January 20, 2009

2009 - An

a Challenge

We're well into this new year and although I'm not much for making resolutions, I have decided to do something this year that will certainly be an adventure, and it will certainly challenge me.
I'm going to hike the 281 miles of the Maine section of the Appalachian Trail, a trek that will include the Hundred Mile Wilderness, seven peaks over 4,000' (as well as thirteen others over 3,000') and will end at Mt. Katahdin. Am I totally nuts?

I've always been a walker and loved the outdoors but have never done much real hiking. Then this fall my daughter Heather loaned me a book she'd been given, It's Always Up - Memories of the Appalachian Trail by the Mountain Marching Mamas. The MMM are a group of older women who have long gotten together to hike for a week or two every year. In bits and pieces they ended up hiking the entire AT.

As dumb as it sounds, it had never occurred to me that I could hike the Trail a little at a time and not necessarily in sequence. WOW!

Years ago my daughter Hannah had given me a a guide to the Maine section of the AT complete with seven detailed topographic and profile maps and every other bit of helpful information I'd need to start this adventure. This all seems... fated.

Ahhh, but the challenge... I'm in my mid 60's, somewhat overweight, and somewhat limited in endurance. Time to start training! A minimum of 30 minutes a day on the treadmill with increasing incline, hand-weight work three days a week and yoga two days a week. Then more snowshoeing, XC skiing and just plain winter hiking. I think I can, I think I can.

I'm seven weeks into this program and feel good about the progress. Using the treadmill's not a big deal, and I'm up to using a set of 6, 7, and 8 pound weights for that work. I'm planning to get up to using 8, 10, and 12 pounders and then increasing the repetitions more. Yesterday Bert and I snowshoed for a little over an hour and a half. PHEW!

And so, in the spring I'll start with more serious day hikes, then overnights before I start on the AT itself. I've got to get used to carrying a fairly weighty backpack something I've never done before.

The last piece of this whole undertaking is by far the most important part. Because I don't plan to hike alone, family and friends will join me for various pieces of this "walk in the woods." Bert will be my most constant trail companion of course, but I'm way wicked excited to share this adventure and challenge with so many other favorite folks.

And so, no New Year's resolutions, but maybe just maybe, I'll end up losing weight, getting in shape, absorbing great beauty and finding real peace anyway!