Thursday, July 31, 2014

Making Plans and Laying Down Routes

I had an awesome hike at Ridley Creek State Park last night. It is one of my favorite places to hike. The fact that it's so close to home is a huge plus but the park is so beautiful. The trails look so different in each season and in opposite directions. I could hike there every week and never get bored.

I want to set down some routes that I can repeat to gauge improvement. The elevation profile at RCSP is tamer than what I'll see at the Susquehanna Super Hike (SSH) but improvement is still improvement. I'd like the routes to be 6-7 miles. The longest section between checkpoints at the Super Hike is 7.2 miles and I want to get used to staying focused and moving for the time it will take to get from checkpoint to checkpoint. I need to maintain at least a 2.5 mile pace to finish in 12 hours but really I'll need a faster pace so there is time to stop at the checkpoints. These keep moving hikes will be a regular part of my weekday workouts starting next spring when my focused training for the event begins.

So last night was about setting a route. No stopping for photos or views. Just smiling and moving for the entire route. I left the mansion/park office parking lot on the Yellow trail. I jumped up on the White trail where the multi use trail goes under Sandy Flash Road and followed it counterclockwise back to the tunnel and then took the Yellow trail back to the mansion. I tried to start out easy and then after warming up maintain a moderate effort the entire route. Here is the Garmin data.

The route was 6.24 miles This was the first time I've hiked that distance determinedly and without any kind of stopping. And it helps that it's more like September than July weather this week. 3.3 mph average sets the starting bar high but that's ok. I felt good the whole way. I was able to keep a good rhythm even on the rockier and rootier parts. I know I'm still slowing down too much on downhills but I do feel like I'm slowing down less. I'll take the progress. I'd like these routes to be closer to 7 than this one was but it's good to have variety. I'll plot a new one next week. :)

Tonight I went to Ockehocking Preserve. (Garmin) Located on the other side of West Chester Pike and a little west of Ridley Creek State Park, the preserve is a combination of mowed, gravel and dirt paths. I walked for an hour, stopping to take photos and listen to the creek. I had a very draining day at work today and did not hydrate well. It showed on my walk. I still had a wonderful time. It was a nice way to let the day go!

Off day tomorrow and planned 5.5 hours on Saturday.

Keep smiling and keep moving.

Sunday, July 27, 2014

Hiking Pants

Early last week I purchased convertible hiking pants. I was very glad to have them as I made my way through the junglier parts of yesterday's hike. The added protection against overgrown paths was not one of the primary reasons I bought them, though. My main reasons were comfort and pockets. Until yesterday I hiked in running pants. On the trail this was fine but when my hikes or walks took me onto 'regular' roads I felt kinda conspicuous. Skin tight pants are not my thing unless I'm running in which case the practicality outweighs other concerns. So hiking pants are more comfortable.

They also have pockets. Something most running pants do not except for a tiny pocket suitable for a key or ID. Hiking I generally carry these items  --

-- in addition to my phone which I used to take the photo so it's not IN the photo.

I carry the phone to be able to call for help and it does act as camera as well. If I got super duper lost I could resort to the GPS too.

The keys should be obvious although technically I only need the car key. The house key could stay in the car.

The bank card and the cash have never been used but it's a habit I got into when I was training for the MS Walk in 2008. I feel better knowing that I could pop in a store and get more water if needed. This may be helpful as my hikes get longer if I don't come up with an alternative to the supplementing the Camelback.

The health insurance card I carry for the same reasons I wear a Road ID. Think about it, the Road ID is supposed to be in case I am injured and can't tell someone who I am or who to call. If I was hurt that bad I might need medical attention so I carry the card too.

The glasses - well I'm old. And since my 40's I've needed reading glasses. I can't read anything clearly - especially in black and white- without them. A trail map is useless to me without my glasses.

I have a case to carry the phone on my belt but I like it better in my pocket. Also I like to put the phone in a ziploc when on the trails to lessen the damage of falling in the creek. And I can't put it in a ziploc in the clip on case.

So I need pockets. :) The hiking pants have more pockets than I need but that's better than not enough.

For now I'm carrying food on the back of my Camelback. I figured out I can go about 4 hours on what I ate for breakfast. So at 3 hours I start taking in fuel. Right now 4 fig newtons each hour is working. I haven't gotten sick of them yet but I may have to look for alternatives just in case. I happen to have a couple of miniature drawstring pouches that I can hook on to the back of my Camelback. I put the fig newtons in a snack size ziploc bag inside the drawstring pouch. I thought of the ziplocs  to keep them dry in case of creek falling. But they protected against yesterday's rain to. :) I bring a hard boiled and some trail mix to eat on the ride home along with extra water.

