|Approaching Maxwell Lake|
Though I don't feel slow, there have been times when I have definitely gotten my trail legs. All those times, it took at least ten days of hiking, every day, all day, to feel the change. Once was on the John Muir Trail, and I strode up Forrester Pass at a rapid clip, unstoppable. The other two times were also on the PCT, in two separate Washington sections. On one, we had just completed a 23 mile day and I felt like continuing on forever, not wanting to stop. The other time, Flash and I had resolutely stuck to our 16 mile days, until we didn't--we were getting to our planned campsites by two in the afternoon, and heading on, our new normal becoming over 20 miles.
It was the same way when I used to run long distances. "Let's do twelve miles and see how we do," B proposed one day to three of us. Twelve miles! It had been forever since I had run that far. It was daunting, and we shuffled through. By the end of marathon training, we were ecstatic at the thought of running "only" 16 miles. Things had clicked, and we floated along on our marathon legs.
As a weekend warrior, it's hard to keep your trail legs. On a good work day, I might have an hour to exercise. I throw myself out the door with abandon, trying to see how far I can run/bike/hike before I am called back to a conference call. So the weekends are it, and I make the most of them.
Lately I've attempted a few difficult hikes. I embarked on the trail to Maxwell Lake, which is only four miles one way, but includes a heart-sinking climb in the last mile. I may have whimpered as I slogged upward, the one hundred degree temperatures not helping much. On the way down, I passed some defeated hikers, the heat and the climb just too much.
|The swimming was perfection.|
But of course it didn't. I had just forgotten the steep scree, the trail going straight to the sky. I reached the lake and threw myself in. As I left the lake the following morning, congratulating myself for making it without dying, I encountered a trail runner I knew. We were back on the main trail, and I wondered where she was going.
"Eagle Cap!" she proclaimed. Okay, that was just a 35 mile run. Feeling slightly less badass, I continued on. It's a good thing I am not very competitive. Just with myself.
|Some people do this as a day hike. It's a long one, 16 miles. I decided to camp.|
|Ruby races at full speed along Dollar Lake. She always has her trail legs.|
It's all right though--I know I can get them back. Give me a chunk of time, a few hard hikes, and they will return.