New Record, New Goals

Lord willing, in just 3 months, I’ll be several days into my thru hike of the Tahoe Rim Trail.

Three months! Gah! It’s coming up so fast! (Really hoping and praying that Covid-19 will be under control by then!)

If you follow me on Instagram, you’ll know that after my Havasu Falls hike – yeah I’m still planning a blog post for that – I took about a 3 week break from hiking. And then I realized my TRT hike was creeping up on me and I got back to it. But I wasn’t very consistent.

So I gave myself a challenge. I did not publicize the challenge or talk about it much other than with my immediate family. But I challenged myself to go for a walk/hike every day in the month of April.

Every.

Single.

Day.

No matter what.

Hiking on our property with the kiddos 4/1/20
Solo hike in the canyon below our house 4/30/20

I am proud to say that I was (for the most part) successful. There were 2 days when for one reason or another I just didn’t get a hike in. But that means that I went for 28 hikes in the month of April! Now, many of them were only a mile long. And I didn’t even start carrying a day pack until half way through, but I was out there (in the canyon behind my house – mostly on my own property because #socialdistancing and #stayinghome and #quarentine), and I was training. And here’s the thing. It may not seem like a mile a day is much, but I’ve learned that it does help. Today I went for a 2.25 mile hike with 630′ elevation gain. Just a couple weeks ago, that would have been a lot harder on me than it was today (nearly all the elevation gain/loss was in the first and last quarter mile!).

Steep and rugged descent! 4/30/20

And you know what else happened? I set a new personal record for the number of miles I’ve hiked in a single month! My previous best was 27.05 miles. As of today, April 30th, I am wrapping up the month with 37.35 miles – a full 10.3 miles more! And that’s by doing baby steps.

So where do we go from here? Well, I definitely know I do better when I have a challenge the meet. So I’m setting a new one: 40 miles in the month of May. #40mileMay #MoreMilesInMay

Exploring the canyon below our house 4/30/20

April’s challenge was about frequency, May’s is just about getting in the miles no matter how. In fact, I need to start going on longer hikes, but I don’t have time to hike higher miles every day. That’s the main reason why many of my hikes in April were only 1-1.5 miles. I am so busy. Yes, even during quarentine. We are a homesteading, homeschooling family and we’re building our own house. We are busy! So by doing more miles on fewer days, I can have more days to devote solely to projects around the house. And I get in those much needed longer hikes.

So yes, more miles in the month of May. Including some longer hikes. And loading up the big pack once more and taking it out on the trail.

And I gotta get the family hiking more, too. They are going with me for the first several days of my thru hike. They need to get in shape, too! And we have plans to go camping on our property to test out all our gear once the weather warms up a bit more.

On a family hike on our property 4/18/20
Solo hike in the hills above my house 4/24/20

Oh, and I’m still continuing with the 52 Hike Challenge. I only count my daily hikes toward that challenge if they feel like a real hike, not just a walk in the “neighborhood”. Usually that means more than an hour of hiking, taking my pack, and doing a bit of exploring, etc. Today’s hike was #23. With my new goal for May, I’m sure I’ll be logging in quite a few more “official” hikes. So far, I’ve gone on 23 official hikes and logged 69+ official miles since November 12, 2019.

Oh! And speaking of miles logged, I recently surpassed 100 miles for the year! That’s right, as of today, I have hiked 103.65 daily/training miles since January 1st! I totally didn’t realize it on the day I hit 100 miles or I would have taken a celebratory picture. All I got were some pretty wildflowers.

It’s good to have goals. It’s good to achieve them. It’s good to feel accomplished. And it’s good to set new ones, to always have something to be striving toward.

2019 year-end hiking review

Last hike of 2019
12/31/19 Hike 9 of 52
2 miles
Total miles so far: 24.3 since starting the 52 Hike Challenge on 11/12/19

I wasn’t consistent at all with my 2019 training hikes during the summer, so I didn’t log nearly as many miles as I thought I would, but I’m pretty pleased with what I did accomplish – especially considering that I only hiked somewhat consistently during 6 months (Jan-Apr & Nov-Dec), and I didn’t go on very many longer hikes as I had hoped.

2019 # of days logged on trail: 82
Average mile/hike: 1.8
Total 2019 miles hiked: 145.1

But it is now 2020, and time for some new goals. Obviously with my thru-hike of the Tahoe Rim Trail coming up this year, I will log more miles than last year. But I need to up my miles long before then! I need to start getting in 5-10 mile hikes on a weekly basis. My plan for the TRT is 8-12 miles per day (depending on water sources). The longest daily hike I’ve done in recent years was 6 miles, and that was back in November. Gotta do better!

