Saturday, August 30, 2014

Break's Over

After ten days vacation with Dave entertaining our soon to be 12 years old grandson and a total of about 2 weeks off hiking I'm back.

I biked briefly on Monday. Very briefly but enough to get my blood moving. I hiked with Sara on Wednesday at Misery and Joy, biked about an hour on Thursday and today I met Sara and Michael at Heinz Refuge. I hiked they ran. When I arrived there just  before 8 am I realized that I had never been there in Summer before. My previous visits were in late winter or early spring. The vegetation growth and color of all the flowers was startling! Fortunately the paths were clear. I completed 9 miles. And because it was so flat I was done in less than 3 hours despite lots of stops to enjoy the views.

I wore my new pack today. I didn't that much water or cargo space for 3 hours but I wanted to get the feel of it. It fits me perfectly! The only negative reviews I could find on this pack mentioned chafing on the neck. I did not have any of that. Not even a light rub. I seem to have the perfect torso length for it. It was very comfortable. I tried it in different spots on my back just to see and felt good all around.

I did have a little bit of tension across my back just below my shoulders. I attribute a little of this to carrying double the water weight and a little to being away from hiking for so long - not carrying anything on my back. However, the undeniable truth is that I have a upper body and core. I need to commit to more work there.

The hike itself was uneventful. My legs and feet held up fine despite the lay off. I was a little uncomfortable at the end but I think that's because of the lack of climbing. I've noticed that I do better when there are hills mixed in. Who'd a thunk it, huh?

Tonight I'm meeting the group for ice cream miles at Peace Valley Park. :)

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

New Hydration Pack

My new hydration pack arrived! It will hold twice as much water and has enough storage space to accommodate a full day hike without having to hike circles around a home base or pre-determined stops. I'm excited to try it out.

It's funny how these things work, though. The package was waiting on our doorstep when I arrived home after Sunday's 11 mile AT hike. Until that hike I was still debating whether I really needed the bigger pack. Even though I had thought about it for weeks and researched the heck out of the idea before ordering it, I was still going back and forth regularly on keeping it vs returning it. But Sunday's hike helped me realize it was a good investment after all.

Sunday's hike was shorter than Saturday's. Yet I took in the same volume of water and food. In fact, it would have been nice to have an additional something to eat on Sunday but I was carrying all that I could manage. The climbing and those darn boulders took more out of me than my previous outings. And had it been a typical hot August day I would have been in trouble.

My hesitance about keeping the larger pack was mostly me wondering how often I would actually need an all day pack. Sunday showed me that I could use the larger size even for a shorter day. It will be nice to have the ability to shed layers and store them in the fall and spring too.

I'm looking forward to trying it out. I could find no bad reviews of it online - and tried hard to find one. It will be heavier I'm sure but that comes with the territory. Here is a link to the Camelback Helena 22 at I didn't order it from REI but this page has the most detail. Scroll down for more. 

Mine is purple. 

Keep smiling and keep moving

Sunday, August 10, 2014

Used But Not Abused

Today's hike was shorter than yesterday's but in many ways more strenuous. Yet I feel way better. I'm convinced now that yesterday's struggles were in large part due to the lack of activity between weekends.

I can feel today's hike for sure but I feel used but not abused. My legs and feet are buzzing not sore. Here's why -

This was a section of trail rocks/boulders we had to climb down. Now take that photo rotate it 90 degrees away so that the boulders are in a horizontal line. That's what the trail was like for almost all of  miles 2-7. Every now and then there was a smoother part that look liked this

and a few real teasers that looked like this

but for most of that five mile stretch it was all boulder hopping all the time. I fell only once. I had several arm flailing saves but I only fell once. :)

After the boulder fields we had four miles to go and it was more or less boulder free but rocky. However, after the boulders the rocky stretch felt like sponges to our feet. This is evident in miles 8,9,10 and 11 where our pace got progressively quicker. (Garmin info here)

Take a look at the elevation chart for this hike. Go ahead I'll wait. :) Yeah, see that? About 1000 feet in 2.5 miles and we pretty much kept moving the whole way. A brief stop at 2 miles to make sure everyone was still with us (there were 9 of us) but really only enough for the hike leader to count heads. No one wanted to lose momentum.

