Yesterday's hike started late - 11:00 a.m. - because I had to work a few hours in the morning. It was raining all night and still a little drippy at 11 at Valley Forge. The rain was dragging a cold front with it that would bring temps in the low 40s for most of us before Sunday morning. Timing is everything though and I was throwing lots of alternatives in my bag before I left for work.
I settled on short sleeves with rain/wind shell and a regular hat. Along with hiking pants and shoes of course. I chose wisely it turns out. The precipitation had all but left by the time I started and the shell kept my torso warm which was needed at the beginning. The temperature climbed as I hiked - probably to about 70 or so - but the extra layer was not uncomfortable and when the wind started to pick up later I was glad to have it.
I hiked 17.5 miles in just under 6 hours yesterday. I felt good. Especially after having to cut short my hike two weeks ago and bailing completely last weekend. This weekend I felt good about my hydration/electrolyte balance and fueling during the hike. My legs were feeling the layoff but I had good energy and spirits throughout.
This morning I went to Ridley Creek a little more layered than yesterday. It wasn't quite 50 when I started out. I had long sleeves, the shell and a head band under my hat. I could have used gloves for the first mile. It was a gorgeous fall day in the park.
I started out just fine. My legs were recovered from yesterday. I didn't feel any muscle soreness. But they felt wobbly. It's hard to explain exactly. That feeling went away though. But about 1.5 hours in the rest of me started feeling dizzy and clammy. :(
Despite feeling OK yesterday I don't think I properly cared for myself after the hike. I should have hydrated more when I got home, I should have eaten more when I got home and should have done more of both before heading out this morning.
In hindsight, I also think I overdid it yesterday. The distance was fine but I pushed too hard. My goal on the long hike right now is supposed to about time - not distance or pace. I was pushing the pace yesterday. Consciously, I was concerned about getting back to the parking lot before dark (having started later than usual) and the risk of getting locked in. To be honest though, I was also constantly pushing back thoughts of making up for the missed and shortened workouts. I knew I shouldn't and tried to ignore them but they were there and were difficult to shut down. But hey, I'm human and we are a competitive bunch. Even if it is only with ourselves. So I'll forgive myself, hope I've learned my lesson and move on.
The thing is, I'm worried about the 10 hour hike on October 25th. Since I want to do a one way hike I need to calculate as close as possible the distance I can cover in that time and get dropped off at the far point to work my way back. Since I will not have done more than 6.25 hours by then I wonder how much steam I'll lose going for 10 and that will affect the mileage.
The plan is to go one way east on the HorseShoe Trail. If I underestimate I'll get back to Valley Forge too early and have to do circuits around there to make up the time. I'm not sure I won't just bail and go home though. I could stick with my original estimates and simply get picked up short of Valley Forge if necessary. That is likely what I'll do but it's not 100% certain yet.
Keep smiling and moving