Wednesday, June 21, 2017

My Attempt at Ha Ling Peak - June 18, 2017

One of my goals this year is to get back out on the trails. I love to hike, but for various (stupid) reasons have not done much of it in the last 6 years.

Somehow my sister talked me in to making an attempt at Ha Ling Peak for my first hike of the season (and only my third hike in those 6 years that I mentioned previously). I knew that it was likely beyond my current capabilities, but I agreed to go with the understanding that I might not make it to the top.

We started the day off pretty excited. It was nice to be out of the city and, although the weather was pretty dreary, it looked like it was going to clear up.

If you've never hiked Ha Ling Peak before let me tell you that this is not a hike for the out of shape! You gain 700 m of elevation in about 5.8 km. From the very get go the trail goes up.

I wish you could tell how steep the trail is here.

It was a very difficult hike for me (my sister had no troubles but she's been hiking since early in the year and is in a lot better shape than me). In addition to a lot of up, most of the trail picks through tree routes and rock so I found I was always searching for stable footing. (I've had a lot of tendinitis issues in my feet the past 2-3 years, so I may have been a little nervous about not re-injuring my feet.) The first 2/3 of the hike is in the trees, but every once in awhile they opened up to some gorgeous views.

The fit people say that this hike can be completed (up and down) in about 3 hours. I think it took us about 4 to get up to the saddle (the ridge between Miners Peak and Ha Ling peak). The first part of the trail once you leave the tree line was actually not too bad. It was still steep, but the trails through the scree were quite easy to walk.

I hadn't told my sister that my personal goal was to make it to the saddle so I was feeling good about accomplishing that, but was pretty apprehensive about going any further. We paused on the ridge for a bit to take some photos. Luckily I had read the warnings about how windy and cold it could be up there and those warnings were right!! The wind was strong and it was cold, we were wishing we had brought gloves (luckily we both brought sweaters/jackets with hoods). The views from the ridge were pretty spectacular.


Miners Peak (on the right)

Miners Peak and the Three Miners

Rain in the distance

Luckily the rain seemed to travel around us all day. We had a few light sprinkles and heard some people say they saw some snow in the air, but all in all the weather stayed decent (except that cold). 

Next up was the ascent to Ha Ling Peak. I tried, I honestly did, but my legs were done and I just knew that if I pushed myself to the top I would probably not be safe coming back down... so I called it. My sister made the peak and I'm so glad that she went ahead without me. The peak was her goal and I was happy to be there to support her in reaching it.

I sat part way up the peak and had a little talk with the mountain. I knew that I was not ready for this climb, but I pushed past many mental demons to get to where I was and I made peace with not reaching the top.

My final photo

I didn't think I would ever see the day that I would prefer the climb over the descent, but today was that day... coming down was HARD! My knees were not bad, they hurt a little part way down but seemed to adjust. My feet were sore and my quads were so fatigued I felt like my legs were going to give out at every step. Once we got below the rocky terrain I went back to using my sister's trekking poles and they definitely helped (I will be putting a set of those on my "gear to buy" list).

Now that the pain in my legs is starting to subside and I've had a couple of days to reflect, I am still very proud of what I achieved that day. I will continue hiking this summer and keep getting stronger and, one day, I will go back to Ha Ling Peak and make it to the top. I have no doubt about that.

Sunday, June 11, 2017

Balcony Gardening

In addition to my community garden plot this summer, I am also doing a little balcony gardening (as I've mentioned before.

Today I repotted some flowers and my pepper plant. I also planted some green onions and some potatoes as an experiment. Here is a picture of my "set up":

I also repotted my tomatoes and put in some bigger supports.

Early Girl

Supersweet 100

It broke my heart, but I pinched back my pepper plant and removed the blooms because I want it to bush out more. This is my first time trying to grow peppers and I'm going to trust the experts who say to focus on building plant structure early in the season and not let them start production.

So far everything seems pretty happy and the tomatoes are putting out lots of blooms, so I'm hoping for a good year.

Monday, June 5, 2017

Garden Adventures for the Yardless

One of the many things I like to attempt to do (not always with great success), is to grow a bit of food. In my old neighbourhood I had a northwest facing yard and didn't get enough sun to grow anything in the ground. I had some moderate success with tomatoes on the balcony, but everything else either cooked in the western sunsets or got eaten by squirrels.

I moved last November and wasn't too sure that I would be able to continue container gardening. My new balcony is about half the size, but south facing so I really wanted to try a little bit. I currently have two tomato plants (a Sweet 100 and an Early Girl), some strawberries and tonight I added a pepper plant that I couldn't pass up. Look at these baby peppers!

I also have a couple of strawberries ripening and more flowers getting ready to make fruit.

The tomato plants are putting out tons of flowers and I really need to move them up to slightly larger pots and get them staked.

The biggest blessing for this year was finally getting a bed in a local community garden! I just kind of stumbled in to it and didn't even have to put my name on a wait list.

I got it weeded and ready on May 22:

I had some volunteer lettuce, I'm assuming it seeded from what was planted there last year, and put a few marigolds in the ground.

Then on May 30 I went and put in most of my seeds and plants:

The front uncovered part of the bed has radishes, carrots and beet seeds planted. Under the cover are some basil, another pepper plant, a cucumber plant (Patio Snacker) and three tomato plants (La Roma III, Yellow Pear and Manitoba).

I went back on June 4 to water and check things out. Everything is doing well except the basil (I think it got too dry) and the cukes (all the big leaves died and it's back to little stumpy growth). The radishes are coming up.

I forgot to take a picture at the garden, but did bring home this tiny harvest:

There is rhubarb in the shared areas of the garden... I'll probably go and get more. I'm looking forward to the raspberries later in the season too!

So far I'm quite pleased with how everything is doing.