I’m 46, I’m fat, I’m sedentary, and I have a gazillion health problems.
For years, I’ve viewed my body as my enemy, or at the very minimum a foreign entity with which I’m saddled against my will. Not a healthy perspective. Moving has helped a great deal–I’m not sure how I can explain the connection between my self-concept and my immediate environment, so you’ll just have to take me on faith that the ground I walk on is important to me, as is the view from my window and the smell in the air. Now that I’m surrounded by trees, smelling pine, I’m happier.
But I’m still 46, fat, sedentary, with health problems…and possible more surgery upcoming (but I won’t think about that now, because it may not happen).
For a couple of years, I’ve had the pipe dream that I wanted to hike the Appalachian Trail. Not all 2100 miles of it, certainly not at once, but *part* of it. Even a small part. For someone with my health conditions, as dependent as I am on pharmacology multiple times a day to keep living, that’s a big pipe dream. Lately, I’ve decided, against all conventional wisdom, that I’ll do it. A hundred miles a year, maybe. Starting (as we all like milestones) the summer after I turn fifty.
Which gives me four years to slim down, get in shape, try to get rid of some of the medicines I need (or least find ones lightweight and easy to pack…), and learn what I need to learn to not die the first five miles.
I’m very, very excited. Seriously excited.
Aside from just reading books (another blog entry, that one) and looking at maps, I’ve had to start, well, *walking*. Not quite hiking yet (although I have hiking sticks with me), but at least forward motion, not on pavement, for more than a few minutes at a time. Another good thing about my move is that there are gazillions of hiking trails in my area, not least of which is a series of trails many miles long, of varying difficulty levels, practically out my front door. Seriously.
I’ve gone out walking a few times now, and this week I set a new goal: I need to get at least a half-hour of exercise in, every five days out of seven, minimum. So far so good. Aside from walking, I have big plans of joining the golf course here and taking up golf (after twenty-five freaking years), and getting my canoe water-ready and in the Rum River which is a block from my house.
My first few attempts were wonderful disasters. Wonderful in that I felt awesome and walked and walked and walked and walked–for two hours or more–which left FibroGirl here *wasted* for days and days afterward, barely able to breathe. It feels so good at the time, I don’t feel like stopping. But I’m learning. I need to build. (Note: it’s not muscle-pain that slays me–there’s not even a whole lot of that–but absolute exhaustion, mental and physical, that is the fallout in fibro, and the deep, chronic, non-muscle-strain type of pain that is debilitating.)
My short terms goals are simple: by this upcoming autumn, I hope to be able to walk for a day (a few hours, with breaks) with a small pack with lunch, without wiping out my whole week. And lose 50 pounds.
By next summer, I hope to have lost another 50 pounds and by the following autumn, be able to weekend hike to walk-in camp sites, with full pack.
I’ll worry about further goals leading up to the AT (I figure three weeks’ worth at a time, every summer, for that) later. These first ones, first. And if takes me longer, who cares. I’m not going to fret about that. As thruhikers on the AT tend to say, “Hike your own hike.” This is me, doing something for me, on MY damn time.
In order to help me forward with my goals, I plan to blog fairly regularly about my hikes, with photos. I’ve already made lists of places nearby (within an hour or two of home) to hike on weekends this summer, and I want to keep it interesting. I want the hikes themselves to be worthy, not just a means to an end. I want to live in the present while I’m preparing for the future.
To begin, some pictures and notes from walks (hikes) already taken this spring, in and around Milaca, MN and Onamia, MN:
Hike #1: March, 2012.
This was the day we discovered the trails just across the road from us. It was an unseasonably warm day in March, not covered in snow (but only patches) because this spring has been so weird, and we set out to see what was up Riverside Drive across the highway from us. We found, first of all, a gorgeous, hilly, expansive cemetery, and secondly, paths from it to all over the place. This particular day we chose to walk down to town via the path over the Rum River, to Rec Park, then across town to my mother’s nursing home for a visit.
Justin, on the road leading up to what will be new discoveries for us:
Hike #2: April, 2012.
We walked up to the cemetery again, but decided to take the paths west from it to see where they went. There are many categories of trails here…miles and miles of them…but they all start here. We walked around a slough, through some woods and bogs, to the river, and back again via a stand of pines. We walked for hours, and it was incredibly pleasant. I’d forgotten my walking stick, however, and only grabbed a branch partway through. Not a mistake I’ll likely make again.
Hike #3: April 23, 2012.
Took the Milaca trails again, but this time on a different route, one that resulted in very up-and-down, hilly, densely wooded trails, and our getting lost, basically, not knowing the way back. It was hella fun, though, and we did make it back after a couple of hours. Wiped me out, but was pretty darn worth it!
Hike #4: April 24, 2012.
Onamia, MN, is on the Soo Line Trail, a long ATV/bike trail that runs from Genoa, MN (southwest of Onamia) to Superior, Wisconsin, over 114 miles away. Across Highway #169 in Onamia, the the Soo crosses via an immense bridge, and I’d always wanted to walk over it. S o, we started in the heart of town and followed it out a way, on a warm, sunny afternoon, and returned. I want to do various sections of this trail, too; preferably in the woods.
Hike #5: April 28, 2012 (today!).
I had the idea to go to Riverside Park in Milaca and check it out, which we did…but a walking wonderland, it’s not. Great for picnics, or landing your canoe, and would be fantastic for frisbee. So, after walking the river as far as we could, we headed back to the Milaca trail system and did the “red” (difficult”) section again, for about an hour. Lots of up and down, lots of trees, and since today was very cold and overcast, it was, at times, nearly spooky…but that only added to the fun.