Having descended as far as we were willing to climb and absorbed the scenery, we decided to start back up to the top of Stone Door. We started our way back up the steep ascent.
Scrambling back up the fallen outcropping proved easier in terms of keeping our footing, but more difficult when it came to heart rate and breathing. I was quickly reminded that I haven’t been spending much time on my bike of late.
Truthfully, there is not much that seems to prepare my body for steep climbs other than, well, steep climbs. Every time I take the steps, I am reminded that riding a bike, rowing a sculling boat, doing yoga, and walking are not really comparable exercises.
This day, I was reminded that only stair climbing is good preparation for ascending steep slopes. I am not fond of stair climbing. I’d much rather climb a steep hill out of breath than spend hours going up indoor stairs in preparation.
When we reached the first plateau, we stopped. I pretended to want to take more shots of the cliffside above us. I really just wanted to catch my breath. But, the cliffside was fascinating. The volume of rock that had fallen next to the volume of rock still standing made my knees feel a little weak contemplating what it would be like to be standing on top of the overlook when it suddenly caved away. I hope no one was there the day the rocks fell.
We continued slowly up the rest of the ascent. I’ve learned that racing up steps doesn’t pay. Racing leads to having to stop for long recovery times. A slow steady pace allows the heart and lungs to keep up so the turtle passes the hare. I learned this when hiking in the Rockies. In my twenties, my friends and I sped past a woman who was probably the age I am now only to be passed by her when we were all sucking wind later. We repeated our folly, passing her and being passed again 3x before reaching the end of our hike. She finished well ahead of us. That’s when the lesson sunk in.
We made it back up the wooden stairs and slowly made our way up the slippery, dripping stone steps through the stone door. I paused at the top to take a shot of the pitcher-handle tree at the entrance.
Having worked up a sweat, we decided it was a good time to find a flat rock to sit on and have our picnic lunch. We stayed much further back from the edge of the overlook this time–the image of that overhang was still fresh in my mind. While we feasted on our wild-caught smoked salmon, carrot sticks, and apples, the dogs chewed happily on pigs ears. Tisen had to be convinced it was edible. But once he got a good grip on it, he was sold. Good thing–he’s allergic to salmon.