Here’s to the start of more training!

Discovery Beauty: an unexpected benefit of my training

In my last post, I mentioned that a couple of the hikes I have been on recently were on an urban trail in the outskirts of town.

I had been avoiding that trail for a long time because it is “urban”. By looking at the trail on satellite photos and reading descriptions, I always cued into the fact that the trail is essentially lined with houses. When I go hiking, I like to be out away from town and civilization. It also looked rather barren and boring since there wouldn’t be much of a view seeing that it was down in a ravine. Some of the descriptions mentioned trees and it being a pretty trail, but I didn’t have very high hopes. But in trying to find a trail which I hadn’t been on that wasn’t already covered in snow, I finally decided to check it out. And was very pleasantly surprised.

The creek is rather substantial, and is lined with aspens, cottonwood, willow bushes, and wild roses.

Yes, the rim of the creek ravine is lined with the back yards of the neighborhood houses, but the burbling of the creek easily shut out the noises of town, and the beauty of the creek and the trees eclipsed the fact that there was no view to speak of.

It is a beautiful little gem, and so accessible.

But I wasn’t really expecting much from the next trail I decided to explore. I knew from the descriptions that the only trees along the route were at the very end (the turn around point), but that the attraction at the end (a man-made irrigation canal that comes straight out of the side of the hillside) is pretty cool.

Again, I was very pleasantly surprised.

So, on December 28, I decided to explore this trail that had intrigued me since I first heard about it.

A slightly overcast sky lent a beautiful light to the rolling hills around me.

Up near the irrigation canal, the hills level off a bit and you can see for miles.

At the very end of the trail, there is a small stand of trees, which after miles of nothing but sagebrush, seems magical.

The canal exit from the hillside is not nearly as awesome as described when there’s no water rushing from it.

A lone pine tree sits along the canal.

As I traveled back along the canal on my way toward the car, I saw another trail that headed down through a little rolling valley. I quickly checked the GPS map on my phone and saw that I could take that trail back toward the trailhead.

As beautiful as it was in early Winter, I just couldn’t help imagining what it would be like in the Spring. Crystal clear blue skies, warm sun, green grass covering those hills, dotted with wildflowers.

Yeah, you can bet we’ll be headed back there in, say, April or May!

Or even having a picnic under these trees in the summer. Or playing in the creek.

This trail ended up being just over 3 miles and it took me 1½ hours.

If I hadn’t started training for my thru hike and if I hadn’t joined the 52 Hike Challenge, I might not have been looking for new trails to hike. My experiences in hiking these new trails has taught me to not discount any trails in the area. There is always beauty on any trail you might be hiking, and more often than not, it won’t even be that hard to find.

Kinda like life, I think.

So enjoy the trail you’re on and look for the beauty. It’s there.

Training re-start

Wow, I totally fell off the blogging bandwagon. To be honest, in about May of this year (2019) I fell off the whole training wagon as well. Probably why I didn’t blog anything except for our trip on the Appalachian Trail. I have posted a few videos on my YouTube channel, and kept up pretty good with Instagram, but this blog has suffered. I’m making a commitment to change that.

Hey, look at that, not even New Year’s yet, and already making resolutions.😆

So, while training went out the window this past summer in lieu of other things in life, I did go on several fun little hikes besides the overnighter on the Appalachian Trail. (Working on getting videos made of those hikes.)

An impromptu 2 mile hike in between errands in June (video made).

A short hike (1ish mile) at the North Rim of the Grand Canyon while on family vacation in July.

Overnight hike on the Appalachian Trail in July (video made).

Had a couple hours free so me and the youngest had a nice little hike in August (video made).

Another little 2 mile hike in the hills around Lake Tahoe during a retreat weekend in October.

And then I was invited by a friend to go backpacking with her in February! There had been some talk of her asking me to go. And she finally made it official.

I’M GOING TO HAVASU FALLS IN FEBRUARY!!!

But, oy! a 30 mile hike (round trip) coming up in only a couple months and I hadn’t been training in 5 months! Time to start!

Even when it’s freakin’ cold outside (19°F!)

And especially when it’s a beautiful day (57°F).

By the end of October, I was back into a good routine of daily hikes and walks mainly just in the hills behind my house.

And then I learned about the 52 Hike Challenge. You can learn all about it through their website, but basically it is a challenge to go hiking 52 times within a one year period. There are various challenge types that you can participate in. I chose to do the original Challenge, which is just 52 hikes of at least a mile each. That’s the only requirement. I signed up on November 11th, 2019. I suppose I could have waited until January 1st to “start” the challenge, but I’m not a fan of delaying once I’ve made a decision. So, my first official hike of my 52 Hike Challenge was on November 12th.

