Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Pinnacle Mountain

So, today I climbed Pinnacle Mountain.  It's just outside Little Rock and not too far from my house.  Well, after doing all these other hikes I thought, "Pinnacle Mountain, sure, let's do it.  Let's even do the primitive East trail."  I was gently persuaded into the more groomed West trail and  said "well, okay...".  Off we went.

The ranger at the visitor's center where we bought our patch had told us that due to trail maintence, parts of the trail have been re-routed.  I would later see just how big of a detour that was.

We started at the West trail entrance and began hiking the green blazed Base Trail with its gentle ups and downs.

Near the end of the Base Trail there was a nice bench.  I sat down and drank some water and caught my breath.  It didn't seem that bad.

A few hundred yards later, we reach a detour onto a gravel forest service road --straight up the mountain!

At first I was okay with it.  It could have been worse.  It could have been paved.  (I have a very high aversion to hiking on asphalt.)  I can't tell you how far or how steep this road was, but it looked something like this:

I was too busy breathing to take any pics myself.

I put my head down and just walked.  I tried to empty my mind of everything and just put one boot in front of the other.  When I got to the point  that I needed to rest, I sat down on a huge rock and wanted to quit.  I really didn't want to be there.  I had hiked around Mount Magazine and Cove Lake yesterday, came home and drank a few glasses of Chardonnay and stayed up really late watching movies on Netflix last night.  I was tired, a little hungover, and very stiff and sore.  In spite of all of that, I knew I needed to do this.  A lot of my apprehension (aversion?) came from my own self-doubt.  Could I really climb Pinnacle Mountain?  If I can't, how will I ever make it on the AT?  Am I a failure?  Am I too fat and out of shape and old for this?  A million doubts and fears ran loops thru my mind as we drove to the visitor's center.  

*I highly recommend going to the Visitor's Center here*

Back to the trail.  As I sat panting and sweating on the side of that gravel road from hell, I felt low.  Really low.  I should just go home now.  I wanted to walk away.  I argued with myself mentally.  "You can do this" I said.  Honestly, I kept going more out of pride than true motivation.  I didn't want  to embarrass myself in front of Speedy.  I swear I think he did the entire trail with his hands in his pockets.  Grrrr!  Ok, not really but he's in much better shape than me.  He was also my cheerleader up the mountain.  He really can't lie very well but don't tell him I told you so.  ; )

Finally, I get my hot pink earbuds out of my pack (yes, I carried a pack up and down Pinnacle - what was I thinking!)  and plugged them into my smartphone.  I knew that playing my Slacker Radio app would considerably drain my battery but Speedy had a phone and we were in a pretty populated area.  I started the music.  An Indian (middle eastern Indian) song came on, lots of rhythm, very powerful to me.  I closed my eyes, put my head down, and started walking up that hill in time to the music.

I finally made it.

We FINALLY saw the sign indicating the trail returning to the woods.  It had a lot of switchbacks and was pretty serpentine with mild elevation increase.  Then, I looked up and saw THIS:

Here ^  I am still happy about this...I have a long way to go.

The rocks were like nothing I've ever done in my life.  I've hiked Humpback Rock in Virginia and that is one tough climb but never have I encountered a rock scramble.  Further up it became actual BOULDERING.
The funny thing is that I didn't mind the rocks and boulders near as much as that gravel road.  Because it was new to me, I found it interesting.  I stopped often and drank lots of water but I always got back up.  Just when I thought I was near the summit I looked up (always bad) and saw what appeared to be another mile (kidding) of boulders and rocks going straight up to the sky.  Jack's Beanstalk wasn't this big.  I sat back down and felt sorry for myself.  I pouted.  I told myself I was a loser.  I wanted to go home.  Now.  Just then, what comes bouncing up  the trail?  A 100 pound brunette and her dog.  She is very young and very pretty.  As she gets closer I start to grin.  Then I laugh.  This girl is wearing all North Face clothes and gear and she has a FULL FACE OF MAKEUP.  No shit, she even had the false eyelashes, lip liner, the whole shebang.  How hilarious!  I suppose the gods chose that moment to humor me and lift my spirits.  It worked.  I was mobile once again.  Up up up to the sky.  Wearing NO makeup thank you very much.  *giggle*

Here I am getting near the summit, Speedy is patiently waiting for me again:

Here I am, finally at the top:

Right before this picture was taken, I had sat down just below the summit and cried.  I really did.  I felt so much better.  I released a lot of emotions and anxieties by making it to the top and I was relieved.  

Going back down, I was in high spirits.  I was so happy and so proud of myself.  I only fell down once.

After that, I took my time.  Props to my ASOLO boots for doing and awesome job of keeping my feet warm, safe, dry, comfortable and for providing excellent traction, support and protection.

We made it back to the car and went to a little deli on Chenal for lunch.  It was one of the best sandwiches I've ever had!  

I really enjoyed the physical and mental challenges of climbing Pinnacle Mountain.

Veni, Vedi, Vici.

If you want to see all of my pics, here's the link to my FB album.


  1. Hoo rah! That which does not kill us makes us stronger!

  2. So true Bill! There were a few times I thought I was dying but it was just the weakness leaving my body! ;)