Monday, August 13, 2007

A Personal Hiking Experience

If only I could show you pictures, you too would laugh. I spent the weekend at my buddy Gabe's camp in the Ozark National Forest. It is a beautiful setting in the Boston Mountains with a small cabin and two nice spring-fed creeks (seasonally fed anyway). To the physical setting you add a group of guys, ATV's, a couple of tractors, a keg of beer, and camp chairs for perching in the few pools of cold water that have endured the August heat. It goes something like this...we strap the keg on the back of an ATV, load up a 10lb suckling pig, 6 bags of charcoal, a box of crab legs and head to the chest deep pool of ice cold water to marinate and bond.

Now marinating and bonding are a ritual at the camp but this time, fueled by the addition of a full size keg (and 20 bags of ice) there is very interesting conversation. Mostly degrading each other with stories of bonding rituals past and trying hard to decide how best to cook the pig. Good thing we brought back up burgers!

Well into the aforementioned ritual bonding, I decided to expend some of my energy and hike downstream for a distance with as much pace as I could muster. Then I would turn around, hiking a different route back to the keg, recharge, then head upstream with the same intent. It started great, pace was good, handy walking stick useful, simple route with minimal was actually exhilarating. I turned, wandered back through the opposite side of the creek bed with slightly more obstacles and managed to keep the same pace. I had two nasty little spills, both times glad that no one could see the graceful slide on algae coated slate or the rotting tree trunk give handy walking stick was the only casualty, splintered by the force of my body sliding into the pool below a small waterfall.

Once back to the base camp, I recharged, caught my breath (which took longer than a minute) and headed upstream. At first, the pace was on track with the first two legs...I have to admit it was pretty fast for me and my hefty stance. But at the end, I was spent. No more. My tech amphibians were full of rocks, my heart was beating out of my chest, my handy stick was lost...but something funny actually happened. I found a sort of high that I have never experienced. Perhaps it was the flood of endorphins, but I really enjoyed beating the hell out of myself on those rocks. So today, after a day of recuperation and soreness (ok, two days) I find myself anxiously awaiting the next time. I have a new goal. I want to push myself into a new phase of physical activity. It is now my goal to run the rocky trail from the camp up the mountain to the gate...I think it is slightly over a mile, but uphill most of the way with an elevation change of about 400'. Any bets on whether I can do it? Perhaps by publicly stating my intention, the motivation will not wain. And if so, I will always have the memory of finding my new endorphin high to motivate me! Wish me luck.

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