This past weekend I had the opportunity to do something I haven't done in many years - go hiking in the sub-alpine meadows of Manning Park in Beautiful British Columbia, Canada.
I used to go there often. Initially into the front-country campgrounds, doing loop day-hikes around lakes and nature trails. Later when I first took up backpacking, my first "test runs" were into Manning Park. I vividly remember one enthusiastic evening, taking off from work, driving to the base of the Heather Trail, and literally running 5km, backpack and all, to arrive at Buckthorn Camp while there was still a glimmer of daylight. Good times!
Somewhere along the way... this all stopped. Initially due to "baby" (though we would still camp and do day-hikes with the little guy in a baby-backpack). But it slowly faded away... and next thing you knew, I wouldn't have been able to snap up the waist strap of my backpack, let alone walk any distance (with or without pack). I haven't done a proper hike in several years. I haven't been in the Manning Park subalpine in almost 2 decades.
So, there we were. Setting out along the Heather Trail... 5km to Buckthorn... should we? Or should we stick with Paintbrush Loop? Awww, let's go to Buckthorn, if it seems too much we can turn back at the halfway point.
About 1.25 hours later.... there we were. HOLY COW!!!!! That wasn't even bad!!!!!! Perched on a raised tent pad overlooking a small stream and chowed down on a packet of beef jerky and some cherry tomatoes. Swatted mosquitoes. Thought about how it hasn't changed much in 20 years. Contemplated that it would not be any problem to overnight here... it was EASY with a daypack and certainly do-able with a light backpack..... my gosh.... rolling back the years, i'm 20-something again, eagerly planning my next hike!
Then we ascended 5km back to the parking lot. Oh, ok. Yeah it's labelled an "easy" trail - and I know it is - I've been on "moderate" and "hard" before, I know this is a walk-in-the-park compared to what a cross-country hike can be. But still, there was elevation gain every step of that 5km. And yet.. and yet... although my body let me know about it, it just wasn't as hard as I expected.
Well. Until we were almost back, and decided instead of taking the longer switchback route, we'd take the
up the hill. Ah yes, Dr. Evil, you use your air quotes well. A "short cut" never comes without strings attached. And a SHORT cut UP to the parking lot... Short + Up = STEEP.
Sure enough, came around a corner and there it was. A staircase built into the trail. A million steps at least! Holy! That's a lot of steps! Wow! This is going to be difficult!!!!!
One.. two.. three.. four...
Twenty six... twenty seven...
Fifty nine... sixty...
Seventy and counting...
Eighty nine, ninety......... NINETY ONE.
Ninety one steps and I did NOT stop once.
(though, I was puffing pretty hard on that 91st step and pretty glad there wasn't a 92nd).
Cut back to August 2012. I was travelling in New Zealand. Came to an interesting waterfall. The trail took you to the top of the falls, but you could climb down to the bottom. I got HALFWAY down, and knew that going upwards would be a challenge, so I ultimately refused to go to the bottom. From the halfway point back up was about 100 steps. I only made it by breaking it into 10-step increments. Ten stairs.... rest. Ten more... rest (longer). Ten... well ok eight... rest. Five... rest. Five... oh just leave me here to die!!!! Descending, I hadn't been able to appreciate the beauty of where I was, because all I could focus on was "how will i get back up"... ascending was sheer hell.
And fifty pounds lighter - I POWERED up NINETY ONE steps in a row. As if i were some 28-year old, hmm!
This is the most exciting thing about weight loss.... the rolling-back-the-years.