I read some blogs from folks that hiked the Super Hike and they all said the aid stations had PayDay Bars! LOVE PayDay bars. :) I don't want to eat them every hour though. The sugar would probably get to me. But I can see using them for a quick burst of energy later in the hike. Mini PayDay bars will fit in a pocket :)

Next I need to look into shoes. My running shoes have been great on the trails and I intend to keep using them until they don't work anymore.But when it's time for new ones I'm thinking about switching to trail runners or hiking shoes. Not boots. I've had hiking boots and I do not like them. They are too heavy. In the next few weeks/months I'm going to shop for that next pair of shoes. If I find the right thing at a good price I'll grab them now. At the very least I'll have tried things out so that when I am ready to swap out the ones I have I'll be ready.

Saturday, July 26, 2014

Little Runaway

For whatever reason Bon Jovi's "Runaway" was going through my head during most of the second part of today's hike. *shrug*. Yeah, I don't always get what my head is up to either but it's as good as anything else for a title to today's post. Perhaps it hearkens back to my nine year old self who - if she had ever run away - would have headed to the woods for sure. :)

Today's hike was going to be on two parts of the Horseshoe Trail (HST) that I've hiked before - separately. We were meeting at French Creek Elementary School. On the drive out (about 45 minutes from our house) the clouds got thicker and darker. This was not part of the forecast. Rain and storms are due later today but the morning was supposed to be cool and cloudy. I knew I'd go out in the rain anyway but if I had expected the rain I might have worn a hat.

View to cross the creek
on the return trip. 
I arrived a bit before 8 and Rajiv and Arti pulled in just after me. We sat in our cars waiting for the teeming rain to let up. It was a little after 8 when it did and we set off. Rajiv posted a message on our FB group letting anyone else know we had left. The three of us headed west on the HST toward Warwick County Park. I had hiked this portion with Candy and Kristi Y. back in May. This morning since no other runners had shown up, Rajiv seemed content to hike with Arti and I. We arrived at the creek and made our way across and no one fell in. Our feet were wet though anyway from all the dew on the trail leading up to this point. [Candy and Kristi, this is the creek we detoured around when we hiked in May. After all the rain back then I think that was wise choice.] There was also a steady drizzle falling. Just as we got to the other side, Ken caught up with us. He did fall in (just his feet) but he said it felt good. :)  Ken and Rajiv went off to run while Arti and I continued our hike. We hiked through to the park and around its perimeter then rejoined the HST along County Park Road to head back.

View from the ridge along the
along the South side of Warwick
County Park. 
Arti - if she decides she likes hiking - is going to be a great adventurous hiker. This was her second week out and she had told me she wasn't quite ready for the hills last week. When we turned to climb up to the ridge along the County Park Road I could hear the skepticism in her voice when she asked if we were going up there. But she didn't whine or bail. And I could tell she was hiking stronger than last week. :) We met up with the boys where the HST meets the Charcoal Trail (CT). They ran off again and we proceeded up the hill again on the CT. I had not been on this before which is why I wanted to take it back. We met the boys again as the trail crossed Mt. Pleasant Road and we hiked together to re-cross the creek and return to our cars. The rocks we had used earlier had a different look from this angle and I was sure I was going to slip off this time. So I stepped into the creek where I thought I might fall. Ken was right, it felt good. :)

Back at the school I said goodbye to my friends and began the second part of the journey. I had just under 2 hours done and I wanted to do 5 today. So I decided to head east on the HST for an hour and a half and back. I had done this portion back in March with Maggi and Russ. I was a little nervous about taking it on again. In March we were knee deep in snow in some spots. Mostly it was mid calf or packed but a lot of it was deep. We encountered one spot where we lost the trail for a bit. Everything was all white, a marker had blown down and we did do a little backtracking before finding our way. I was concerned about having to manage that alone. However, when I got to that spot again I was just fine. It's way different in summer than winter. In summer you can see the space between the brush where the trail is supposed to go. Mind you in some places the growth was so thick it was barely noticeable but it was there. In winter it was all white and since most were not foolhardy enough to hike it in that weather there were little or no tracks to follow.

