Found a nice loop hike in McDonald that satisfies my goal of finding a hike that is similar to the approach on South Sister. The Oak Creek Quarry loop covers 8 miles round trip and a gain of around 2000' in elevation, and I was able to complete the loop in about 3.5 hours. Since quitting smoking, I've put on about 20lbs, since leaving Alaska in 2003, its more like 60lbs! August of '03 I was at my lowest weight since high school, but I was smoking a pack a day as well as tearing up my body in the airline business. Part of me leaving Ak. for good was the fact that I was destroying myself on a daily basis for a paycheck. Granted, when I left, so did most of my physical activity. By the time I settled in Oregon for good in 2004, I was already gaining back weight I'd lost from that summer of work. The fact that I worked a retail counter for the last 7 years hasn't helped much either. So, along with the quitting smoking to be able to enjoy life and enjoy my mountains, I'm working on a regular routine of working out.
I've been trying to get into the gym at least three days a week, but if decent weather presents itself, I'm heading for a trail. That's what I woke up to today, decent weather in front of a storm system that's moving in this week. I picked the Quarry Loop because of the distance and elevation, the approach on South Sister really worked me over last year. I need to know I can make the approach, bag the summit, and still have enough poop left in me to descend without causing myself any injury. Starting from the Oak Creek parking lot, take the Homestead trail to the left of the information kiosk. This short trail leads to a spur of the 6021 road, you want to keep right through the next few junctions until you see a "T" intersection with a post that says "6021 770" to the left. Here's where you start a steady uphill for at least a good hour or so. From here without a map or knowledge of the trails it could be easy to get turned around and end up on the other side of Corvallis! You want to keep on the 770 until you hit a 3 way junction with the 680 road. The junction isn't well marked, but three roads come together in a triangle, stay with the junction to your right. The 680 will eventually lead to the 600, or Patterson Rd., and back to the parking area.
The trip took right around 3.5 hours, including a stop along the top of the loop to throw some tape on my heels because of new boots. I've also been having a few foot issues because of weight, and today I tried a little bit of arch taping on my right foot which was bothering me a little. This helped support my arch and keep my foot from flexing, which has been causing some pain to the outer edge of my foot. I'm going to give this a shot tomorrow in the gym as well. Bought a new pair of running shoes.....for $130.....but I went to a real shoe store (Five Star Sports) and the guy helping me saw very quickly a few of my foot issues such as pronation. My ankles and feet want to roll inward when I stand or walk, so he helped me with a pair of motion control shoes to help offset the pronation. I think with taping, I should be able to workout longer and make more of my exercise sessions.