Monthly Archives: February 2017

Hiking Hat Trick.

As planned and promised, I hiked the 3rd section of the Cumberland Trail system through the Prentice Cooper State Forest. You’ll recall that last week’s 11.5 mile trek ranked as one of the hardest ever – well, no more. This trek – all 9 hours and 16.2 miles of it – far surpassed last week’s, or anything else I’ve done, for that matter. It was longer and far more grueling than anticipated – the trails themselves were not bad at all, and I never wandered off-trail last like week. It was just loooong. Plus about 400 feet in elevation shifts, up and down the mountain. Still, it was awesome. The weather was perfect, and the views were amazing. Worth every step. And with that, I’ve done almost 60 miles on the trails in the past month – I’m not sure what I’m gearing up for, but I’m gearing up for…something. I’m not really surprised that I’ve been able to tackle such aggressive trekking, but it is gratifying – all that gym time is obviously paying off. Next weekend, I’m hoping to do Middle Creek, which runs right up the gorge between Signal Point and Edwards Point. Not a long hike, but I hear it’s a tough one. Finger crossed! After that, who knows where my feet will take me, and then hiking season will give way to cycling and kayaking season. Never a dull moment with me, that’s for true.

So, the map. A pretty straight-forward loop, plus a side trip to Davis Pond (on the left); I used to camp here as a kid. I may never do this again, but I’m glad I did it at least once.

click for larger, or Movescount data or Endomondo data

click for larger, or Movescount data or Endomondo data

I learned a couple of things on this trek, as well. I need to carry rope of some sort. Something light and strong, so I’m thinking of nylon webbing, like what the pups’ leashes are made from. Nothing I’d want to seriously climb with, but for emergencies – like the one I had. Nothing too bad, but when standing on one of the bluffs, I dropped my water bottle over the side. D’oh! It was lodged about 8 feet down the bluff, and I think I could have climbed down there to get it, but I wasn’t sure I could get back up – if I had a rope, I’m pretty sure I could have. Luckily, I had one bottle left (I carry 3), so I just had to ration a bit for the last 6 miles or so. And to that end, I need to carry a cooler that I can leave in the car with more water, and I need to figure out a way to keep the bottles from falling out of the bottle pockets on my pack (which is how I lost this one).

With the hat trick complete, I’ve composited all the hikes (and a paddle) in the immediate area onto one map, including last summer’s T-Wall hike and Williams Island hike/paddle. This doesn’t including anything downtown/North Shore, bicycling, or paddles in other parts of the area – still, you can see I’ve covered a lot of ground. And the Signal Point/Edwards Point hikes I’ve done on numerous occasions, but the 17.5 mile trek shown here was by far the longest.

click for much larger

click for much larger

So, in reverse order, this:

Pot Point Loop – 16.2 miles
Snooper’s Rock – 11.5 miles
Signal Point/Edwards Point/Mushroom Rock – 17.5 miles
Lusk Point – 12.5 miles
Williams Island – 12.7 miles
T-Wall – 5.4 miles
Addendum Added Middle Creek Gorge – 6.0 miles

On top of these adventures, I’ve had bike rides of 100 miles, 80 miles, 65 miles and several at 50 miles and many, many shorter ones; more paddling expeditions than I can count; other hikes, including Laurel Snow, Chickamauga Battlefield, Stringer’s Ridge and others; and lots of urban treks with the pups. No wonder I’m over 23000 miles on the FitBit.

Now, today…relaxing. I think I’ve done enough for one weekend.

Non-Scale Victories

In the weight loss/fitness world, you’ll hear people referring to the “NSV”. This is a Non-Scale Victory, meaning something good happened that had nothing to do with the number on the scale. You resisted plowing through a whole box of Boo Berry, your old jeans now fit, whatever. I get these all the time – as I mentioned previously, you take your victories where you can find them. But yesterday, I got two totally unexpected ones:

awards

Those are Apple Watch badges – one of which, obviously, is from last year. I knew I got the 5K Turkey Trot award, because it showed up on my watch on Thanksgiving Day; similarly, I saw the Ring in the New Year badge on my watch back in January. But neither showed up in my list of badges in the Activity app on my iPhone. A little research, and I found many – but not all – people had the same issue. Because ultimately, it doesn’t really matter, and no one would see it but me, I kinda forgot about it. Then lo and behold, after doing the latest iPhone update, they appeared. Still doesn’t really matter, but I earned them, so it’s nice to have them with the other badges. Take your victories where you can find them.