A couple of the people on this hike have done the Super Hike and they say it's steeper and more repetitive ups and downs. But that's ok. I'm gonna be ready. I was sweating on that climb today and my heart was going harder than it does on climbs around here but my legs did great and I recovered pretty quick at the top. I've got a lot of work to do, I know, but I'm feeling good about my progress.

Those boulders though.... I suck at boulder hopping.....but I did great everywhere else - and I climbed better than most in our group. Not bad for an old lady dork! :)

In two days I've gone 27+ miles in 10+ hours. I'm really surprised at how good I feel. I expected to be sore and exhausted. I did a lot of stretching yesterday. It really does help. My plan is to get out Tuesday and Wednesday for some hiking locally but then I'm off for 14 days while we take our 11 year old, soon to be 12 year old, grandson** Dawson all around the area and then-some. I'll be on my feet a fair amount but it won't be the same. In fact, in some ways stand around, move some and wait is harder.

Keep smiling and keep moving.

** Just to be clear, while I am old enough to be a grandmother I'm not really old enough to be Dawson's. I was 15 when his mother was born. Second marriages do strange things to the family tree. That being said, I'm looking forward to his visit.

Saturday, August 9, 2014

A Battle of Wills and I Won!

I do not feel as good after today's hike as I did last week. More on that later, though, because there are lots of good things to talk about first.

I has an appointment to meet MLC at Valley Green Inn at 8:00 a.m. so I set my alarm for 6:30. I was wide awake at 5:30 so I got up and drove to the Northwestern Avenue entrance to Forbidden Drive instead and walked along the creek to Valley Green. I was there early still so I climbed the hill a bit and ended up with my first hour done before 8. I was curious to see who would show up today. There were a variety of responses to our FB event. All told there were about a dozen of us. Some hikers, some trail runners who had been running since 6 a.m. and decided to join us for some hiking and some recovering from injury trail runners who figured hiking was better than not doing anything. I love this group! :) 

We hiked up to the statue of Teedyuscung, a tribute to the Lenape Indians. I chatted with Christine D most of the way. She asked if I had been a runner and the conversation took off from there. I learned that MMT was her first 100 miler and that she intends to do Grindstone which has TWO!! overnights. Wow. I told her about my plan to do the Super Hike and the need to find elevation practice. She suggested Mt. Tammany off the Delaware Water Gap. I am definitely going to check it out. 

At the statue the trail runners all got down and did push ups. It's a 'thing' they do.When asked if I was finished I replied "No, I'm supervising. Making sure no one cheats". ;) Most of us hiked back to Valley Green after that. Two hours done, I had 4 to go. I started up the Yellow Trail and headed toward the far end  (from where I parked) of the Forbidden Drive at Lincoln Avenue. There are lots of trails up on the hillside and I saw one that looked interesting and off I went. I'm not sure how I did it but I ended up coming down a washed out gully rather than the trail. I crabbed walked most of the way down to avoid going head first. Once I figured out that would work I had fun. I took this photo after I got to the bottom.The photo does not do the steepness justice. It was like this and worse in switch backs all the way down. 

I come out on Forbidden Drive around mile 3.5 and crossed over to pick up the trail on the other side. Once at the Lincoln Drive end I walked the drive back to Valley Green and then picked up the creek-side orange trail back to the covered bridge. The orange trail is very rocky between Valley Green and the covered bridge. Well it's rocky everywhere at Wissahickon but this section in particular had a lot of this .... 

And a lot of this so it's all good

I made my way back to my car in 5  hours and 52 minutes. The plan was for 6. Close enough. 

At the 3 hour mark today I started to feel it in my legs. I kept going because I need to push through when I'm tired. It could happen on Super Hike day too. And with the tag line "Keep smiling and keep moving" I kinda had to. :) And if I had decided to 'go back' at that point I probably would have made it back to my car at the 5 hour mark anyway and then I'd be pissed all day that I didn't do the extra hour. 

So why was today such a struggle? It could have been a couple of things. I think the likely major reason is that I did NOTHING since last week's hike. It's also possible my shoes are closer to needing replaced than I thought. But the soreness in my feet could be all the rocks and roots. The elevation gain was the most to date but not by huge amounts. I did sweat more than recent weeks. That could be a factor although I thought I kept up the same hydration pace and took more salt tabs. 

