Pay attention…

How many of you hike, walk, run, and you have your ear buds in? Off in your own world. Maybe the music helps motivate you to push farther. Or maybe, you use the music to drown out the outside world; maybe even drowning out your own thoughts.

When I started hiking a few weeks ago, the thought of wiring myself into my earbuds raised up into my consciousness. I know when I used to walk/run in my neighborhood, I would do that. Off in my own world; only nodding and slightly acknowledging those around me.

But when I took up hiking, I decided to leave the ear buds at home. I decided to leave the music off. I’m glad I did. Leaving the ear buds at home has allowed me the freedom to pay more attention to my surroundings. Had I had my ear buds in yesterday, I probably would have completely missed the snake in the middle of the trail, only to see the last 10 inches of him as he slunk back into the weeds. Or, I would have completely missed my first sighting of a Painted Bunting in the wild! More on that later.

Maybe we’ve become so overloaded in our day to day lives, that we think drowning out the noise will help. But in drowning out the noise, we drown ourselves and miss opportunities that we might have otherwise had the honor of knowing and experiencing.

Yesterday’s hike was a long and hot one. Little over 3 miles. I laugh thinking about the hike. I was at Shoreline Trail, again. I love that this place is close and it’s great for a quick (ha!) 3 miler. If you start at Ridgepointe Park, at mile marker 2.5 there are two White-Winged Doves that apparently live in that area. It never fails that on my hikes through there, there is at least one if not two doves that hang out in the middle of the trail around that sign post. I think they live in the big tree just past that mile marker (heading to Stewart Peninsula). They’re funny birds…never wanting to leave the trail. I’ve even crossed to the far side in hopes of not disturbing them.

Just past that mile marker I was making my way to the “blackberry patch”, when I noticed something long laying in the middle of the trail. I slowed my pace and realized I had come upon a snake, taking advantage of the late afternoon sun and the warmth of the foot path. Nice thing about getting on the trail around 4:30PM. No one wants to hike/run in that type of heat. Yesterday was particularly fun given we had storms that morning, putting the humidity at a nice 50%. So Mr. Snake was taking advantage of the sun and the solitude of the trail given the hour.

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I made it to about the 1.5 mile mark of my hike and decided to do the loop just beyond the honeysuckle bushes. I found a spot to finally “stop” since my 1.5 was full throttle till I came upon the snake.

After re-hydrating and cooling off in the shade, it was time to head back.

Just as I was coming out of the area where the blackberry bushes live, I heard a huge commotion. I stopped to see what the fuss was about. Immediately off to my left, two Black-capped Chickadees were fussing with each other. Maybe it’s their mating season…but they were kicking up some noise. Flitting amongst the trees a third bird appeared. He was about the same size a the Chickadees, but his chest was red. I nearly brushed him off as one of the house finches, but something made me pay closer attention. I kept picking up blue on top…and then a flash of green. Sure enough, I had just seen my first Painted Bunting in the wild! I’ve seen pictures, I’ve heard of folks attracting them to their bird feeders, but never had I actually seen one. What a beautiful bird! He seemed to also be participating in this conversation the Chickadees were having. Then suddenly, a fourth bird appeared! A Ladder-back Woodpecker! I’m not sure what this meeting was about, but all I could do was stand there, listen and take it all in. I probably listened and watched for a good 5 to 10 minutes. Then they started flitting back into the trees away from the trail and I knew it was time for me to move on.

The remainder of the hike was uneventful. I’m like a horse heading to the barn when I know the finish is only .5 miles away. I get anxious ready to be done….if nothing else because by this time my feet were screaming at the heat.

Here’s the stats for yesterday:

Miles: 3.31 (wow! I did more miles than I remembered!)

Duration: 1:00:36

Pace per Mi: 18:17

Calories: 443

Elevation: 140ft.

I really need to setup a page specifically to track my times. Guess that goes onto the TODO list.