And speaking of Apple badges, this morning I had my personal best calorie burn at the gym – 1501 calories in a super-intense workout. That’s two days in a row I’ve really, really hit it hard, and it feels great to push myself. I’m doing some new machines, running more, and spending more time at the gym in the morning. I haven’t really been slacking – regular readers will know that I’ve hiked over 50 miles in the past month alone – but I just wasn’t pushing like I should be, especially with the weights. Hopefully, I’m on a good tack now – Speedo season is right around the corner, and I’ve got my eyes on those new Peeps Oreos. Yeah, they sound gross, and I hope they are – but I just have to try them. I’ll probably buy a package, take a couple out, and give the rest to the guy at the Quik-e-Mart where I get my coffee. Otherwise – even if they are gross – there’s a very real chance I’ll play Hungry, Hungry Hippos with them, and that would pretty much negate my recent NSVs.

Tomorrow – or Friday; sometime – I have to go pick up my new spectacles. You’ll recall I bought new ones last summer (after, of course, breaking my old ones in one of my many mishaps). I never really liked the ones I bought; it was all the optometrist had. So, I’d been toying with getting ones I liked better, and found an awesome pair of Ray-Bans – yeah, pricey, but I dig ’em, and I think I just look better with round ones, and I need all the help I can get.

raybans

Lastly, you know what I hate? Well, I hate lots of things – but what I’m referring to now is being right. I hate being right. But I usually am.

Come for the Trails, Stay for the Scenery II.

Another weekend, another adventure in the woods. I had originally planned on cycling or paddling, but it was a little rainy Sunday, so hiking seemed like a better alternative. This time, it was the second part of the Cumberland Trail trek than I began back in January. So, same starting place at the Cumberland Trail trailhead, but in the opposite direction. And what a hike it was – what I expected to be a 10-mile, 4-5 hour hike ended up being 11.5 miles, and took over 8 hours. Yeah, I kinda underestimated just how rugged parts of the trail would be, with several boulder fields, really steep ascents and descents, and numerous creeks and streams to cross. Despite my calves and quads screaming, it was worth it. Luckily, the rain cleared before heading into the woods, but it was pretty wet and slippery until the sun came out. And despite my better-than-average orienteering skills, I wandered off the trail in a couple of places. The lesson here is not to panic, and use whatever tools you have at your disposal. I really don’t like to rely on the tech, but in this case, the GPS helped dramatically, because there were several sections of the trail that felt “wrong” – that is, it seemed like the trail was going away from the final destination. This is how people get lost – backtracking and going in circles which ultimately makes things worse. Noting the position of the sun, and trusting your instincts will usually get you out of trouble, but when worse comes to worse, the tech will keep you safe. Lesson learned: when you have a signal, use Google maps to cache the content of the surrounding area, so that when you lose your signal (which happened to me numerous times – Endomondo lost about a mile of the hike; but the Suunto did it’s thing well), you still have a map to follow. And preparation – I had a so-so map of the area, plus plenty of water, protein bars, my trusty and came-in-handy machete (and she needs a name – suggestions?) and other assorted items. I saw quite a few people on the trail that had practically nothing in the way of supplies – you must plan for the worst, just in case. Sure, lugging a 30 pound pack is a chore, but the upside is you have a great calorie burn. In fact, Endomondo reported a 4600 calorie burn for the trek, but that’s not taking into the account the terrain or the pack, so my actual burn was probably closer to 6000. Not bad.

The view from Snooper's Rock - click for much, much larger

The view from Snooper’s Rock – click for much, much larger

And the scenery made it totally worth is. Spectacular views from the bluffs into the canyons below, the aforementioned boulder fields, massive rock formations, beautiful water features and Mother Nature at her finest. This was probably the toughest hike I’ve ever taken – even surpassing the 17.5 mile adventure from a couple weeks ago. I’m completely shredded, and I ache all over, but I’d do it again in a heartbeat. In fact, I intend to – hopefully this weekend, I’ll complete the triumvirate, and do the 3rd and final section of the loop, which is about another 10 miles, pretty much all on the bluffs. Stay tuned.

Below is the map – you can see in the 9 o’clock and 11 o’clock positions where I got off-trail (the white dashed lines). I’ve already started compositing all these trails I’ve explored on a single map; keep your eyes open for that soon.

Click for larger, or Endomondo data, or Movescount data

Click for larger, or Endomondo data, or Movescount data

Flex Friday.

So, I haven’t exactly gotten off track – in fact, I’m working extremely hard at the gym (and the home gym) lately. Doing pretty good diet-wise, as well. Making all sorts of tasty Ideal Shakes; here’s my newest concoction:

mio 1 scoop vanilla Ideal Shake
1 scoop Dymatize ISO-100 vanilla protein powder
1/2 scoop Barn Dad Fiber mix (unflavored)
2 spoonfuls Greek yogurt (the full-fat kind)
2 c. unsweetened almond milk
1/3 c. heavy cream (full fat, as well)
1 raw egg
chia seeds (just dump them in – maybe 1/8 c.)
Mio Iced Vanilla Java mix (big squirt)
ice cubes

Blend it up in the Nutri-Bullet, and enjoy: coffee shake! My wild assortment of shakes definitely help make dieting easier – basically, I skip at least one meal a day in favor of a shake. Very satisfying.

