Yesterday (Sunday May 5th actually depending how long this takes me to write) I decided that it was too sunny and nice to waste the day on doing house/yard work. As any homeowner will attest too, home chores don’t seem to get done by themselves so if you want to go play, there is ABSOLUTELY no reason not to since you can always do the work tomorrow! With that spirit in mind, this will be my narration of me avoiding responsibility in favor of playing in the foothills of Boise, Idaho.
I started my adventure at the base of Hulls Gulch and Red Cliff trails. Along with these 2 hiking/biking trails, there is a nature learning center that I have not been too…yet. As a retired mountain biker (I rode a lot before the disk in my neck ruptured) I’m familiar with the Hull Gulch trail. The Red Cliff trail was developed right before I had my neck surgery however so I haven’t spent a lot of time exploring it.
Now, the last time I was out hiking I did Hulls Gulch but only made it ¾ of the way up before someone said they saw a snake. As my friends and family know all too well, I am VERY much afraid of any form of snake-dead, alive, toy, on the TV, movie, you get the idea! With the sincere hope of not seeing any snakes at all, I elected to try the Red Cliff trail since I had explored Hulls about a week ago.
From the parking lot, it is only about a 3 to 5 minute walk to the base of the Red Cliff trail. As you might expect, the trail gets its name from the red “cliffs” at the bottom of the trail. I put cliffs in quotation marks because as a rock climber, cliff might be stretching it some. The dirt around the base of the trail is also red which is not that common in the Boise Foothills. It is also fairly loose dirt around the base which makes the initial ¼ mile of the trail that much harder because it is relatively steep and rocky.
Once you past the ½ mile mark or so from the red cliffs, the trail begins to level off some. At this point, I could definitely tell I don’t do a lot of hiking because even in my comfortable North Face boots my ankles were angry with me. The best part about reaching this point is not the easier walking though, it’s were you can really start to smell the flowers & desert air instead of the city and smokers (there was several smokers in the parking lot as I got out of my car).
Looking down at Hulls Gulch from Red Cliff Trail
Around the 2 mile mark into my journey a couple of things happened. First, I found this tiny, purple colored flower. You would think that after working 10 plus years in a greenhouse I would know what it was, but yeah I have no clue!! All I know is that it seemed strangely out of place for being that high up in desert climate. This might seem strange for some but I’m pretty sure that the only reason I did notice it was because of my arthritis and chronic pain. One of the things both conditions teach you is to look for and enjoy small little surprises like a purple colored flower. I was proud of myself for noticing it.
It was at this point in my hike that I had to make a decision, continue my journey up to the top or turn around and come back down. The terrain was getting harder to walk on because I would be traveling across the mountains natural fall line instead of up it. My ankles were hurting and my resurfaced left hip was causing me all kinds of pain and discomfort at this point. Luckily for me though, unlucky for my joints, being outside in the sun and in nature energizes my old “let’s do it” side of my brain that Arthur has done his best to kill. So since there was only about a mile left before I got to the top, I decided that my joints were not going to win this time! Off I went…
As I went for the top, my body was trying to tell me what an idiot I was for choosing to continue with my hike. I was beginning to think that I was in trouble, luckily I saw these 2 cowboys that provided me with enough of a distraction to get me to the top. I say distraction because I don’t remember ever seeing anyone on horses just out riding like that when I still had my mountain bike.
In the interest of fairness, I need to give credit to Joanne Wurm here. Her love of horses is starting to rub off on to me so when I saw these 2 I knew I had to take pictures. I also know that if I didn’t take any pics she would probably want to kick my butt and I’m a little scared of her to be honest. If you haven’t had the pleasure of meeting her, check out her arthritis advocacy video at:
As I came across this fork in the trail, I will admit my first thought was this would make a perfect poster for choosing “left” in politics because it’s the right thing to do. My politics are well known and I’m certainly not shy about getting into a debate (In fact, I just got my first block on twitter because of a political discussion (the individual thought all Muslim’s were murderers) and I’m proud of it). Once my ego was done being proud and I stopped giggling to myself over my cleverness, I started to contemplate a phrase I’ve been hearing a lot lately.
Many in the arthritic community often refer to their lives as before and after diagnosis. I definitely understand this train of thought and have used it myself in describing my life I know. This type of thinking is wrong I now believe however! First, it’s unfair to all the kids with arthritic issues because they don’t know any other life. Why should we (experienced patients) get the luxury of playing “remember when” when our little arthritic siblings can’t?
I also think its unfair to us (as patients) to think like that too. Arthritis isn’t a life changing event; it’s just an event in this journey we call life. As someone afflicted with this condition, if I start referring to my life as 2 separate time periods I believe that is a win for the bastard. Our condition is nothing more than a fork in the hiking path. Granted we might have wanted to choose the path on the right but Arthur is forcing us to go left which we might not be prepared for. No matter what path we are on, we still have to continue to climb forwards.
After about 1.5 hours of hiking, I made it to the top! Very excited and happy because it gave me a chance to sit for a minute and drink some water. Hulls Gulch trail ends there too. The map and landscape looks pretty much how I remembered it although I’m not sure if the little bridge was there to cross the spring run off creek. Considering how many people on saw on the trails there was no one else there. Apparently I was the only one that needed a break that day 🙂
Part of the way down my camera decided it had enough and shut off and would not turn back on. I have no idea why it did that either, it works fine now. I did manage to get a great picture of this little lizard that ran across the trail as I was walking down Hulls. He did scare me just because he came out of nowhere! Maybe I need to cut back on some caffeine intake, I seem to be way to jumpy for my own good.
This concludes my narration of my hiking experience up Red Cliff and down Hulls Gulch trails. I was glad I did it despite how I felt that night and Monday at work. Sometimes you have to say “what the hell” in life despite knowing that the event will end in pain. As a wise man once said, “life is like sex, it’s a lot more fun if you move while you do it!”
(This was an odd combination of creepy and beautiful!)