Lastly, and speaking of “paying attention”; an odd thing happened to me this morning. As of this morning I’m heading to San Francisco on business. I had gotten onto the airplane and settled into my seat. I was second guessing a decision I had made earlier this morning and couldn’t decide if I wanted to change my mind. As I was turning my phone off, I got a text message from an unknown number. It was a 214 number, but all it said was:

“Pay attention – : )”

I sent back a “?”, but at that point, we were pushing off from the gate so the phone had to go into off mode. What was especially odd was the time. I received the text at about 7:55AM; however, the time on the text was closer to 10:58AM. Very surreal….however, I’ll take it as a sign that the world is trying to tell me something.

Remember….pay attention!

If you’ve been following this blog in any shape or form, you know that last Saturday, June 14, I hike a little over 7 miles.  There wasn’t much downtime after that hike that day since I had to come home, shower, go grocery shopping, and fix dinner for 4!  As an aside, when I cook, I COOK!  We had Grilled Pear and Walnut Salad with Honey Goat Cheese and Fettuccine Alfredo….both the pasta and Alfredo were from scratch.  So needless to say by the time 10:00pm rolled around, I was spent.

So I toddle off the bed.  Somewhere in the middle of the night, nature called.  I head to the bathroom and sit down on the toilet.  At that point, I rested my elbows on my knees and bent my head forward being held up by my hands.

I have no idea how long I was like that…but I was startled awake when I felt like I was falling….except that instead of dreaming I was falling, I woke up and I was actually falling forward!  I was able to catch myself, but realized not only I had fallen asleep on the toilet, I had almost fallen off the toilet!  Good times!

I didn’t get as many evening hikes in this week.  I had the one hike this past Monday, but the rest of the week we had company in from out-of-town.

Yesterday I did the Shoreline trail again.  It’s a good all around trail and I can bang out the 7.x miles in little over 2 hours.  This time around, I hiked a straight 3 miles before stopping to take a small break.  I probably should have drank more water than I did.  The wildlife count for the day was 18 bunnies, 1 rat snake (whee!), 2 blue herons, a murder of crows, and two swallows or purple martins who nearly took my head off when they flew right at me!

Here’s the stats for yesterday as well:

Miles: 7.24

Duration: 2:17:33

Pace per Mile: 19:00

Calories: 957

 

Today I decided to check out the Nature Trail of Stewart Peninsula.   I parked in the same place that you would park for Shoreline Trail off of North Colony.  I then walked a little way up the road, crossed over where one residential road dead ends into North Colony, crossed the road and then headed to Stewart Park proper.

I first stopped by the pay station.  The woman was working on her Seduku; I hated to interrupt.  I asked if I needed to pay an entrance fee since I was walking in.  Luckily the answer was no, but she still looked at me oddly.  So off I went before she changed her mind.

I walked past a very nice camper where obviously someone from Park & Recreation actually live on the premises.  I continued walking west and finally came to a cement block building.  Just past it was the trail head for the nature walk.  Within a couple of feet, this greated me:

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You know what’s wrong with this?  Freakin’ nothing!  This is a great hike.  Deep woods, hiking on wood chipped trails.  There is evidence of past fires and blow downs (trees that had fallen) so occasionally I had to step over them….

It was a great hike…and you’re shaded by trees the whole way!

On the way back I found a side trail and figured I’d follow it.  I wasn’t disappointed.

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Another view of the path…I really liked this place.  It’s probably about one mile round trip.  This is the type of hike you don’t mind lingering a little longer than usual.

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Finally it was time to head back when I found these two taking advantage of both the shade and breeze we had today.

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Almost back to the truck, close to a small almost hidden creek I came across these holes.  I think these are probably crawdad holes.  At least that’s what I call ’em.  I think others call them “mud bugs”.

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And before we get to the real exciting part of this day, lets have a look at the stats:

Miles: 2.13

Duration: 47:34

Pace per Mi: 22:17 (I told you I took my time on this one!)

Calories: 295 (really?  That’s it?  With the temperature being in the upper 80s and humidity at 45% to 50%, surely I burned up more than that!?!)