I struggled a lot back in March. I didn't know how much of it was the snow, the cold, the long layoff or the hills. It was probably all of the above and I'm happy to say I fared much much better today. I was surprised at how much of the trail I remembered. I was in such a sorry state last time. In my mind's eye I could only see mile after mile of white hills. As I hiked today though I recognized a lot of it.

 Today the trail was very green and a lot of it looked like these two photos. Maggi took a photo of the same spot as the first photo in March. It's the power line cut just East of the school. In March it looked like a ski slope. In these photos you can't see the trail. It was barely visible in reality too but enough that I could follow it.

I purchased hiking pants earlier this week and boy was I was grateful for long pants today. I would have had to turn back in these stretches if I had been trying this in shorts or Capri length running pants. Instead I put
my hands on my head and plowed through. It was fun :)

My hike today ended up being just under 5 hours. (Garmin info here) I was pleasantly surprised to see that the return hike was faster than the out portion. By more than 6 minutes! I left the school parking lot just before the 2 hour mark and turned around to come back at 3 hours and 31 minutes. The extra minute was because I realized I was going to hit another mile and so why not wait for that beep. Yeah I know. Roll your eyes if you must but some of you reading this would do the Exact. Same. Thing. ;)

Before today's hike I was wondering if I was not challenging myself enough. My goal is to put time on my feet and not worry about the climbs but was that enough? Well today was a good challenge. The elevation chart off my Garmin speaks for itself. Gary, an MLC buddy who has run the Super hike told me the the first 7-10 miles of the hike (in its current direction) is up down up down up down. And likely steeper than what I did today. I need to average 2.5 miles per hour to complete the Super Hike in the allotted 12 hours. I did just a little faster than that today but I have work to do if I'm going to be able to keep that up for 12 hours. I feel like I'm on a good track though.I do plan to spend the winter climbing and getting stronger doing that. I've got room for improvement and time to get there.

Ok this is long enough for now. Tomorrow I'll log what I ate, when and why; how my water held up; the other benefits of hiking pants and what I should do about shoes.

Keep smiling and keep moving! :)

Friday, July 25, 2014

How Does One Train for an Ultra Hike

This question - and many many variations of it - is one I've asked the Internet over the past few months. Compared to a search for "how to train for a marathon" - which produces more results than there are entrants in most major city marathons - the answers were few. Many searches brought up a lot of talk about training for thru-hikes on the Appalachian, Pacific Coast and Continental Divide trails and the best advice these gave was "go out and hike a lot" and "try to train on terrain similar to what you will find on the trail". While admittedly good advice, I did manage to figure this already.

I'm not sure what I'm looking for exactly. Vaguely I was hoping for some kind of "plan" to model my own plan after. My experience with marathon training taught me that there is no one size fits all plan. In fact there is a lot of contradicting advice even - and it can be overwhelming. So maybe it's a good thing that I have to make this up as I go along.

And then someone asked me, "How do you train for that?". I'm happy to share what I hope is going to work for me and let you know if it did.

Since May 24th, I've slowly but steadily (more or less) increased my time on my feet mostly on the trails.  My purpose is to build mental stamina as well as my legs' ability hold me up for the required time. So far so good and tomorrow I will go out for 5 hours. Halfway to my goal of ten hours by the end of October.

My ankle is almost all the way healed. There are only slight twinges at random movements. I'll be bringing along an ankle brace I have from a sprain a couple of years ago just in case. I'm hoping I won't need it but if I do it should provide the support I'll need.

Monday, July 21, 2014

Living the 9 Year Old's Dream

I started to write this yesterday but my mind sent my thoughts on a different track. Surprise, surprise.

When I was a kid I wanted and imagined adventure. I wanted to go beyond my known world. This is another reason why space travel and astronauts inspire me. But given my claustrophobic tendencies I am an earth bound adventurer. At first that meant going beyond a certain street, then a neighborhood and so on. When we moved from Havertown to Bala Cynwyd when I was 11 I would ride my bike back to Havertown partly because I missed my friends and cousins and partly because I wanted to see if I could. During car rides I would watch the hills go by just off the side of the road and think about climbing them. Just to see where I'd end up. I remember vacationing in the Poconos and wanted to head out into the woods and see how far I could get. My favorite book was "My Side of the Mountain" by Jean Craighead George.

My imagination was definitely encouraged by the space program and people walking on the moon. There seemed to be no limits to what people could do. I was not the kind of kid, though, who would announce "I'm going to do _______" and expect to be heard. It just wasn't who I was. For reasons I still don't completely understand nor do I really care anymore - I was overly shy and reserved. Sharing my personal thoughts and imagination would bring unwanted attention. Especially since I had no proof I could manage any of it. I felt I had to have the (right) answers to any questions or doubts all figured out before they were asked.

