not? Just $5 - the cost of a latte - can have a big impact in the fight against lung disease . . . and help me achieve my goal!
Next week. . . . Indian Point, Oregon via Herman Creek, Nick Eaton, and Groton Creek trails . . . . 7.3 miles with an elevation gain of 3,185 - guaranteed to be another challenge for me to conquer!
by Melanie Roberts on Sun, Mar 17, 2019 @ 7:20 PM
Training hike - 3/10/19 Hamilton Loop
This week's trek was up Hamilton Mountain Loop on the Washington side of the Columbia River. We hiked 8.6 miles with a 2,290 elevation through dry, mud, slush, and snow under crystal blue skies and a HECKA cold wind river side. Microspikes 95% of the way, a little scrambling (hands & feet climbing up/over rocky terrain), some bushwhacking (there is an advantage to being short when you have to crawl under downed branches/trees) and steady feet to lean into the wind at the top.
All of the 2,290 elevation gain was in the first 3.4 miles making this the steepest gain/shortest distance hike I've done to date and the breathing lessons I learned on my first hike came in very handy & SO helpful! (Thank you Denise:-)). This hike I learned about the "rest step" - a real thing that my legs LOVED!
Beautiful views from the "saddle" or ridge of the mountain ("the highest point marking the highest point between two valleys and the lowest point along the ridge") and not a place for those who don't like heights. It's an amazing feeling to be walking along the top of a mountain ridge covered in snow - drop off to the right, a LONG slide down the mountain to the left and let me tell you about the wind!. It blows up the mountain and as it comes over the ridge, it's like it's snowing from bottom up. Easy 15-20 degree temperature drop with the wind and care to stay on your feet is a must!
Next week. . . .Government Camp to Timberline snowshoe hike. This will be another first for me and I can't wait to see what I learn this week. Need to focus on my "inbetween-training-hike" training this week as I'm working out a lot and just need to make sure i'm working out the right way;-)
by Melanie Roberts on Sat, Mar 16, 2019 @ 9:47 PM
Practice Hike #1 - Angel's Rest
Happy Monday Team Roberts!
Well, my Mt. Hood Summit journey is officially underway as we had our first hike this past weekend to Angel's Rest which is located in the Gorge. A moderate hike of 5 miles (out & back) with a good elevation climb of 1,463 within the first 2.5 miles. Rain and snow, but no wind and the clouds were high enough for some gorgeous views. First time using microspikes, but easy adjustment for this softballer;-). Biggest difference between this hike and all of my other hikes - the purpose was to summit so stopping to take pictures along the way (great opportunity to catch your breath) was a "NO" on the way up and only allowed on the way down.
Can't thank our volunteer "coaches" who led the way - especially Denise - who I ended up partnering with. She quickly saw my "competitive" spirit and was able to provide me some really valuable feedback and guidance regarding my breathing and pacing myself.
I also want to thank all of you who have already contributed to the American Lung Association via my Climb For Clean Air journey. I will be blogging after each of our hikes as I want everyone to know this is the real thing and whether it's me hiking or your financial support, this is our adventure and I couldn't be doing it without your support. For those that haven't donated yet, there's no time like the present:-)
Thanx all and next week. . . . .Cape Horn
by Melanie Roberts on Mon, Feb 18, 2019 @ 4:42 PM