This year’s hiking season didn’t go like I had planned, but then so much in life seems to be like that. What’s that old quote?
The best-laid plans of mice and men often go awry – Robert Burns
Yeah, that’s the one! Oh well, since this year’s plans got mucked up when the universe stepped in with other plans in mind, I thought it time to realign my hiking goals. One thing getting older has taught me, things don’t always go as planned and when the universe says you need to focus on your health, you listen (or you should).
While I’d love to go crazy next year with hiking, I have set my sights on just one hike; the same one I was planning for this year. My sole hiking goal for 2018 is to thru-hike the Appalachian Trail. There, I’ve put it out there. Hopefully this time things will work out now that I have addressed the health issues that stopped me from attempting it this year and have taken away many little lessons from this year’s hikes. (Now I just have to figure out the logistics of refilling my prescriptions while on the trail, but that’s a topic for another post).
While my hiking season for this year is slowly ending and with my goal of thru-hiking the AT next year, I have no plans to sit around this winter. Those who know me know I have a tough time sitting still for very long. Being home at my home base tends to drive me crazy and wanting nothing more than to get outside.
I have no plans to wait for next year’s hiking season to stay in shape for hiking. The best way to stay in shape for hiking I have found is to never stop! The best exercise for getting in shape for hiking is again hiking. With my sights set on thru-hiking the Appalachian Trail (AT) in 2018, I want to keep my body in shape and ready for that huge undertaking. While I do tend to not hike as much during the winter, I am looking at a few overnights I can do around my home base.
Monday’s Conditioning Hike
Yesterday’s conditioning hike was at my usual Smithville Lake trail system. I particularly like this area for hiking since it has a variety of trails, both paved and dirt track. By piecing several trails together, I can hike anywhere from a couple of miles to upwards of 15-miles. Another option is to hike to the south end of the lake where there is a campground, spend the night, and then hike back to the trailhead for a decent 30+ mile, overnight hike; this is a fantastic way for me to do shakedown hikes with new gear.
Nothing exciting came out of this hike. It was a cool, windy morning when I set out from the trailhead. The trail was still a bit muddy in sections from the recent rains we’ve had, and a lot of the trees have shed their leaves. Between the rains and wind, I did have to scramble over a number of downed trees that fell across the trail. It was an easy 6+ mile hike, with my average speed around 23-minutes per mile. It seems no matter how much hiking I do, my average pace always stays between 20-minute miles to 25-minute miles. While I’m not going to set any speed records at that pace, I can live with it.