This does not surprise anyone who's been subject to my endless planning and lists. LOL

So the Super Hike is the adventure my 9 year old self wants to take. I think about that a lot on my hikes. When I'm deciding where to go or heading to the start of one I get giddy with excitement. When I start out I know there is an adventure waiting for me. Even on trails or routes I've done before. Every season is different. The people I meet are different each time. I have yet to be disappointed. Alone or in a group it's all good.

I'm still planning the hell out of training for the Super Hike but that's part of who I am now so it's ok. And it's almost as much fun as the actual training hikes. It's weird to call them training hikes. You know what "they" say - 'if you have a job that you love you'll never work a day in your life' or something like that. Well I love hiking so much that the training is not work at all. Training to run a marathon or other race was work. If it weren't for my running buddies I would have quit. Getting ready for this hike is easy peazy and does not feel like work at all.

Now if my ankle would just cooperate. :) Actually it's improving nicely. By Wednesday I should be able to test it on a level hike or walk.

Keep smiling and keep moving.

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Life is an adventure; enjoy the ride.

The photos to the left were scanned by my sister from Polaroid photos my dad took from the broadcast of the first men walking on the moon July 20, 1969. I was 9 years old. I was seriously inspired by these photos. In fact, space travel in general inspires me. What an adventure!

I am extremely claustrophobic so space travel is not in my future unless under the influence of mind numbing drugs and that kind of defeats the purpose. Yet, it still inspires me.

Astronauts study and train hard for this missions. They are exceptional in their dedication. But they are also 'just' people like you and me who had to figure out what to do. They had help, but so do most of us if we look for or ask for it.

Earlier this year, I read "An Astronauts Guide to Life on Earth" by Chris Hadfield. He's the Canadian space station commander who performed David Bowie's "Space Oddity" while on ISS. (Which is now available again on YouTube). I bought the book because I am a space nut. I enjoyed the book because it inspires me. Colonel Hadfield is only slightly different than the rest of us. He had a goal and he went for it. The path to being an astronaut was filled with bumps just like any other. Life in space was not without it's challenges either. I won't share them here. You can read the book. (I will loan it to you if you ask)

It doesn't matter what we want out of life (or if we want nothing). We'll all get there with thought and action. It won't always be easy but it never is. Even if others make it look easy or we think it looks easy for them. We aren't seeing the whole story.

At 9 years old, it was easy to be wowed by space flight and walking on the moon and think when I grow up I'm going to do things like that. At 54 it would be easy to look at Chris Hadfield (we are the same age) and think I've missed my chance to do things like that.

But I haven't. My life line is not as single directional as some might be. I've had to start over twice now. And just like you I'm still here. We should be proud of that. Keep smiling and keep moving.

Ok so this is not exactly where I thought this post was going to go when I started. Tomorrow I'll share how my 9 year old self is still motivating me today.

Thanks for reading.

Saturday, July 19, 2014

Red and Yellow and Pink and Green ...

Anybody recognize where that's from? If I tell you you'll start humming it in your head and not be able to get rid of it. Kinda like me right now! LOL But it's a song that often comes to mind when I look at the trail map for Ridley Creek State Park. There is no Pink or Green trail and the Red trail is being abandoned but I did spend a lot of time on the Yellow trail today. Along with Blue and the Horse trail.

I met the MLC group at 8 am. There were 8 of us including Rajiv's wife Arti who hiked with me. We had not met before so we had a great time for just under 2 hours hiking and chatting. She said she had a good time and I really hope she comes back out next week. I hope others come out too. It'd be great to get a hiking group going alongside the trail runners.

After I returned Arti to Rajiv and chatted with Destrie and Randy for a bit I went back into the park to finish my time for the day. Here is a link to Garmin where you can see my map I covered a lot of the yellow trail more than once today since it was the best way to get across the park to and from the other trails I wanted to travel. Arti and I did a loop on the yellow, blue and white trails and then I followed the yellow back toward picnic area #9 where I cut across to walk the horse trail. RCSP has stables and therefore a horse trail.

