Hiking Dude Blog
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I've been seeing this fellow every morning this week on my walks and runs. Finally decided to share him with you.
The wildlife are really out in abundance as summer begins to wane, stocking up for the long winter ahead. I've given up trying to count the squirrels scurrying everywhere, burying nuts in all the yards. The Canada geese are noisily honking overhead as they figure out which way to migrate, or just stay for a few more weeks. Fuzzy black and brown caterpillars trudge across the trail, dodging bicycle wheels obliviously whizzing along.
I'm impatiently waiting for the trees to change. Over the next month, there will be a dramatic parade of colors followed by stark, bare trunks and limbs opening up the views through the woods. I hope you get out to enjoy some of it.
Yesterday, I hiked around Lake Rebecca on my first hike from the "60 Hikes Within 60 Miles" book for Minneapolis and St. Paul. Since I don't get to do a long hike this year, I'll be walking these local spots as Fall approaches and the trees change colors. I don't plan to do all 60 hikes, but I'll share what I find on those I complete.
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(click the pics below to see a larger version)
My wife joined me on this beautiful early Fall walk on a 6.5 mile paved multi-use trail. It is a well-maintained area with trails for walking, biking, and horses. We saw a couple riding horse, quite a few bikers, and a half dozen roller-bladers on this sunny, bright blue afternoon. I still can't figure out why so many people don't wear helmets when biking and blading - oh well.
The trail passed through open meadows, thick maple, basswood, oak forest, and near swampy areas at it made its way around Lake Rebecca. We enjoyed the variety of terrain during the two hours we hiked this loop trail.
We are past the time for picking wild berries, but we did try some wild plums growing along the trail. They were very sweet, but past ripe for the most part. There were also many acorns dropping from the trees when the wind blew just right.
There is a wonderful playground, beach, and picnic area at the trailhead. A lookout tower was almost too tempting for me to stay away, but my wife still has her commanding 'stern look' from raising two boys and it works well. :-)
This is a very easy trail, being paved the entire loop, and offers a nice afternoon stroll away from most traffic, but still close to the cities. In a few weeks, it will be even more beautiful with the wide variety of trees changing colors. This map shows the current colors across the state - don't miss them!
I've been out walking 4 to 8 miles on the local trail this past week to keep my knee moving. It's feeling much better and I will be spending days over the next month taking in some local hikes around the Twin Cities. I have a book titled '60 Hikes Within 60 Miles' for Minneapolis and I'll check out a few of those.
I think a good question to ask yourself when you are participating in a recreational activity, such as a long hike, is: 'Is the effort I'm expending worth the enjoyment I'm receiving?'
Most outdoor activities include some strenuous effort that result in rewards. For example, hiking to a mountain top, or paddling across a lake, or climbing up a cliff. Parts of the activity are grueling work, but the rewards of beautiful views, exciting rapids, or new terrain are worth the expected work.
When the answer to the question is 'No, the effort is more than the rewards,' then it's no longer recreational. And, I feel, it's time to stop. That happened to me earlier this week, for the first time on my long hikes.
My left knee became painful the second evening of my hike, most likely because I was pushing too hard on very rough, very steep, downhill portions of the trail. The next day, the discomfort grew until it hurt on every step - up, down, or level. For 3 more days, I continued on with the hope it would eventually work itself out but it maintained a fairly consistent irritation.
So, when I arrived in Duncannon, PA on Sunday night, I had a plan to visit a doctor in the morning and then make a decision. If the knee should feel better in 2 days or less, I would continue. If it would take longer than that, I could not afford to sit in a town for 3 days or more because I would miss my already small window of completing the trail before winter weather.
Monday morning, the doctor checked me out and said it looked solid with no major tearing and I could continue to walk on it - but recommended slower pace and even terrain. She said continuing my hike on the trail would most likely not make it worse, but it would not get a chance to heal and the pain could take a long time to abate.
This is when the question came up. A 2 hour debate with myself and I concluded: 'No, I'm not enjoying this.' The ongoing discomfort from the past 4 days would continue for the near future and I would not have fun.
I arranged a 20-mile shuttle to Hamburg, PA where I caught a 1,106-mile greyhound bus ride home. Late Tuesday night, after 24+ hours touring the country, I was home. I took yesterday to rest and come to grips in my head with my first long distance hiking failure.
Failure is the description that I keep coming back to for this hike. I had a goal to walk a certain distance in a certain time and reach the trail end. I failed to do that, actually didn't even come close. So, my trail record is now 3 wins and 1 lose. I completed the AZT, SHT, and IAT. I didn't complete my first effort with the AT.
It's pretty easy to start coming up with better ways to look at failed goals to make them not seem so bad. I hiked 123 miles in 5 days. I walked in 3 states - WV, MD, and PA. I learned a lot for future hikes. I met some interesting people. But, for now, I'm just sticking with 3-1 and admitting to myself that, however I look at it, I didn't reach my goal.
I'll share tomorrow some of the things I learned on this short trek and my plans for some shorter hikes the rest of this year.
PS: This picture is the last one I took on my hike. I am resting on a mountain before the final 600-foot steep, rocky, drop into Duncannon.
I walked 63558 steps on the trail today.
I traveled about 29.5 miles today.
This view from the north across the Cumberland Valley shows the mountains where I started hiking this morning. From this nice view, I still had 12 miles of mountain trail to reach Duncannon, PA which I did a little after 7pm. Dead tired and out of water, I stumbled into town to find a bit more walking required due to a construction detour. Finally reaching the Doyle hotel here just before John locked the door made my extra efforts on the trail pay off. I'm checking in with a doctor tomorrow for my knee to see what can be done about it. As you can see from the miles of today, I can still hike but it's miserable and it would be dumb to force more injury. I met few people today, just a couple SoBos and some day hikers. The rain probably kept folks off the trail.
The 'scattered thunerstorms' have changed to a downpour the past hour. Fortunately, I got to Boiling Springs and hve waited out much of it at a gas station. It's letting up, so I'm back on the trail. A local guy here chatting with his buds gave me a cantalope from his garden - mmmmmm! Hoping for Duncannon and a bed tonight, but we'll see.
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