However, that b*tch Aria hasn’t been kind, and this is where it gets tricky. I’m up quite a few pounds – more than I’m willing to admit. Now, this is the tricky part: even though I’m up what I think is an unacceptable amount of weight, my clothes fit the same. Where I would notice it most – the waist – is the same; in fact, I think it’s a bit better. This is where the lesson is – because I’m doing a lot of weight-lifting (which is why I’m acknowledging #FlexFriday), I’m adding muscle far faster than I’m losing what little bit of fat I have left to lose. So, I have to learn not to worry about that number on the scale any longer – overall fitness and fat loss was my initial goal; now it’s bulking up, and getting the body fat as low as possible. There’s no way I can maintain 170 pounds and cultivate mass (heh, Mac). That’s the lesson all of you need to take – the number on the scale is just that; a number. It’s only one metric. How you feel, how your clothes fit, and how people react that you haven’t seen in a long time are other pieces of the puzzle. Eat right, exercise, and take your victories where you can find them.

Mac Day

Mac Day

As for me, I think it’s time for a new adventure or two. So, this weekend, the plan is to get on the bike, get in the boat. And shopping, natch. Rock/Creek is having their annual warehouse sale, so I think I’ll ride my bike over there tomorrow and see what’s what, because I need more stuff to put in the barn like I need a hole in the head. I guess if you’ve got it, spend it. Or something.

Victories. Celebrate them.

Birthday Boy (Pup, That Is).

click for larger

click for larger

My sweet Blackjack is 5 years old today. That also means it’s been 5 years since The Great Unpleasantness (well, practically), and y’know what? Worth. It. I wouldn’t have imagined that a dog would so significantly improve my life, but here we are. Probably the most notable thing – apart from non-judgmental companionship, affection and lots of wags – is that he motivated me to get off My Huge Fat Ass™. A big, active dog needs big, active activities. It started with us walking, then hiking, then realizing I was going to have to get cracking if I was going to keep up. And cracking I did get.

His birthday hasn’t been all good, though. He’s been dealing with a bit of a shoulder injury for a couple of weeks; didn’t seem to be too major, no obvious pain or anything, just a little limping. So, I took him to see Doctor Pretty Vet on Thursday – luckily, no bad news, just some anti-inflammatory meds and a little rest. Most likely, a pulled muscle in his shoulder. He’s responding well; so well, in fact, we went for our traditional birthday walk on Saturday (with Mr. Tonka, natch). Not a long walk; didn’t want him to overdo it, but since I had to go out anyway to get his cake (yeah, he had a cake), I brought the boys along.

The cake was awesome, and the boys have been enjoying it – they’re just getting small slices at a time; it may be too rich to have all at once. In addition, I signed up for auto-delivery of their food from Chewy.com, and that showed up Saturday morning. So much more convenient that going to the pet store, and actually slightly less expensive. When you’re talking about $60 bags of food – twice a month – cheaper is good. And free shipping, as well. The boys are worth it. Of course, there were toys, as well, and lots and lots of birthday pets.

I was just telling someone today that I am basically a “love me, love my dogs” person. I’ve met people who’ve said to me, “You have dog hair on your coat (or whatever – their hair is everywhere, all the time)” in a kinda judgmental/condescending way. See ya! Love me, love my dogs. In fact, I don’t care whether you love me or not, but loving my dogs is non-negotiable.

Happy Birthday, Blackjack. I hope we have many, many more together.

Movin’ On Up…

23000milesAnother week, more steps. I just crossed over 23000 miles on the ol’ FitBit, which is good for almost 34.5 million steps. Sheesh, that’s a lot of steps and a lot of miles. I could have walked anywhere on the planet by now (oceans notwithstanding) – I guess when I started this, I should have just made a straight line…somewhere. Could have walked to Rio and back, with side trips all over. Getting to 40 million steps by June is going to be pushing it, but it’s not impossible – just gotta work at it.

I Would Walk 500 Miles…

…ok, not 500, but I’ve put a lot of miles on my shoes since I last posted, including a 7.5 mile urban hike, and a 17.5 mile wilderness trek. More on that in a sec.

