This past trip, I moved to the Silver Cloud Eastgate. Much better, no complaints here. They have an exercise room worthy of the name. The room was clean and fresh; the bed was more comfortable. ahhhh.
Work was work, by the time the weekend came, I was ready to stretch my legs. Several people had recommended the hike up to Rattlesnake Ledge. The WTA trail guide said it was a beautiful trail, but crowded. It recommended we go early.
So, early Saturday morning, one of my traveling co-workers, Corey, and I set out bright and early. We got to the trailhead around eight - I thought we were in good shape. The way up the hill was fun. Corey is not an experienced hiker, and about 3/4 of the way up, began to cuss under his breath, asking himself why he'd thought it was a good idea to spend a perfectly good Saturday morning walking in the woods over rocks. As he huffed and puffed and glared at me, I just kept laughing under my breath and telling him it wouldn't be too much longer. And it wasn't - it was another twenty minutes - though I'm sure, to him, it felt like at least another hour.
But we prevailed, and reaching the end of the trail, stepped out onto a ledge with an amazing view. And a crowd of people. I'm used to getting to the end of a hike and finding zero to a dozen people there. Here, there were about fifty scattered around the rock ledge, staking out spots for a morning snack. Not the moment of peace I'd been anticipating, especially since someone had their music blaring. But there was enough space to pull up a hunk of rock and rest our tired legs, take a few pictures and eat a banana. Our fellow climbers were a diverse bunch - young, old, all colors, several nationalities. It was good to see.
As always, the downhill climb was easier on the lungs, harder on the knees. It was a LOT more crowded. We didn't go 100 yards without having to pull over to the side to let yet another group of climbers go by. We saw none of the trail runners we'd seen on the way up - it would have been impossible to get any rhythm going, and I'm sure they knew that. There were several more music lovers (now I know I'm getting old and grumpy - dissing their climbing music!). There were families with their young hikers-in-training, there were groups of teens, lots of couples. There was a gal, at least six months pregnant, with a toddler in a carry pack on her back. (I was impressed...) We passed so many people, I was starting to form visions of a standing-room only crowd at the top, with the people on the edge hanging on tight so as to not take the 300' drop. I was glad I'd paid attention to the get there early part!
By the time we got back to our starting point, Corey's mood had shifted - he was SO glad we'd gotten out and wasn't the view beautiful and where are we going to go next time. That was a great workout, I feel alive, if we do this every week, I'll be in great shape!
Gotta love Corey!