Sunday, July 16, 2006

Hike: Tahoe Rim Trail North from Spooner Summit

OK, so my plan was to hike Saturday so that I could still bike with the local bike club Sunday morning. But, of COURSE I'd want to challenge myself. So... I challenged myself enough that I killed my legs and realized that I couldn't stand to embarass myself by trying to cycle with them Sunday morning. Ah well, live and learn.

But, I have to say, this is my greatest hiking accomplishment thus far: 6.68 miles round trip, with about 1100 feet in elevation gain. That makes it a strenuous/difficult hike (8.9 on a scale of 0-10+) according to this cool calculator from that I found on Yay! That's the greatest distance AND the greatest elevation gain in my adult life. Woohoo!

I ate a good macro-nutrient-balanced breakfast (but only 315 cal), then had 1/2 Clif bar before the hike, had the other half about a third of the way through, and then had a PB & J sandwich before the last leg of the descent. I think I found a good balance of food to maintain energy.

One new thing on this hike, however: for the first time I can remember, my legs began to feel worn out before my lungs. This might be good. Of course, this might be due more to the yoga I did Friday night than to improved cardiovascular ability.

My primary goal for the hike was the first summit - about two miles in. But I felt so good after my rest there, and became so blindly optimistic that I had overcome most of the elevation gain, that I went ahead and gave Snow Valley Peak a shot. Um, yeah.

When I quickly came across a beautiful mini-meadow with lovely yellow flowers, I took it as a sign that I did the right thing. I was supposed to go on. Nevermind what Alan (a wonderful older long-time hiker I ran into on the trail) said: that I should hike at a comfortable pace and basically respect my limits. If he could go on, well then so could I, and I was going to make it 3.5 more miles to Snow Valley Peak. Nevermind that the first 2 miles were pretty hard for me. I could do it.

This resolve quickly gave way to, "I can go halfway to Snow Valley Peak - that will be at the original 2 miles plus 1.75 -> 3.75 miles. I'll turn around then... if I still want to."

3.34 miles in, it became, "I can turn around now."

No harm, no foul. Truth is, Alan is pretty wise. The final mile was pretty miserable for me, even though I was going downhill. Alan's words will stick with me - respect my limits.

Still, I have higher limits now! 6.68 miles at 1100 feet elevation gain.

Finally, I just have to tell you that while I was on the trail, I saw crazy people! No, I wasn't becoming delusional in my enjoyable hike-induced hiking. I had the good fortune of hiking while Ultra-Trail Runners were having an event. Get this: 50k, 50 miles, 100k, and 100 miles. You've got to be kidding! It will be a proud day, indeed, when I run 5k. Maybe one day I'll shoot for 10k. That's enough. No need for an extra power of ten, and no need to move away from metric in running. 100 miles. One. Hundred. Miles. I'll tell you what, they have my respect.

I respect institutionalized crazy people, too.

Oh, and I hereby thank the runners that thanked me when I stepped off the trail to yield to them. I know it's common courtesy, but it's nice to be appreciated and be acknowledged. Courtesy works both ways, and it certainly works well when sharing a narrow trail.

Footnote: that calculator I linked to considers my hike to be strenuous only for novices. For experts, it's easy (a mere 3.9). OK, so when does one switch from novice to expert? Who knows. I suppose that there should be some middle ability level, but it's always easier to criticize than to do better. So, for now, I'm sticking with novice, making it a strenuous hike. I feel better about that.

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