Many years ago, General Electric’s slogan was “Progress is our most important product.” That’s how we are feeling as we complete 2021 and enter 2022. We are definitely seeing progress in our fitness, endurance, strength and hiking. The power of intention = commitment+action+magic.
Progress – Hiking Non-Stop
I returned from our vacation December 7 with a sinus and ear infection and movement was limited to strength training 3x/week (Be Stronger) and brief walking. December 18, I did a 4-miler and Willis did 3 miles here on the Ranch. Finally on December 20, we got back into more of our preparation regimen for hiking Vernal and Nevada Falls in Yosemite in June 2022. We did a 6-mile hike on the Gridley Trail which is rated as hard. It took us 4 hours. Willis experienced an important breakthrough in his progress. Up until now his hiking has been stop and go. He needed to stop because he was still building endurance in strength and breathing. On Gridley, he stopped once near the beginning and from there, he hiked non-stop until we reached 3 miles and stopped to rest and have a snack. Coming back, we both made only one stop. This breakthrough was evidence for both of us that he is making progress.
Progress – Finding alternative hiking sites
It rained a lot in December for us (about 14 inches) for which we are ever so grateful. Everything is looking so green. However, the soil around us is clay and when it rains, it doesn’t just get muddy – it gets sticky and builds up and is difficult to remove from our shoes. So finding a hiking venue can be challenging. We remembered at the top of our road, which is the top of our mountain, there is an old road which is now a Recreation Trail and great for relatively flat hiking. The views are spectacular down to the canyons and all the way to the ocean and islands. January 4, 2022, we headed up the couple miles to the trailhead. I did a 6 miler and Willis did 5.3 miles in 4 hours. Again, he was able to hike without stopping except at the turn around point for a rest and snack.
Progress – Picking up the pace
On January 10, 2022, we went back up to the top of our mountain to the Recreation Trail. I did 6.6 miles and Willis did 6 miles. Here’s the notable thing. The prior week it took us 4 hours. Less than a week later over the same trail it took us 2 hours and 48 minutes! Go figure?!? It feels like we are starting to get back our endurance and strength.
Progress – How’s my body doing?
I saw a podiatrist and was diagnosed with metatarsalgia. He wanted me to start hiking in a stiff shoe or boot with a heel. Katy Bowman advocates a zero drop and barefoot shoes if tolerable. She recommends a shoe as flexible as possible to keep all the muscles in the feet active. I have loved using my Vibram 5-finger shoes on our dirt trails on the Ranch. Being able to feel the surface beneath my feet has been great for working my balance including walking on fallen logs as balance beams. And I have been using Altra Superiors and Lone Peaks as flexible walking/hiking shoes. The podiatrist said the very action of flexing my feet is aggravating the metatarsalgia and that if I would go to a stiffer shoe, I may be able to actually heal them. So I went to Altra Olympus that are still zero drop but much stiffer. That seems to be helping.
Progress – Finding a backpack that works
The other challenge has been my neck. I have vertebra in my neck that over the years have fused together restricting the range of motion. My backpack is a simple one without any frame or support. On my last 6-mile hike, I ended up with a knot in the right side of my neck and significant pain. I believe it is because the old pack I am using just hangs and all the weight in the pack is being held up by my shoulders which puts a significant strain on my neck. Willis has a great lightweight pack with a nice lightweight frame and he has no problem carrying it. I went to REI and got fitted for a lightweight pack that will distribute more/most of the weight on my hips. It is a Gregory Jade 28 small/medium. I am liking it a lot and so far no neck problems.
Progress – On a “real” trail again
On January 10 we headed out on another “real” trail – not an old road and not relatively flat. We hiked over 6.5 miles with elevation gain of 1,574 feet. It took us 4 hours and 21 minutes. It was challenging – particularly the first 1.25 miles which is rocky and nothing but up. After that it was a lot of up and down through some mighty beautiful country. There were some amazingly green, spring-like meadows we had never seen before. We are using All Trails to help us navigate and track what we are doing. Also, we both now have Apple watches which are great for tracking mileage, elevation, and heart rate. We are loving getting back into condition and ready for Vernal and Nevada Falls in Yosemite in June. Here’s how I know Willis is getting more excited about this adventure. For the first time ever he asked after the hike, “Are you going to post about this hike? It was hard and we did it!”