November 12, 2019 – Hike 1 – 1.2 miles – in the canyon behind my house.

November 15, 2019 – Hike 2 – 6 miles – Mt Rose Wilderness above Lake Tahoe (my first “moderate” hike and the longest one I’ve gone on since starting training earlier this year).

November 26 and December 4, 2019 – Hikes 3 & 4 – 1.5 miles each – In the hills behind my house.

December 9, 2019 – Hike 5 – 3.1 miles – Sierra Nevada foothills

December 10, 2019 – Hike 6 – 2.1 miles – Urban trail on the outskirts of town.

December 17, 2019 – Hike 7 – 3.5 miles – Urban trail on the outskirts of town.

And that brings us up to the present. Today is December 27 and with all he holiday hulibaloo, I haven’t had a chance to go hiking in the past 10 days. But, Christmas is over and we are still on break for another week (both from school and from our house construction), and I have no major plans or preparations to do for the next week. During that time, I want to make some videos out of the footage I got on several of those hikes, and I plan to blog in more detail if I find the time. And of course go on at least one or more hikes during that time as well. Hopefully I can get it all done!

I also used Christmas money and gift cards to order the last of the equipment I’ll need for the trip to Havasu Falls. So when that comes in I’m going to do a couple videos and blog posts about my equipment. That trip will be a pretty good shakedown run for my Tahoe Rim Trail thru-hike coming up in just 7 months.

SEVEN months!?!?

Oh. My. Goodness!

Gah! I’ve still got a lot of training to do! Time to get to it!

First 3 miler

I finally found the time and effort to go for a 3 mile hike in the hills behind our house!

Started the hike in no snow…

It’s been almost two months since I started training and here we are, my first time going 3 miles in one hike. It seems like a pitiful amount. I used to be able to hike 5 miles no problem. And when thinking of walking 8-12 miles nearly every day for three weeks on the Tahoe Rim Trail, I know that I am far from my goal.

However, I am happy with the hike in that I was hiking through snow (again), I gained quite a bit of elevation, I didn’t feel too bad on the hike, and I didn’t feel too horrible the next day.

Ended up having to just roll my pants up to my knees because they were getting wet in the snow. Good thing it was a fairly warm day!

I said in my post about my training goals that I want to get to where I am hiking 3 miles in one hour while carrying a pack just about every day.

Well, I am proud that in two months I have graduated from only going 1 mile each day to 2 miles fairly consistently, and now bumping it up to 3 miles here and there.

“Turnaround Gap” – this is the gap in the trees in other pics I’ve posted. Often this is my goal, the point where I turn around. But not today!

Lots of elevation gain!

I know I’d be even further along if I hadn’t broken a rib and been laid up for several weeks. Hmmm, sounds like how I feel about our house construction. And speaking of building our house, I’d have waaaay more time to hike if I didn’t have a house to build. But, if I keep this training pace up, I know that in just a few more months I’ll be at my daily hike goals. And if I can hike 3 miles in one hour, gaining 500+ feet in elevation in 1½ miles, while carrying a pack and do that on a consistent basis, then I’m pretty sure I’ll have no problem hiking longer distances when I have all day to do it.

So, my first 3-mile hike was a success. Soon I need to try carrying my daypack again. I haven’t carried it since I broke the rib. But I think I’m healed enough to start carrying it again. Not that I need to carry a lot when I’m only going a mile or two from home. But if you want to be able to carry a heavy pack, you’ve gotta train by carrying a pack.

Oh, and as a side note, snow isn’t all that bad to hike in. Not only does it help the training (by making things harder), but it can be fun as well.

As you can see from my footprints, I had a bit of fun “skiing” on my way back down.

Happy Trails

-MammaBear

No pain, no gain??

So, as you all know, I’m training to thru-hike the Tahoe Rim Trail in 2020. I’ve started out this year (2019) with the commitment to hike/walk nearly every day. (You can read my training goals here.)

It’s been about 6 weeks and, as I thought might be the case, I am finding it hard to find the time to do anything more than go for a simple, fairly short walk/hike each day. My walks range from 1 to 2 miles, though I usually do hike up the canyon behind our house, so at least I am getting the elevation workout. But I just can’t find more than about an hour to go for a walk every day, what with all the other things I have to do.

So what do you do when you just can’t seem to find the time to make your workouts longer?

Well, you ramp up the intensity.

Only have time to go one mile today? Walk faster than you usually would.

Your 2 mile route no longer making you out of breath? Start carrying a heavy pack.

Go faster if you can’t go further. Carry weight of you can’t do either of those.

Push yourself.

And that’s where I got into a bit of trouble.