And I may have just psyched myself out when I started feeling it at 3 hours in knowing that I hadn't done anything for a week and knowing that I should have...... the mind can be a formidable foe! But I won. ;) IN the end my average speed was only slightly slower than last week! :) Here is the Garmin info. 

I give myself big-time points for taking these at 14:5 miles and 5 hours in .... 

I even came home and did chores. I need to rest up now. Tomorrow I'm going to meet a group to do 11 miles-ish on the AT near Hawk Mountain. 

Keep smiling and keep moving. :) 

Saturday, August 2, 2014

Why Did the Turtle Cross the Trail?

Well the answer should be obvious. He (she?) was on one side of the trail when I passed in one direction and had managed to cross over when I came back.

I'm really psyched about today's hike. I hit the 15 mile mark at 5 hours and 18 minutes. I kept a running clock all day so this includes stopping to take photos, a stop at the restroom and some stretch stops. The SSH is 29.6 miles with a 12 hour time limit. At today's pace I have an hour and a half to spare. And I have 13 months left to train. Plenty of time to get stronger on hills. I'm pretty excited. Here's the Garmin info. The map is not a very good representation of how much fun I had.

The best is that I felt good most of the way. Hydration and fuel were not a problem. I didn't quite pass the pee test at my restroom break but it was only a borderline fail. And could very well be due to the fact that I waited waaaaaay too long to stop. I did the first 1.5 hours with Arti while Michael M and Rajiv ran. My plan was to leave them and go up Mount Misery from Yellow Springs Road down the other side to route 23 then over the Washington's HQ to stop at the rest room. But as I started up the mountain, I started wandering on trails I hadn't been on before. I ended up coming down the same side I started on. I could have climbed over Mount Joy then to HQ. But as I came off the trail there was another one calling me across the street. I ended up circling this gigantic meadow. There was a wide mowed path all the way around just begging to be walked. I wasn't sure if I was still on park property but I didn't see any no trespassing signs so I kept going. I saw this beautiful buck standing in the middle of the meadow.

The camera on the phone has a horrible zoom. But trust me it looked like a commercial for that insurance company.

So I blame the wandering on my inner 9 year old. :) and by the time I finally did get to the restroom it was 2 hours later. My pace was a bit slower just before that. It's hard to hike well when your legs and eyes are crossed.

The only true negative today was forgetting to stop and stretch out my back earlier. About 9-10 miles in my back started to ache. I really should have stopped to stretch it sooner. Especially since I was walking a lot of flat between miles 7-10. My back loves to climb. On flats I have to stop frequently to stretch. When I got off the Chapel Trail (after the rest room break) and climbed Mount Joy back to the car my back responded beautifully to the stretch of my hamstrings and lowering of my center of gravity. Seriously I felt like a new person.

I thought I was going to be going up and down joy and across the chapel trail repeatedly to get my time in today. That would have been OK I enjoy them all but instead I wandered on new trails. And despite the delayed bathroom break I I had a blast today!

Keep smiling and keep moving. :)

Friday, August 1, 2014

Random Thoughts on a Rest Day

So not all these thoughts came today rather they've been accumulating and there hasn't been room or opportunity to put them in recent posts.

"I took a walk in the woods and came out taller than the trees" -Henry David Thoreau. I saw this quote a little while ago and I love it. This really is how I feel after a good long hike.

Several times in recent weeks I've felt like running. I'm not going back to running but the desire to run on the trail is a good sign:
a) to be able to think about running again and not feel overwhelmed at the thought is a sign - to me anyway - that my fitness is returning.
b) after DST ends available trail hours - especially on weeknights - will be short. A trail run might work best from time to time.
c) trail runs will be a good way to get my heart rate up and build aerobic endurance. I'll need that to keep moving on the climbs at SSH.

I got a nice message from Pete (MLC founder and local trail guru) complimenting me on my training and suggesting I do the hike this year. That was awesome to hear but I am sticking with my plan for 2015. I have admit to thinking about trying a (shorter) trail event or two between now and then. Only if the timing and how I feel is right.

Here are some photos from past SSH events. These give a good idea of what the trail and the views will be like. Photo #6 is a little unnerving but it won't keep me from doing the event.

Tomorrow's hike is being threatened by an unsettled forecast. The only thing the various reporting outlets can agree on is that it will rain. As long as it's not monsooning, thundering or lightening I'll be out there.

Keep smiling and keep moving......