The horse trail is not much different than the other trails. A few less tree roots (a few), about the same amount of rocks and - of course - horse sh**. Actually there was less of that than I expected and it really doesn't' get in the way of a good hike. I mean let's face it horses don't dump small. It's kind of hard to miss. The only thing the horse trail could use is bit more signage. There was one part where I crossed a driveway with all kinds of 'keep out' signs and while it kinda sorta looked like the trail went across it wasn't clear and the trail on that side was all overgrown with grass up to my elbows. There wasn't any where else to go though so I was fairly certain it was the right way. It was.

As I came around the horse trail alongside Gradyville Road I cut off the trail and followed a driveway out to the road to head toward the mansion/park office to pick up the yellow trail off Sandy Flash Road and back to my car. At this point I was at 4 hours and I wanted to 4.5 hours today. I didn't want to push it too far past that and finishing off the horse trail would have done that.

I didn't want to push to far past 4.5 because I missed last week. I should have done 4 last week and 4.5 this week. I debated briefly last night what to do since it's also been ten days since I last hiked at all. Stormy weather and not feeling good (mostly sinus issues) kept me off my feet all that time. I had done the 8 hours to Independence Hall on July 4th with no ill effects. And the pavement is harder than trails so I figured I'd go for it. If I had to stop and rest so be it.

As it is I finished 13.13 miles in 4 hours and 48 minutes. I stopped the watch after the first set when we stood around chatting for a bit. I left it running all of the rest of the time. Even on event day I will have to stop and stretch and pee and the 12 hour clock won't stop for any of that. I felt great the whole time. No hip or knee issues. My mind was in the game and I think I hydrated well too.

My camel-back has reached its limit though. I may have had about a half hour of hiking left in it. I'm going to need to go back to my car now to refill or carry a pack with more water in it. For now I can do routes that take me back to the car but at least for my 10 hour hike in October I'd like to do out and back (5 hours each way) or ideally point to point so I'll need to figure out how to carry more or arrange drops. Figuring out what works is what this training is all about. So far so good. I ate fig newtons at the 2 and 4 hour marks. That seemed to work well too. The aid stations on the Super Hike are approximately 6-7 miles apart so refueling every 2 hours is good spacing.

All in all it was an almost perfectly awesome day. The only downside was tweaking my ankle. After all the tree roots, rocks, climbing over downed trees and climbing and descending the hills in the park I was fine. When I went cut off the trail to the road I thought I'd walk on the grassy shoulder of the road to avoid cars and because it was softer. A few steps in I stepped in a hole and twisted my right ankle. I had no choice though to go back to my car. And the quickest way was cross country in the park. It was fine climbing but on the downhill every time I stepped on a rock or root (which are hard to miss) it twinged.

I iced it as soon as I got home and I've repeated that several times. I have it elevated and wrapped in an ankle compression sleeve between icing. It hurts like the crazy at the moment. I seriously want to cry. I can't find a position that it doesn't hurt. Even elevated. :( It didn't feel this bad when it happened. Then again, maybe it did but having no choice but to get back to the car my mind refused to feel it.

So I hiked the all the trail colors of the park and now I'm just hoping my ankle is not all sorts of colors tomorrow. Hopefully I'll be back up and walking well again for next week at Warwick County Park for another hike.

I want to say keep smiling but it's hard at the moment. And moving....yeah well maybe later.

Sunday, July 6, 2014

Rest Day(s)

I thought about going to hike at Smedley Park today. It was hard to resist the urge since it is yet another gorgeous day. I feel good. My right hip is a little buzzy but hiking doesn't bother it they way the bike does. Still, I know I need to rest, stretch and strengthen my glutes, hamstrings and hip flexors if I want to keep hiking, biking, smiling and moving. And I do.

I recalled the exercises the PT gave me last year and did a set this morning along with some yoga. the difference between my right and left legs is significant. I'm going to do two more sets today and aim for two a day on weekdays. Not so easy to do all of them at work but there a few stretches and yoga poses I can do at my desk that won't flash anyone. LOL There's always the handicap stall in the bathroom if there are any raised eyebrows (or bigwigs in the office) but I still won't do any lying on the ground exercises there!

I have a hike planned for Wednesday at Ridley Creek State Park. And my goal the next three days is to start a routine of stretching and strength work which will carry far beyond Wednesday.

So this morning I skipped the hike, did some PT and cleaned the bathroom. Oh joy!

Saturday, July 5, 2014

Longest Bike Ride

Today I drove to and parked at the Heinz Wildlife Refuge parking lot just off route 420 and rode the East Coast Greenway into Delaware. An argument could be made that I should have ridden the bike all the way from home. But from home to the parking area is about 14 miles round trip. That would have taken a huge chunk out of my miles for the day. Maybe another day.

