To backpeddle just a smidge: This hike serves as a training hike for an upcoming Rim To Rim To Rim trek of the Grand Canyon with Project Athena Foundation. It deserves its own post - so I'll do that in the near future.
What is important about this Appalachian adventure - are the reminders of lessons that I seem to forget all too quickly...
Lessons Learned (or Remembered):
- You can do more than you think. I'm a huge proponent of biting off more than I can chew. Seems reckless at times - but so far this sink or swim approach has continued to work for me. Forcing yourself beyond your comfort zone is where & when you figure out what you are made of.
- Recovery. After a steep climb, my heart rate is really elevated. I used to think that meant I wasn't in shape - and while it can - what I've learned to watch is how well my body recovers from spurts of exertion. If you can haul-ass - but then can recover in a fairly short amount of time - then you are on the right track. A heart rate monitor has really helped me to pay closer attention to my recovery periods. I actually have gained confidence in my fitness by seeing my recovery periods improve.
- Strength is useful everyday. Functional strength and plyo aren't just trendy - they are everywhere. From climbing up hills, squatting to retrieve a dropped pole while wearing a 30 pound pack, balancing your weight on a wobbly rock, regaining control from a slide or leaping over creeks - stronger people really are harder to kill :).
- Take one step at a time. It turns out - for this hike a Squatch would have had to have been standing on the trail passing out drinks for me to notice him. Because of the rocky terrain - you couldn't look up. Our entire day - there are five total pictures - and I'm pretty sure most of those were taken on the one short 100 yard stretch of smooth path. The rest of the 13.1 miles and more than 8,000 feet of ascent climbing - your eyes had to focus on each foot/pole placement. I tend to fixate on the end point instead of each step of the way. I think that is largely why it's been so easy to get derailed and disheartened at times throughout my quest for fitness.