Elevation: 374 ft

So…the “fun” part.  So I wore my usual hiking boots, but this time I opted for smart wool socks.  They provide better padding and pull moisture away from my foot.  I had the usual compression shorts along with my mountain pants.  Since we haven’t done laundry, I was out of lightweight breathable shirts, so I opted for a cotton t-shirt.  I slathered on my 50spf sunscreen and headed off.

Once I got home, I started stripping.  The first to come off were the t-shirt and my bra when I hear L say “OMG Honey!  What happened?” I turned around and said “What?”.  L says “Your back…have you seen it?  Go look in the mirror!”

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My first thought, was chiggers.  But chiggers typically are down low…they’d be around my ankles and calves.  Mosquito bites?  But why only on my back?  My arms, face, neck front and legs are all fine and show none of this!

So the t-shirt got thrown into the garage and I got thrown in the shower.  We used a combination of anti-bacterial soap and tea tree oil.  I’ll save it for another post, but I love tea tree oil.  That stuff is the bomb and is fantastic for wound care!  I can’t say enough good things and goodness knows with my known issues of injuring myself, it’s gone above and beyond the call of duty.

So…if you want to play a game of “Guess what’s eating me” feel free to leave it in the comments.  In the meantime I sit and wait.  So far no itching…but I’m guessing I’m going to have to figure out something other than a cotton t-shirt next time!

 

 

Goals

What is life if you don’t set goals?

My first goal is to reach a total of 50 miles hiking before I turn 50.  If you’ve been following along, you’ll see that I’ve already logged a total of 17 miles.  Can I reach 50 before 50; I have no doubt.

So what happens when I hit 50 miles and still have months to go?  Why I figure out my next goal!  The point is to keep a reasonable and attainable goal in front of me at all times.  This very much mirrors my professional life.  That methodology has served me well professionally, and I no doubt it’ll serve me well here.

What are your goals?  Feel free to share in the comments!  We can keep each other on task!

When I first stepped foot on the Shoreline Trail a week ago, my goal was to be able to do a complete round trip. That’s 7.0 miles total.

Yesterday, I accomplished that goal!

I set out for my Saturday hike on the trail and was at mile 3.0 when I realized I only had .5 mile to get to the other end. Since I have hiked this trail from both ends, I knew it be a pretty easy hike ending with the last 100 feet through a very lovely cedar break. Now granted, I had the prospect of having to hike that same distance back, but I was feeling really good and felt I could accomplish it.

For today’s hike I started the trail from Ridgepointe Park. So that meant my break at the 3.5 mile point was going to be The Stewart Peninsula side. As I sat and ate my sandwich I had packed for the trail, I suddenly realized that there is no port-o-potty on this side of the hike. The port-o-potty is actually on the other side, where I started, at Ridgepointe. This was going to make for an interesting hike back!

I started back toward Ridgepointe. By this time the sun had started to climb and the clouds were burning off. I was heading right into the sun and could feel it on my face. I found a place to stop and reapply sunscreen. The heat was definitely building as there are several sections of the trail where it seemed that no breeze what so ever was to be found.

This entire hike back the only thing on my mind was how bad I had to pee. Stop to apply sunscreen, “Man I gotta pee”. Stop to drink water, “Hey…liquid…I still gotta pee.” Stop for a rest in the shade…you get the idea.

I finally got back to a section of the trail that probably in all likelihood was probably the worst place for me to step off the trail. It’s an intersection of sorts where an access trail joins the main trail. It’s sort of at the top of the hill, but it gave me a full view of anyone coming along the trail from either direction plus up the access path. At this point I was desperate, so I dropped by hip pack, stepped off into a clump of trees and answered the call of nature. Whew…that was a close call!

Finally being relieved, I could now focus on a more important task…finishing this hike! I alway find the last 1.5 miles to be the hardest. I was hot, tired, and my feet were none too happy! Rounding that last .25 miles never felt so good….but it wasn’t until my Jeep was in full view that I could finally let out a huge sigh of relief.