I hadn't planned any activity today. I figured I'd see how I felt after yesterday's Independence Day Walk and go from there. I slept until 8 this morning and my legs felt fine. We stopped frequently to stretch yesterday and I stretched again when I got home. Stretching matters. :)

Since I had no plan for today it took me the better part of an hour from decision to pulling away from home. Including coming back in the house twice (once after about a block away) to pick up things I had forgotten. This is why I make lists folks and why when I do have a plan or idea in mind I lay everything out the night before.

It was a gorgeous day for a bike ride. Once again another gorgeous summer weekend. Arthur has completely left the area so we had bright sunshine and low humidity and on top of that low temps as well.

The ECG portion that I was on more or less follows 291 in PA and Gov Printz Blvd in Delaware. The PA portion except for the part that goes onto the Chester Waterfront Trail is kind of boring. 291 is also known as the Industrial Highway and does live up to it's name. Still it was a pleasant ride on a such a beautiful day. The part along the waterfront was particularly stunning.

So who knew that Delaware has hills? Not big ones mind you. I've done bigger hills in and around Media. But when one is cruising along flat road for 12 miles and then has to climb out of seemingly nowhere....well it's a surprise. At the top of the 'hill' was a nice long descent back to the river level.

At 15 miles I looked for the next safe spot to cross over the 4 lane road and began the return trip. The return up the long slow hill was not all that much fun but I'm proud to say I made it without getting off the bike. Same for the rise over I-95 just before reaching the car.

For most of the ride my right quad was burning. It bothered me last weekend too. Last weekend I quit after 8 miles this weekend I figured I'd keep going since there was so much flat. The discomfort made those measly hills painful. Although the flats did not provide much relief. I'm pretty sure the pain is my quad muscle rebelling for having to work overtime because my hamstrings and hip flexors are weak/tight on that side. I stopped frequently to stretch everything with extra attention on hamstrings and hip flexors and while that helped it only provided short term relief. :( I need to pay attention to these more for the long haul.

And I will. But for now I'm excited to have reached a milestone on the bike. 30 miles! Yay me. It was slow. I'm slow. I'd love to get stronger and faster eventually. For now I'm happy to be able to ride comfortably and - bit by bit - a little longer.

Click here for more photos from today's ride

Friday, July 4, 2014

8 Hours to Independence Hall

Today I made my second trip in two years from Media to Independence Hall. Unlike last years' trip, this year I had company. Kathy, Maria, Maritza, Mike, Sara & I met at the Media Train Station and walked from there. 

When my kids were little the standard answer to "How long will it take to get there?" was 8 hours. So it was natural for me to say that when someone in the group asked how long it would take us to get there. In the end, it really did take 8 hours. We left the train station area about 8 am and arrived at Independence Hall just about 4 p.m. Considering the bathroom stops, water refill stops, stops to visit the Aldan 4th of July Parade and a leisurely lunch at City Tap Room we made pretty good time. According to Sara's fit-bit we traveled 17.88 miles, walked 43,534 steps and climbed the equivalent of 61 flights of stairs. 

And we had a really good time doing it. 

The before photo
at our first stop about a mile in at Wawa in Media 

The after photo
17+ miles later at Independence Hall

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Wednesday Swim on Misery and Joy

Very humid tonight. Heat indexes during the day hovered around 105. I'm not sure what it was at 4:45 when we headed off. Three of the MLC gang were there to run I was hiking. Under the tree cover of Misery and Joy the air was thick but still better than the open desert conditions elsewhere in Valley Forge Park.

I set out first along the Valley Creek Trail to begin my climb on the Wolfinger Trail. This was much easier to climb than it was to descend last week. But I will master the descent eventually. I  climbed on Wolfinger, Misery and the Horseshoe Trail to the top of Misery before turning around and following the HST all the way down to route 23. From there I crossed 252 to go up and over Joy back to my car. This outing was measured in miles, time and sweat (felt like gallons).

I experimented with short running steps on the downhills today. In hiking mode I catch my toes on the rocks often. Short running steps keep my feet higher off the ground which seems to help. I felt more stable on the downhill this way too. There are portions of all these trails where the obstacles are too close together but I did what I could. On the few smooth downhills I let gravity take over and jogged down. I had to switch between jogging and high stepping a lot but it worked.

A day off tomorrow whether I planned to or not as it is supposed to be rainy and stormy all day. Friday a bunch of us are walking to Independence Hall. It will be fun to do that with company this time.