Sunday, February 23, 2020

No Substitute - Get Out And Hike - Hiking Post #3

As I prepare for my trek in the Colombian Andes mountains in May, I’m trying to figure out gear, food, safety, and fitness. There is one thing that everyone’s been telling me...”Get out and hike!”

I’ve been pretty disciplined when it comes to weight lifting and riding my bike for cardio, but I needed to get on the trail and try out some local hikes. Good thing I listened! I have a whole set of sore muscles that I didn’t even know existed! I’m finding out that 58 years old is not the same as 30, or even 40 for that matter. I may not be able to roll back the clock, but I’m determined to push myself with a set of goals that helps me keep up with the youngsters!

This past week I hiked Mount Woodson trail to Potato Chip rock with a twist...I hiked it with my 12 year old grandson, 10 year old granddaughter, and my 6 year old niece! This is a 7.6 mile up and back hike with a 2,000 foot climb. I knew I could do it, but wasn’t sure about the rest of the hiking party.

Making a memory with my grandson!
We got about 1/4 of the way up the hill, well past the last Port-a-potties, and mother nature was calling the littlest one in the pack. Well, let’s just say she conquered that fear with flying colors and got a whole new burst of energy...enough to make it to the top at Potato Chip Rock! I was SO PROUD of these guys! That was no joke of a hike for a 6 year old! I think my grandson could have kept going for days!

On Saturday, I went with a pack of my adult friends to Mount Wilson trail in Angeles National Forest. I was a little nervous about this one as there is a 5640 foot ascent up a 7 1/2 mile trail. When I first started, I could feel my heart pumping. I wasn’t sure if I’d be able to keep the pace with these guys as they had way more hiking experience than I did. But off we went! Even though it was cool outside and overcast, I could feel myself getting drenched with sweat. Good thing I brought lots of water!

After we had hiked about a mile, we took our first short break. I had all kinds of thoughts going through my head. What did the rest of the trail look like? Was it going to be one giant staircase to the top, or would we ever get a little bit of a flat section? What if I got so tired that I would lose my footing and fall off a cliff? There were a few sections where that could have happened. I just kept saying to myself, “just keep putting one foot in front of the other and stay focused.”

We finally made it to the top. My feet and body were sore, but the feeling of making it to the top was great! Once at the top, the cold weather started to set in. Hail was coming down and the wind was blowing. My shirt was soaked, and I quickly reached into my backpack to pull out my puffer jacket and rain jacket so I could get warm. I underestimated the weather at the top of the mountain. I wish I would have brought gloves and a beanie. Next time I’ll remember.

Sometimes you can’t learn things until you actually do them. You can read about needing to go on a hike to build up your endurance, but you can’t really understand walking on uneven dirt and rocks until you do it! You can read about doing lunges to build strength in your legs, or running to build up your cardio, but getting on the trail gives you the real picture of how strong your legs are, and how good your cardio is. After hiking with my buddies, I knew I was making progress, but I had a long way to go before I could trek the Andes mountains.

In the end, it was a good couple of hikes, but my friends were more fit than I was at this point in time. They were gracious with my pace, but I’m determined to keep improving my fitness and my hiking! My goal now is to be able to run up those trails, which means I’d better add a bunch of trail runs into my fitness. Time to put in the work!

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