So what have I learned from this. For one thing if I do this round trip hike again, I need to start from the peninsula so that I at least have a port-o-potty to stop off at on the Ridgepointe Park side. Secondly, I’m going back to my baseball caps. I have a Columbia had that I wore this time…but it was too floppy…the wind kept catching the brim and instead of keeping the sun off my face, instead the brim would flip up and was more exposed to the sun.
Lastly, I did think I had to do more than pee. I seriously considered stopping by one of the pet stations for a bag; but luckily didn’t need to make that stop. So I may want to consider a plastic bag and a few squared of toilet paper…just in case.

Here’s the numbers from yesterday:

Miles: 7.27

Duration: 2:19:13

Pace Per Mi: 19:08

Calories: 998

I may stick with Shoreline Trail for another week or so and then find my next trail to start working on. Shoreline is a good trail to work with for training and of course I can’t been the location!

And for those of you interested in looking at a map of the trail, here you go!

Map of Shoreline Trail, The Colony, TX

Wednesday, June 12, 2014

Did another hike. Same trail, just started from the other end. I’ll switch back and forth just to get different perspective but honestly….out there it doesn’t matter since the views either way are great! It just feels good to get away, walking on the trail. I lost track of time and miles tonight. I meant to only do another 2.5 mile hike. 1.25 in and back. However, the next thing I know I was at the 1.5 mile mark and realized I was going to put in 3 miles today. I’m not complaining although my feet are!

The chaffing issue still continues. Baby powder and compression shorts help, but now the shorts are starting to rub me around the circumference of my thighs. I mean really…what the hell?

My feet hurt but luckily no blisters. It’s more of a muscular ache in my feet which I assume will go away with time as I build up the muscle in my feet and calves. I owe the fact that I have no blisters to the fact that while I’ve had my hiking boots for a year (they’re Merrell….love Merrell!), I think they’ve only seen two trails that entire time. Otherwise I’ve simply worn them out and about or used them when I worked in the yard….I know…such a waste of such a good hiking boot…but that has thankfully led to no blisters since they are worn in without being worn out!

Anyway…here’s the stats for today:

Miles: 3.04 mi

Duration: 58:14

Pace per MI: 19:10

Calories: 404

Elevation: 562ft

I’m using RunKeeper for my stats. I always laugh when I see the elevation. This is Texas and there doesn’t ever really seem to be any real elevation. I wonder if that’s what it thinks I achieved in elevation or that’s the general elevation of the hiking trail. Guess I’ll have to dig into the help files on that one; but if anyone knows, feel free to leave the definition in the comments!

I had to go to the doctor today for refills…seems I’m at 202lbs and not the 200 I thought. Oh goody. At least I know where I’m starting.

Training Day

Today is what I would call a “training day”.

Basically I only do 2 miles…maybe just a little more if I feel like it.  I laid off yesterday to give my shocked body time to recuperate.  This time I started the Shoreline Trail from the Stewart Peninsula side.  I was pleased to find the hike starts off in a cedar grove and them immediately opens to Lake Lewisville.   Of course, I did get to see how the other half lives in The Colony as the start of this side of the trail is right along a number of homes who call Lake Lewisvill their back yard.  I suspect the lake used to be closer, much closer than it is now given the drought conditions that we’ve been having for the past several years!

Here are the stats for the day:

Miles: 2.58

Duration: 49:23

Pace per Mile: 19:11

Calories: 341

Elevation: 410ft (not sure how much this is to be trusted since this was an “out and back” type hike)

Chafing report…I’ve been wearing the men’s compression briefs for the last several days, including today.  I did apply baby powder before I headed out and I was wearing the compression briefs.  After I got home and a quick shower, I can say I can now wear shorts without having to resort to the briefs and I’m not walking like I’m bowlegged.  I wouldn’t call this a success exactly…I’ve simply found a possible way to keep myself comfortable in the mean time.

