I was a bit bummed out last weekend after having so much trouble on the 9 mile hike in downtown Richmond. Here’s a map of the trail. You can’t really see it here but it starts out at Forest Hill Park (A) and goes right (east) down the the bridge over Belle Isle and the heads west up to Maymont Park where you cross another bridge and head east again back to the park. I had problems going up the hills in the second half of the hike and was starting to wonder if I was too old to do this sort of thing.
So today I decided to do it alone and take a three liter bag of water with some electrolytes along for the ride. My pack was not as heavy and I also left the camera at home. This was a “down to business” type of thing and it was all about those hills and figuring out why I was having so much of a problem. It was embarrassing too, frankly, to be huffing and puffing in front of all those young people.
Off I went and am happy to say the entire hike was pretty much effortless. I did it in about 2.5 hours without any breathing difficulty. It’s Sunday and there were lots of friendly faces out there but they were coming in the opposite direction on bikes or running for the most part. It’s SO cool having a nature trail in the heart of the city along the fabulous James River. I’m going to make it a rule to leave the music at home home when hiking and listen to the birds sing instead!
At some point I realized during the hike that it was all about the electrolytes and the tons of sweat I’m dropping on a hot summer day. I’m learning about my body and am happy with its ability to adjust with a little help from science. Here’s something I just found called, Why Suffer?, that talks about these issues and makes a great deal of sense to me after walking this trail a couple of times.
I wear materials that are made for hiking and am pretty much soaked after awhile on the trail. This is a good thing. It keeps me cool. I’ve also found that wearing cyclist gloves is helpful as I can use them to keep the salt out of my eyes without constantly reaching for a dry cloth.
The bottom line is I enjoy walking on trails very much. We are in our natural state out there and the interactions with complete strangers are just different. When you meet someone on a trail you have something to share if for only a few seconds. When you pass them on the streets of downtown Richmond a few meters away you generally have much less to share. That’s just the way it is.
So I feel much better about hiking and hope to do an overnight hike soon on the Appalachian Trail. But first we are going to do this hike again once or twice WITH my buds from the hiking group and show them a few things.
Ah, this is going to be very satisfying.
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