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! :)






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