The problem I did have this time, and how do I put this….was with <whispers> hemorrhoids.  I’m telling you, the last thing you ever want to do is try to hike when that bit of business is going on.  We might as well have taken a blow torch to my ass!  Anyway…note to self…if I even think that’s going to be an issue, take care of it before going out on the trail.  It’ll make for a much better hike.  Which leads me to question what do folks who hike the AT (Appellation Trail), the PCT (Pacific Coast Trial), or the CD (Continental Divide) do when this issue comes up?  I mean I’ve read plenty of books and stories about folks who have done these “massive” hikes and now that I come to think of it, I don’t remember any of them mentioning this problem or how they solved it.  Did they think about it before they left so they were prepared or did they have to suffer through days and days of agony.  Inquiring minds want to know!

Anyway…so today is in the bag.  I haven’t decided if I’m going to try again for another 2 mile training day tomorrow.  I’ve got house work and stuff that needs to be done sooner rather than later and giving my body a day to recoop in between probably isn’t a bad idea.  Wouldn’t want to over do it!

Oh..and before forget here’s the wild life count (this is VERY important):

2 Bunnies (we love BunBuns)

Several Ducks

A Heron (white)

Turtles (probably 3 or 4)

and the usual cast of birds.

Not bad for a day where it rained most of the day.  Again, the wind coming off the lake was nice.  I hope it’s like that all the time.  If not these reports will start detailing my hikes through Death Valley when we get to 100+ degree days here in North Texas!

Chafing

I’d like to turn your attention to a very disagreeable condition called “chafing”. At least that’s what the internet tells me it is. The internet also tells me it’s called “Monkey Butt”. I kid you not. It’s a common problem for hikers, bikers, tri athletes and the like.

What ever it is and what ever it’s called, I don’t like it.

Effectively yesterday while hiking my thighs rubbed together to the point that when I finally got home, I realized that I was walking like I’d just been riding a horse for most of the day. My plans this day entailed me later taking a train up to Denton and walking over the Oak St. Drafthouse and Cocktail Parlor and the thought of walking through Denton like I’d just rode into town did not appeal to me. However, it is Denton, and I suspect no one would notice. But I would notice, I would be in pain!

The common prescription for this said condition called chafing seems to be something called Bodyglide. You can pick it up at any of the typical chain sports stores; however don’t confuse it with Body Glide which is for a completely different use which is WAY beyond the scope of this blog.

Seeing how I’m lazy and didn’t feel like making it over to Academy Sports, I decided to run an experiment. Other solutions include the use of either baby powder or baby oil in the infected regions. I’ve also seen Vaseline, but that’s a little too “goopy” for my tastes.

I did come up with one solution that has pleased me immensely. You know those compression briefs worn by men? Guess what….they are fantastic for chafing! These things are a God send. It keeps my thighs from sticking and I can actually walk like a normal human being.

The only problem I’ve found with the compression briefs: it’s Texas….we’re heading into summer. So, I have on underwear, the compression briefs and shorts. Nothing about this screams “cool as a cucumber” trust me…

I know this is way more information than you ever wanted to know about my chafing situation. But seeing how it’s my duty to share these things, it’s all part of the plan.

Anyway, tomorrow is Monday. My plan is to leave the office at 4p, be on the trail at 4:30p. I’m probably NOT going to try and pound out a 4 mile hike. I’ll leave those for the weekend. For the weekdays, what I like to call “training”, I’ll try and do 2 maybe 2.5 miles a day.

I’ll let you know how the combination of baby oil and compression shorts work. I know you’ll want to know!

Forgive me, but this’ll be a combo post….meaning you have to suffer through my confessions and my data to finally get to something that I hope resembles a trail review.

First up, confessions.

I’m a white female, 49 years old, 200+ lbs (probably 210lb), and a 40ish waste.  I didn’t always used to be at this weight.  At one point I was running 2 miles every other day, lifting weights, and weighing in at an easy 120lbs….my fighting weight.  Then life happened.  I settled down, started realizing that I liked good food and drink more than I liked running.  As the excuses not to exercise began to increase so did my weight.  It’s not that I’m unhappy with where I am; it’s that I know I have it in me to do better.  I just have to “make” that decision…and that’s what today was about.

Second, data.

Yes…I will share my data.  How I feel before the hike, how much and what I carried with me, how much water I drank, weather, distance, etc.  So here goes….

