Betsy C’s Weblog

Trying to grow as an individual while growing connected.

4/12/09 – Rainy Easter weekend April 12, 2009

Filed under: Uncategorized — makingstrides @ 10:46 am

This weekend, because of the holiday, we had no organized hike.  On these weekends, we manage our own hike training, and lots of people in the group make their own hike plans.  But it was a rainy weekend, and we went out of town for Easter, so I didn’t end up hiking this weekend.  I get a fair bit of exercise each week without the hikes, but I miss getting out there in nature!

Unfortunately I already know I have to miss next week too, since we will be away.  It’s frustrating when things are so busy and hectic to miss the one event in my week that has such a calming and restorative effect on me.


4/4/09 – Revisiting our first hike April 4, 2009

Filed under: Uncategorized — makingstrides @ 4:31 pm
Today we hiked again on the very first trail (path?) we hiked back in February.  It’s a paved, fairly flat 3 mile loop in a park.  In February it was covered in ice.  Today, it was like hiking in a different park, and that was a real eye-opener.  I went in thinking I had hiked this path before, but it was a totally different hike experience than last time.
I think that’s one of my favorite things about nature – the change.  The environment, even just that piece of it in this park, is so complex that there’s always something new to discover.  The reminder for me is to keep my eyes open and make those new discoveries.
Change is such a natural part of life, and yet it’s so difficult for many people to deal with.  Accepting change certainly didn’t come naturally to me.  But I think I must have realized in my late teens that resisting change on all fronts is one huge exercise in futility, and I worked hard to find ways to deal with change.  I now feel confident saying that I manage change pretty well. 
Still, we all need a reminder sometimes of the things that aren’t so natural to us, and today’s hike did that for me.

3/28/09 – How hiking feels March 28, 2009

Filed under: Uncategorized — makingstrides @ 10:24 pm
Today we hiked another part of “the AT” called Hawk Rock.  This one was another difficult, long hike, with a steep incline in the first mile or so.  Unlike last week, I felt fresh and ready for this hike, and it was an exhausting but wonderful experience.  And it was a little lesson in perception.
As part of my job in higher ed administration, I usually teach once a year, and I often teach organizational behavior.  One of the chapters is about perception, with the big lesson being that the human brain puts “true” experiences or information through a lot of filters so our perceptions are not always correct.  Some of these perceptual biases or effects were at work during our hike today.
First, I found that the difficulty of the hike was tempered by the social interaction we had.  It was a difficult hike, but I didn’t feel it that much while we were actually hiking.  We had lots of great conversation going, and instead of feeling difficult it really felt fun.  However, I knew afterwards that it was physically challenging when I “laid down for a few minutes” upon getting home and fell asleep for 4 hours. 
The second funny perceptual effect is that the hiking out seems to take so much longer than the hiking back.  This hike was not a loop – we hiked one way on the trail for a certain amount of time, then returned back the way we came.  On the way out, I keep thinking about whether we’re to the turnaround point yet.  On the way back, I have no trouble zoning out a bit and socializing, and the time passes so much more quickly (it seems).
This is a great reminder to me that I need to be able to let things go a little bit.  I tend to be very task focused, and I have trouble relaxing or clearing my mind any time I”m doing something that could be construed as a task.  That can be good – it helped me get through school and college, and it often has rewards in the workplace too.  But sometimes it works against my mental state, and it certainly isn’t conducive to relaxing or unwinding.
Once again I find that the physical challenge of these hikes is wonderful, but that the mental challenge is so valuable for my self awareness and mental state.