I was staying at my mom’s house in town for a few days, so I took my daily walks in her neighborhood. I was on sidewalks on level ground.

Walking on payment

I thought to myself, “Self, here’s your chance to really ramp things up!” No hills to contend with. No snow to slosh through. I was gonna kill it! I chose a 1.5 mile route, and walked it.

Fast!

And the next day, I could barely walk at all!

My shins were killing me, and my knee decided to flare up worse than it’s done in months.

The combination of much-faster-than-normal walking plus being on hard concrete/asphalt injured me. I actually pushed myself too hard.

Now, if it was just the sore shin muscles, I’d laugh it off and work though it. But the flared up knee is more serious. When my arthritis gets aggravated like that, it sometimes takes weeks to calm back down.

I shoulda known better. I shoulda slowed down and been gentler on the knees. But I didn’t and I’m paying the price for it still a week later.

But there’s that old saying, No pain, no gain.” Right?

Right. I do actually agree with it. In order to get stronger, you have to push yourself out of your comfort zone, and often that involves some pain.

But you a gotta know your limits.

Work up to your goals.

Push yourself, but be wise about it.

So the next day, not wanting to miss out on a day of training, I pushed myself to get out and walk anyway. Even though I was in quite a lot of muscle pain and my knee was swollen. And the weather was crappy.

I went much slower, sometimes even literally just limping along. And I chose as many dirt surfaces as the neighborhood allowed.

I was amazed at the difference in how my legs felt when I stepped off the asphalt path onto the dirt. It was immediate relief!

Walking on dirt = so much less pain

A dirt road chosen over the asphalt walking path just on the other side of the drainage

And guess what. I walked 2.3 miles. And didn’t feel any worse the next day.

So get out there and push your limits. Challenge yourself to go further or faster. Ignore the pain sometimes. But also realize where the threshold is of a healthy hurt vs injury, and stay on the good side of it.

Happy Hiking (and safe training!)

-MammaBear

Gear failure

When training for a big upcoming backpacking trip, it’s a good idea to test out your gear ahead of time.

That way when things go afowl, you’re not in a pickle out on the trail.

Now, my gear failure does not pertain to backpacking per se, but I am glad I found out that my snowboots are utterly not waterproof before I tried to use them in a situation where wet feet would be a serious problem.

On my daily walk, I wanted to wear my hiking boots, which are supposedly waterproof, along with my gaiters for the deep snow.

However, I hadn’t gotten more than a few dozen yards from my house when I realized the rain had turned the snow to slush.

It was like walking through a slurpee.

So I went and changed into my snow boots.

And I took off.

The gap in the trees on the horizon behind me is my destination.

The final push.

By the time I had made it to my turn-around point, my feet were pretty darn wet.

Wet, wet, wet footprints in the snow

I saw a cool snow formation on the way back down. A snowball had formed and rolled down the hill. But it had rolled into a doughnut shape.

Doughnut shaped snowball

Slushy, slushy, slushy

By the time I got home, there were literally puddles inside my boots. But don’t take my word for it, look at the stream of water I am wringing out of just one of my socks after I got home!

My boots were so heavy by the time I got home.

Wet: 5lbs 6oz

Dry: 4lbs 1oz That means that there was 1lb 5oz of water!

It took 4 full days for the liners to dry out!

Boot liners hanging above our propane heater in our trailer.

So what’s the take away from this experience?

Check your gear! Test it. Put it through it’s paces. Before you take it out in the back country.

Especially if it’s been a while since you’ve used it.

Did I mention that these boots are at least 15 years old? Yeah, they obviously need some work.

As the boots were drying, I decided to see if I could diagnose the problem. Sure enough, it became obvious when I looked inside without the liners.

See those white “scrapes” near the bottom? That is where the water was getting through.The waterproofing layer was being worn off.

You can see where the waterproofing layer is delaminating from the uppers.

Now that I know what the issue is, I’m hoping a layer of waterproofing and some seam seal will do the trick. We’ll see I guess.

I am not upset that the waterproofing on uppers is failing. As I said, these boots are at least 15 years old. I thinks it’s to be expected, and it is repairable, so no worries.

When I inspected the rubber bottom part of the boots, I was truly impressed. They are in perfect condition. Unlike my Bogs boots. (See below.)

NOT my Sorrel snowboots. These Bogs boots are only 3 years old and already cracking!

In the mean time, I have no waterproof shoes to hike in, so I’ll have to wait till all the slush freezes, or it snows an appreciable amount (new fluffy snow is fine for these boots), or things dry out some before I can get back up into the canyon. So today, I took my daily walk in my parents’ neighborhood since we’re housesitting for them. At least it’s exercise.