Friday, January 24, 2014
Training for a Grand Hike
South Kaibab Trail, Grand Canyon National Park
Let me start this post with one of my favorite quotes,
" Everyone needs beauty as well as bread, places to play in and pray in, where Nature may heal and cheer and give strength to body and soul alike." - John Muir (1838-1914)
This quote strikes me so much because it sums up why I love to be with nature. My desire to see the deeper beauty of nature keeps me moving and kicking my feet, bringing me priceless joys and inner peace that strengthens body, mind and soul. I have several hikes in my bucket list, two of them are in Grand Canyon National Park. Though we have hiked several trails of Grand Canyon, but we never really had completed a rim to rim hike. It is strenuous, about 20 miles round trip and 6000- 7000 ft descent/ascent. Add to this is another hike which is also in Grand Canyon, the Havasupai Falls hike. It is again about 22 miles round trip and 7000 ft descent/ascent. These days, I am both physically and mentally preparing myself for these hikes.
One of the biggest challenges in Grand Canyon hike is that it is a reverse hike. At the top, it is cooler, yet as you go down, it becomes warmer. You start early of the day when it is cooler, but on your return, you are facing the giant climb at higher temperatures and your feet may already be tired. My biggest weakness in hiking is facing high temperatures. Somehow, I get sudden headache when temperatures would soar past 70's! I know, 70F (21C) is very comfortable for some, but somehow, when I am hiking, I could not handle this kind of heat. It is for that reason that most of our summer hiking trips always mean hiking in cooler places.
summer hiking at Lassen Volcanic National Park, California
( this may look cold, but it wasn't, up in California mountains, so much snow accumulation that last til summer, yet we were hiking in the 60s! 50s to 60s F or 10 to 20 C is my ideal hiking temperature. )
Slowly, I am presently building on my resistance against heat. Two weekends ago, despite the temperature was in high 70s, I forced myself to finish the hike from Lake Poway to the summit of Mt Woodson.
Potato Chip Rock @ Mt. Woodson, San Diego County
Now, we could do this hike easily if it is cooler, say in the 60s or 50s, but when it is in the 70s, I feel like I am working hard three times as much :( I felt middle of the hike to give up, when slowly, I could start feeling my head throbbing from pain. Physically, I can finish the hike having done it several times, but mentally, I was giving up because of heat. However, I told myself, "Betchai, if you could not finish this simple 8 mile round trip hike, 2400 ft ascent to Mt Woodson in 70s heat, then, you might as well give up Grand Canyon and Havasupai Falls!" Just telling myself of giving up Grand Canyon motivated me to finish and conquer the 70s heat! What a joy it was when I finished the hike!
In order to prepare for these two hikes, we use San Diego's mountainous backyard as our gym and training ground. Though our highest mountain in San Diego is 6000 ft, but the climb would only be 3600 ft since it already starts at higher elevation. We are planning to scale up Palomar Mountain,
Palomar Mountain, San Diego County
or do a double peak hike of Mount Woodson, for our Extreme Body Workout in preparation for Grand Canyon and Havasupai Falls hike. They may not sound as extreme as doing both Rim to Rim and Havasupai in one trip, but I know my greatest challenge is the heat, and that is what I will slowly work on, hike in heat! Though we plan to hike on cooler months, but the bottom of the canyon and the canyon itself can be very treacherous. Thankfully, we have about 90 Day Review to assess my over-all health readiness for these two grand hikes.
Hike to Harding Icefield Trail, Kenai Fjords National Park, Alaska
We all have our motivation to stay physically fit, some work hard to have a Beach Body, mine is simply to enjoy the pure joy of experiencing our beautiful natural world.
Jump for Joy @ Harding Icefield Trail, Kenai Fjords National Park, Alaska
Experiencing nature up close, is very spiritually inspiring and healing for me. It is for that reason, that I continually exercise and work on my physical fitness and health each day, so that I can keep on going up the trails for many more years.
This post is provided by Fitness Alliance, October 22, 2011.
Post update ( spring 2012): Have finally hiked the Grand Canyon rim-rim! You can find the links to the hike here and here.