In the pack:

I have a hip pack that I love for these easy hikes.  I picked it up 20 years ago at some store in Truckee, CA and it still serves me well!  It great for day hikes or just a run around hip bag.  Yes…I know you’ll call it a fanny pack, but it’s oh so much more.

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So…what went i the pack on this trip.

Bandana                              32g

Duct Tape                           40g (because…duct tape!)

Hand Sanitizer                   75g

Emergency Blanket           53g

Compass                              23g

iPhone                                  162g

Inhaler                                 23g  (yes…I’m asthmatic)

Medical Kit                         154g

Book: Scats & Tracks       150g (don’t judge…it brings me pleasure…)

Water                                   1.076kg (2 16.9oz ounces of water….essentially 2 bottles of water)

Camera                                136g

Hip Pack                             105g

Chapstick                            7g  (apparently you do count everything!)

Moleskin Notebook          134g

Pencil                                   4g

So…we have a total of 2.144kg, or 4.73lbs.  Could I have lived without some of the stuff above….sure.  But the pack didn’t feel like a burden so I think that’s a good start in the weight department.  Now for the times.

Miles:  4.31 miles

Duration: 1:27:25 Hours, minutes

Pace per Mile: 20:17

For someone who has not exercised all year, I’m pretty happy with this.  I felt good.  I probably was pushing it that last mile.  My left hand was swelling up and I probably had the beginnings of a little heat exhaustion.  I did take a couple of breaks to take pictures or sit a minute and drink water.  Its funny, I can hike 4 miles…no problem.  But running?  No.  I just need to make sure I get out there more often!

Finally…..

I moved to The Colony 5 years ago and admit that I don’t really get out and do much.  The city has gotten some great reviews, even being ranked most playful city at some point recently.  I couldn’t figure out how we got that designation.  I had heard the city had done a great job having these trails systems, but I hadn’t bothered to take the time and expend the effort.  Today, I did and I am glad.

The Shoreline trail is a great hike.  Nice wide easy path of crushed granite.  You pass through black prairie which runs through this small sliver of Texas from the Oklahoma border all the way down to San Antonio.  The city has tried to preserve this sliver of prairie since much of it has disappeared.  Lots of birds.  Next time I need to bring the binoculars and my iPad and do some serious birding out there!  The trial is shared by everyone…hikers, mountain/off road bikers, runners.  Everyone is friendly and right of ways are well respected.  You can bring you dog on the trail.  They have doggy stations at a couple of points on the trail if you need to pick up after your pup.  Plenty of trash cans and recycle stations as well.  And of course, there’s signs along the way to explain what your seeing in the area.

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There is a wildlife area…I got a kick out of the sign saying not to pick the berries.

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I thought “Yeah…sure…there’s probably one bush back there”; but around the bend I was hit with that sweet aroma of ripening blackberries and sure enough on either side of the trail there was nothing but bushes.

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Apparently the native wildlife enjoy them (who wouldn’t).  I saw quite a few tracks in this area, including deer which really surprised me!  That’s cool if there is deer in the area.  I may have to do a late evening hike to see if I can get a glimpse of them!

Anyway…it was a really lovely hike.  I suspect it will become my go to “training” area.  I would prefer to walk / hike there vs. walking around my neighborhood.

Stay tuned…the adventure will continue!

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Beginnings

It’s been well over 10 years since I’ve strapped on a backpack and hit the trails.

In that time, I’ve had injuries, heartache, found love, settled down, gained weight, gained furr kids and am living in the concrete suburbian hell we’ve all grown to know and love.

Tomorrow, all that changes.

June 7, 2014 is National Trails Day and I can think of no better way of getting in my boots than to start hiking and start sharing both my journey and adventure with you!

I hope to share those experiences with you through this blog!  Together we’ll get reacquainted with the outdoors.  I’ll share my wonder and my wanderings; no matter how big or small.  Along the way we’ll learn new things, laugh at ourselves and drink plenty of water (trail) and beer (after trail) along the way!

So please join me in the adventure!  Let’s get going!

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