But, yeah, I had to get some work done on the Wagon Queen Family Truckster, so rather than sit there watching SportsCenter and drinking coffee, I walked. A good walk of 7.5 miles. Now, 7.5 miles isn’t very much for me, but you get your steps where you can get them, and walking from Precision Tune (awesome people) to Starbucks, to the mall (not open at that early hour, but there were old folks wandering the deserted corridors – it was like The Walking Dead, only with senior citizens instead of zombies), then back the other way to the new Wal-Mart (the excitement never ends with me), and back. Point being, if you have the choice to sit on your fat ass or get steps, take the steps. Each one counts.

click for Endomondo data

click for Endomondo data

And there’s been shopping. Lots of shopping. Online, I loaded up on Ideal Shape meal replacement shakes – Chocolate Cream Pie, Orange Cream, Salted Caramel, Vanilla, Strawberry, Cookies & Cream, Chocolate Peanut Butter, plus complimentary Dymatize ISO-100 protein powder for each (for example, I mix Orange Dreamsicle protein powder with Orange Cream Ideal Shake, or Birthday Cake protein powder with Salted Caramel Ideal Shake). These shakes are awesome – I also add in a raw egg, chia seeds, plain Greek yogurt and coconut oil, for something super-healthy. Yeah, the Ideal Shakes aren’t cheap, at $40 – $50 per canister, and similar pricing for the protein powder – but it helps.

kwAnyway, new shoes, because of course I got new shoes. Academy had an awesome pair of Brooks Cascadia trail runners for something like $90, which is a great price for Brooks. I think this brings me up to 8 pairs of them. Sheesh. And some workout clothes, of course, and socks, of course, and super-awesome yellow snakeskin spandex shorts – yes, girl shorts – that no one will ever see me in, except the pups (and even they will probably roll their eyes and think, “Um, that’s a little much.”). Good stuff. Shopping for fitness-related gear is good motivation for helping stay on track. Oh, and I finally got the replacement Kutting Weight long-sleeve sauna shirt. You’ll recall I ordered the girl’s version awhile back – well, it just didn’t fit. The arms were too small (in diameter), and it was cut in such a way that I *ahem* would have to have a huge fat ass to fill it out properly. Ladies, consider getting the men’s version – the pink wasn’t at all flattering (well, unless you’ve got a true badonkadonk, I guess).

Which brings us to yesterday’s awesome 17.5 mile adventure. The short version: Signal Point to Julia Falls to Rainbow Lake to Edwards Point to Mushroom Rock and back, via Shackleford Ridge Road, Timberlinks Drive and the Signal Mountain Snooty Golf and Country Club. And, yes, there was adventure to be had.

click for much, much larger version

click for much, much larger version

See that smoke? Yes, leave it to me – hiked right into the middle of a wildfire just below Edwards Point, and creeping up the bluffs. There was actually flames on the trail that I stomped out as best I could. Firefighters were on-scene – well, one, anyway (go, Mac!) – evidently, the rest of the fire brigade couldn’t get up there because of a bad wreck on the mountain (and friends calling/texting me, because the wreck involved a vehicle similar to mine, and my Instagramming told friends I was in the vicinity – thanks for checking on me!). When I drove home, 6 hours later, the fire was still raging, and I could see it from down below. Hopefully, the rain overnight put it out.

hard to take a good photo while driving in low light

hard to take a good photo while driving in low light

Nonetheless, made it through the flames un-singed (and we know I have an uncanny ability to set myself on fire), and I decided to push on to Mushroom Rock, rather than turn back (as was suggested by Mac). However, that meant once reaching Mushroom Rock – and 10 miles into the hike – it would be walking back to the Truckster via surface streets. This really was the only option – the Cumberland Trail from Signal Point to Mushroom Rock is very technical, and slow going, at about 1.25 MPH max, because of the terrain and elevation shift through the canyons. Even if there was no raging wildfire, just wouldn’t have made it back by dark at that pace. So, a much faster pace – about 4 MPH – through the neighborhoods and golf courses of Signal Mountain – 10 miles in, 7.5 miles back, for a personal-best wilderness trek of 17.5 miles (my previous personal best was the 12 mile excursion a couple of weeks ago, and I did a 20 mile urban hike around the North Shore & downtown several years ago, but that was with no 25-pound backpack, and the ability to stop for food, beverage and other amenities anywhere I chose; no comparison). And this trek was good for almost 6000 calories, and over 40000 steps. Awesome, but I’m shredded. I think I may have re-torn my quad – sure feels like it. I went to the gym in the Wee Small Hours (naturally) to try to work it out; we’ll see. I don’t have time for another injury right now.

So, here it is:

click for larger, or Endomondo data, or Movescount data

click for larger, or Endomondo data, or Movescount data

As usual, Endomondo dropped out several times while deep in the canyons, so it only recorded about 15.5 miles of the trek, but my trusty Suunto Ambit got ever step (and they’re on sale now; mine was quite a bit more when this model first came out – of course, they have some cool new models now; I see a Spartan Ultra Stealth Titanium in my near future). That is an awesome gadget, especially if you’re a tech geek like me. In fact, I was gadget-laden, as always – Apple Watch, FitBit, iPhone, Suunto and a portable battery recharger, which is a flippin’ lifesaver if you’re GPS’ing. Go buy one. Today.

Speaking of today, I think I’m going to go enjoy a nice coma. Ugh. Shredded.