3/21/09 – Struggling on the trail March 21, 2009

Filed under: Uncategorized — makingstrides @ 11:23 pm
Today we hiked part of the Appalachian Trail at Clark’s Ferry (in Pennsylvania).  It was a grueling hike, partially because it was long (we hiked for about 6 hours altogether) and partially because there is a 1000-foot rise in the first mile.  Things have been busy lately, and I was feeling exhausted before I even left the house today.  There were a couple points during the hike where I thought I might not have the strength to keep lifting my feet.  Today was the first time that the hike gave my mental game such a challenge.
Our hike leaders and mentors remind us when things get tough that this mental “game” is important, and I love that they relate it to the experience of people with cancer.  Dealing with a cancer diagnosis and treatment is a huge strain on a person’s mental game, and it’s the kind of battle that you can’t decide to quit.  This hike was a little bit similar – I suppose I could have refused to go any further, but I still would have had to hike that distance back to the parking area.
Today’s hike really made me question my own mettle.  Would I have the courage to deal with a serious illness?  I started realizing that for me courage falters more when it comes to things that are unfamiliar to me or that I don’t know much about.  Being out in the wilderness is definitely a little bit foreign to me, and it was harder than usual to feel confident and keep myself going.
Afterwards, when I had fought through the exhaustion, I felt really good about the experience.  I’m not suggesting that it’s healthy for people to push themselves past their physical limits.  I was never in actual physical danger.  But the mental challenge ended up being a great experience, and a reminder that I sometimes need to be pushed outside of my comfort zone in order to grow as an individual.

3/15/09 – No hike this weekend March 15, 2009

Filed under: Uncategorized — makingstrides @ 9:52 am
This weekend was one of our weekends without an organized hike, when we’re responsible for training on our own.  Whenever we have a weekend like this, I prefer to do some other kind of working out and take a break from the “usual” Saturday of hiking.  My very favorite other activity is walking the dog or chasing him around the dog park.  But I also have several workout DVDs that I love to do.  It doesn’t get any more convenient than working out in your own living room!

3/7/09 – Missed the hike March 7, 2009

Filed under: Uncategorized — makingstrides @ 9:49 pm

Today I missed the hike because I was sick with a migraine.  I’ve had migraines since college, and they are a curse.  The good news is that I identified my triggers long ago.  The bad news is that I often can’t avoid them – they are things like exhaustion, eye strain, and stress.  Things are particularly difficult at work this semester, and that’s usually a recipe for increased frequency of migraines.


2/28/09 – First tough hike February 28, 2009

Filed under: Uncategorized — makingstrides @ 12:00 am
Today was the first really challenging hike on our schedule.  We hiked about 5 miles (2.5 out & 2.5 back the same way), with a steady uphill climb the whole way out.  The terrain was rocky and a little slippery.  I loved it, even though it was tough!  I knew it was a tough hike when I got home afterwards and told my significant other I was just going to lie down and rest for an hour.  Four hours later, I woke up ravenous and couldn’t stop eating for the rest of the evening.  Whoo!  Feels great to use my muscles like this!
This first difficult hike made me really appreciate two things that I don’t appreciate on a regular day – the shoes I was wearing and the food I brought.  I bought a pair of hiking boots from the new END (Environmentally Neutral Design) company.  I don’t wear leather because I’m vegetarian-just-about-vegan, and beyond the dead cow issue, I also think carefully about the environmental and societal impact of my purchases.  So I was excited that this company started up recently, and just came out with hiking boots.  I find them to be really comfortable, but I was initially worried because they are very lightweight.  I’m not an expert in hiking and mountaineering, so there may be times where heavy boots are absolutely necessary.  But for our purposes, they are perfect!  I was thinking at one point during the hike that taking all those steps (thousands?) with heavier boots would have made me immensely more tired.  Loving my END boots so far!
The second thing I appreciated today was food.  I rarely use up so much energy that I’m deeply hungry, but the hike today made me hungry.  It was an interesting reminder of how easy we have things on a normal daily basis – the grocery store, fully stocked, is always within a short drive.  But we were out in the middle of nowhere, on foot, and hungry.  I haven’t had to plan my food for survival in a long time.  (well, maybe not quite survival, but the closest thing I’ve experienced in a while)  I sometimes forget that this is what people in some times and areas deal with (or dealt with) every day!
*sigh*  It’s so great to do something new and different.  I find myself learning more about myself.