To hike or not to hike

Sunday, February 21, 2010

This is a long one….

First hike of the year! First hike for a very long time. My brother Shannon started hiking last year and had asked me numerous times to go. First, I always said no, then I started agreeing but would always cancel. This time, I said yes and actually meant it.

Shannon, Anne, & I went to Rattlesnake Ledge yesterday. It’s a 4 mile hike, 2 miles up and 2 miles back down. I had new hiking boots to break in, wore my layers, and had my water. I was all set.

But….I was so tempted to cancel, again. Steve asked me why the night before and the most basic answer was “I am lazy.” But it was actually more than that. The last year or so my legs have just decided to betray me. The calves tighten up very quickly with any walking, and the more I walk, the tighter and hotter they get. And it hurts, a lot. I try not to complain about it, but it’s hard when I’m with people and each step hurts. So, I was a little worried about that happening. I have been taking magnesium which helped a lot at first, but perhaps my body has gotten too used to it.

But….I want to hike, I want to exercise (kind of!), and I want to lose weight. More than that, I want to spend time with people I enjoy, I want to try new things, I want to get out.

We get to the parking lot and walk towards the trail. Shannon points out the top of a MOUNTAIN and says, “That’s where we’re going.” “Ha ha, funny. Where are really going?” We really were going to the top of that mountain.

We start walking up the trail, and it’s a slow incline, not too bad. But, 5 minutes in, there go the legs. And with each step it’s getting worse and worse. What should I do? Stop and rest? Keep pushing on? Go back? I’m barely noticing the beautiful place we are because of the pain and because of my indecision about what to do.

I tell them I need to stop. Both Shannon and Anne are supportive and tell me to stop whenever I need to. I had already warned them of my “leg issues.” Can I really describe how hard it is to keep taking another step when it feels like I have bands through the back of my calves that feel they are about to snap? Not to keep complaining, but it is painful.

We go a little further and I have to stop again. I’m trying not to get upset, and the more I try, the harder it is. I end up crying on the trail and try to hide it from Shan & Anne but the big gulps of air gasps and the shaking of my body as my back is to them are all big giveaways. They ask what’s wrong, and I realize all that is wrong. I don’t like feeling like this…not just out of shape, but like my body is betraying me, that I want to do this but I can’t, that no effort I ever make will ever work. I get so hopeful and then something just makes it seem like it’s all futile. “No girl, no matter what you do you won’t lose weight, you won’t be in shape. We won’t allow it. Get used to how you are.” and that’s a horrible way for anyone to feel!!! It’s not right.

I really try to be positive towards myself and my efforts. I try not to insult myself, or use mean words about my body. But dang, sometimes it’s just almost impossible.

So I finally catch my breath and tell them let’s go on. They are both very supportive and patient (Thank you both!) We keep going with lots of breaks and then I get to a point where I’m pretty sure I can’t go any further. Shannon goes to see how far the halfway point is from there and comes back and says he doesn’t think it’s too far….what to do? I decide to try to at least make it to halfway point (this is only halfway up, not halfway done.)

We walk walk walk, and get to the halfway point. And at this point…I realize my legs feel slightly better. With all the excursion around Greenlake that Steve & I did last year I never had the experience of my legs getting better the more I walked, it was always worse. So I had no experience of getting to a point where it was actually bearable. But apparently is is possible.

We continue all the way to the top, with MANY MANY stops. And the bitch of it all? It got STEEPER the closer we were to the top. Who the hell thought that was funny?

It was beautiful at the top. The view was awesome…and I had done it. I had lugged all the weight up there, even if it had taken 3 hours, when the entire hike up & down is supposed to take 2 hours. Oh, I had a bunch of pictures too but promptly managed to erase them all as I was getting read to write this blog. Yay for me!!! But I’ll take making it to the top over being computer savvy.

The walk down was much faster, but still a little hard. My poor ankles were sore. And we were all so hungry! But it was good to be sore and tired and have my calves yelling at me while my stomach rumbled. It’s not just about saying “I did it.” I think it’s a little proof that I don’t have to be who I am at this moment, that I have the capacity for change. That the only person who’s locked me into a certain image is myself.

I have to give a HUGE shoutout to Shannon & Anne. I don’t know if most people would have been as patient, and as happy about being so patient with me. I was even able to laugh a few times.

Picture – looking up at the beginning of the trail.

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Member Comments About This Blog Post
    Thank you for sharing this wonderful story. I've had similar experiences when I was overweight, and was sore for a week after the weekend warrior experience. If you can walk a little bit every day (get a pedometer and work up to 10k steps), you'll be amazed how much easier the weekend excursions will be. Way to go to work through your discomfort and make it to the top though! emoticon
    3902 days ago
    What a wonderful blog and something that I, and I'm sure many others, can relate to. I was always a cancel-er too, for many of the same reasons that you listed. Going places was a constant worry...how far will we have to walk? what if there's no place to sit when I'm tired of standing? what if I don't *fit* somewhere? what if, what if, what if. I am just so happy for you that you decided to do it despite all of the difficulty that you experienced. How wonderful that your people were so patient and understanding. Please keep at it. It will get better and better, I promise!
    3903 days ago
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