Two days ago I went hiking in the Mojave desert. Yesterday morning I was a little sore. However, this morning (the morning after the morning after) I was really sore. I'm clearly out of shape. I guess it's time to actually exercise in a way that helps my hiking hobby.
I started off hiking on Cave Mountain. It's a small hill on the south side of I-15 about 20 miles south of Baker, CA. This wikipedia article about the Mojave Freeway mentions Cave Mountain and has a decent photo. The photos to the right show my car parked under the high power lines. I drove the utility power-line road to get close to where my route starts. I still had to cross about a quarter mile of sand. That takes longer than you'd expect because my foot steps would randomly break through the surface and drop down about 6 inches. Sort of disconcerting. The magnetic and electric field below those towers are pretty strong (yes, I used my EMF meter). The second shot shows the view of I-15 from where I turned back due to a horrible cramp in my foot. It's been my experience that if my foot cramps, then it'll keep doing that. Another example of my needing more conditioning, since the muscles in my foot were clearly overworked. The third shot shows me resting my very painful foot atop a handy boulder. Those are my new light hiking shoes, the Merrell Moab Ventilator - mid hieght. They're terrific. Very comfortable, light weight, and my feet kept cool. It was 100 deg at that altitude. I was about 1500 feet above my car, so maybe 1700 feet above the highway. The next section of the hike required me to climb right up a long steep section that had no decent places to rest if I had another cramp. So, I decided to turn back. After all, I had a backup hill to climb that would be much easier.
Then I headed back toward Los Angeles, and stopped off just north of Victorville to climb up Bell Mountain. It's an impressive sight to everyone driving on I-15, with an unmistakable bell shaped profile. Here's a Google Map centered roughly above Bell Mountain. When researching this hill, I couldn't find any information about trails, so I expected it'd be off-trail, like at Cave Mtn. I was surprised to discover when I arrived that somebody was half way up the hill, hiking to the top. In just a few minutes, he made the summit. That convinced me to grab my pack and head up. I started out off-trail but quickly came across a faint trail, so I followed that for a while. I passed the other hiker as he was coming down. We chatted for a while. He expresed surprise to see anybody else there, that he climbs it often and hasn't seen any other hikers before. I joked about the large quantity of broken glass and shotgun shells all over the hillside, and how the other visitors don't seem to be traditional hikers. The first photo is directed toward (sort of) the small town of Apple Valley and shows the flag flying from the pole that's cemented into the summit. The second shot is directed toward Victorville to the southwest. It took about 45 minutes to reach the top, and 30 minutes to descend. It would have taken much less time if I wasn't tired and a little sore from the morning hike.
Well, it's time for me to plan out some excercises that will improve my conditioning. The descent down Cave Mtn really made my quads burn. That normally doesn't happen, so I'm certain that I'm just out of shape.