Tuesday, July 07, 2009

June's Hiking Article (printed in my local paper)

Let me get this out right up front . . . I only went on one hike in the last month. Two were written in ink on my calendar, but the second hike never happened.

I managed to take the first hike along the Crimson Trail on its scheduled date at the end of May, but when the day came for the second hike, it rained. And it proceeded to rain on each of the other days that I had optimistically penciled in for make-up hikes. On days that it didn’t rain (Were there any?), I had other things to do. Things like laundry, shopping, running kids to lessons and appointments – the usual mundane activities that fill the hours of most mothers.

It really irks me that I didn’t get that second hike in. I thought about how hikers in the Pacific Northwest must have to deal with sloshy, wet hikes. I even tried to convince myself that I could make friends with mud. But let’s face it, I’m a mom. I’ve spent the last fifteen years teaching my children how to avoid getting muddy, and old habits die hard. Clearly I am not a hard-core hiker. It’s strictly fair-weather hiking for me!

Even with the sun shining and my trusty canine companion by my side, the Crimson Trail was no cake walk. Before I even began my ascent up the trail, my knees and hips were already achey. I couldn’t help thinking back to the first time I climbed the Crimson Trail over sixteen years ago. Back then I was a young, energetic college student on a date with my future husband. This go-around as an overweight housewife couldn’t have been more different. When my heart raced and I became a bit breathless, this time I knew it was from the extra weight I’ve gained and not because I was simply in love.

Speaking of weight gain, last week I had a light bulb moment, an epiphany of sorts, while carrying a fifty-pound bag of rolled oats up the stairs from the basement. Carrying those fifty extra pounds up the stairs was hard work, leaving me tired and out of breath. It helped me realize that the extra weight I carry around all the time must have a similar effect on my body. How I’d love to drop my extra weight as quickly and easily as I dropped that bag of rolled oats.

Truth is, I haven’t dropped any pounds since starting my hiking adventure. I’m okay with that. A couple months ago I read, “Health at Every Size: The Surprising Truth About Your Weight.” It helped me to see that health is about more than just the number on the scale. I may never weigh what I did when I first hiked the Crimson Trail, but I still made it to the top. I went slower. I took more breathing breaks, and I learned a thing or two.

I learned that having the right equipment makes all the difference. I wore my tennis shoes, but while going down the steep switchbacks, I wished that I’d worn my hiking boots. The ankle support of a good hiking boot keeps your toes from jamming into the front of the toebox. After my first hiking article appeared back in February, I had a couple kind readers suggest that I use hiking poles to help take the pressure off my knees, especially when descending a hill. After the Crimson Trail descent, I finally took their advice. From what I’ve heard, the trip down the Wellsvilles is the toughest part of the hike. There’s no sense being a glutton for punishment.

Most importantly, I learned that the slower you hike, the more time you have to appreciate the spectacular scenery.


Suko said...

Christie, whenever I read about your hikes, and see the magnificent photos, I'm inspired to get outside and climb some mountains--or at least some hills. Thanks for sharing your experiences.

Have you ever tried geocaching? It turns a hike into a real adventure, and adds to the fun!

Science Teacher Mommy said...

When I was into running, I ran Spring Hollow and part of Crimson Trail once in the early summer. Absolutely lovely.

And there was a make out on a very cool rocky outcropping on that trail that was very nice and good. But it wasn't Plantboy, so that is all I'm going to say about that.

Needless to point out--FOND memories of Crimson Trail.

The super sweet life of Sammy said...

Loved the article. I heard about your heart troubles. Sam said you can't go on your hike tomorrow. I know it isn't the same but if you can I would love to go for a walk around the block with you. I hope you can get back to your hiking soon. Your awesome.

By the way this is Jenn

Flashlight Girl said...

Hiking poles, eh? Can you be my product tester? I'm a bit shaky on downhill anyway and if the poles are helpful, perhaps an investment is worthwhile. Also, our hike last week was in the mud and it stunketh! Good call on waiting for the sun to shine.

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