Take a Hike!

I’d hike all the time if I could, I think. Maybe it’s good that isn’t possible.

So, today I got up and had some feedback from my friend Jeff in regards to what shoes I should wear today. His line of thought was that I should give them new ones another chance as there is a break in period. So, I put the custom insoles in there and off I went to the trailhead.

We’d had a lot of rain yesterday and overnight so the sky was very pretty with clouds and the temperature was, honestly, on the chilly side. I actually found myself wishing I’d brought a hoodie. But once we started on the trail that quickly went away. But the temperature stayed really nice and this group is going to start taking longer and longer hikes on Saturdays. And on this hike we decided we were going to build up to hiking up to the summit! Yay!

So, this hike was one I’d been on before and it’s pretty. All of them are pretty, really. But now the Granite Mountain trail has set the bar too high, really. But with all of the rain we’ve had the desert is just so green and looks really pretty. One section of this hike actually looked like a meadow!

A lovely meadow. In the desert.

A lovely meadow. In the desert.

So, I guess since this blog was designed to track my progress I should get back to talking about how I did on the hike, huh? Not just how nice the trail was, etc. But, I kinda think that speaks about how I’m doing.

I keep a good pace, I don’t get super winded any more, but we’ve not been doing lots of inclines, either. The pack on my back feels lighter each week but I swear I put more stuff in it each time. My ankles feel strong. My legs aren’t tired. The only issue has been my feet and my right hip sometimes starts to feel tired. So all of my gymming is just really making me stronger and I’m sure that all of the hiking I’m doing is, too.

Based on the past two days, I think I’m going to retire my original boots. And I don’t know if this is silly or not but I kinda don’t want to take them back. No, I am not made of money and yes, I could use the money back in my pocket that they’d give me for the return of these boots. But I’m feeling a sentimental tie to these boots for some reason. So they stay here for now.

They seem important to me for some reason. So they must be.

They seem important to me for some reason. So they must be.

But the new ones have not give me blisters and I’ve not covered my heels in tape, blister block bandages, or moleskin. Just the new boots, the sock liner, and the thicker socks. No blisters. And today with the custom insole my feet felt a wee bit better. I’m going to take the boots and my feet to Road Runner Sports to see if they have any that are a wee bit more cushiony while also being supportive. I think the new ones aren’t as cushy as the old ones. But right now I understand that no blisters is far more important than cushy.

So now, these are my new friends on the trails:

Blister free zone!

Blister free zone!

Next Saturday I have a nine mile hike with an entirely new group in an entirely new area. I’ve not been able to talk to anyone with experience on this trail but I’m gonna not cancel, I’m going to trust that I have this!

And then on Sunday I cannot hike because I have to use the rest of the ballet gym package I’ve already paid for. The only class that appeals to me and that I enjoy and is also beneficial to me is the Stretch and Tone class and the only one I can make it to is the 11:30am one on Sundays. And yes, I could hike and THEN go to that class but that kinda seems like I’d be rushing and I hate to rush. So much. So, I’ll wrap up this package so I don’t waste my money and then I get back to hiking all of the weekends! Woo!

I’m also considering taking Gladys on some short hikes towards the end of the year. She’ll be one in a month and I can start taking her for longer walks. Damn near every dog I see on the trails is a big dog:

Big dog!

Big dog!

But my sister and her husband took their Cairn Terrier, Howie, hiking and he loved it. So, I’ll give it a go with my wee girl and show people that little dogs are hikers, too.

I also think it’s time for me to get some cargo pants to hike in. Me hiking in my yoga pants is increasingly looking jakey. And dorky. The yoga pants need to be for the gym. They look dorky there, too, though. Because they are now baggy. BOOM! I need smaller yoga pants.

Life could be worse, yeah?

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Storms

This past Thursday there was some big ASU game and my trainer texted me as I was on my way to our session to ask if I’d be ok cancelling. He thought his carpool was going later but they were not and I let him off the hook because I am very nice and understanding. And humble and modest.

That means no gym update for Thursday.

Today I woke up for my hike but there was lightning all around and it was humid as all hell. But I checked the meetup group and they were still planning on going so I got myself ready and hit the road.

The entire drive there was gorgeous! It was still dark and the lightning was lighting up the sky in just a most spectacular fashion. And I saw some really well defined bolts here and there, too. Which also meant that I was very much like “we are NOT going to hike, this is dumb, why am I still driving?!??!!”

But keep driving I did. All the way to the trailhead. And others showed up. And the temperature had dropped significantly and I was actually cold. And we watched the lightning to the East of us. And then we watched it as it got further and further away. And then the fog rolled in.

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Then? Off we went on our hike! And it turned out to be a gorgeous hike with gorgeous sunrise and clouds. And the temperature was perfect. I really enjoyed it.

However…I wore my new hiking boots, sock liners, and socks. And by the end of the hike my heels were NOT blistered. But, my feet were so damn tired and that normally doesn’t happen. Like, once I took off my shoes and walked in my flip flops I was hobbling around because my feet were that sore. I felt hot spots, I guess is what you’d call it, in different areas that I don’t usually have them in. And the two toes that have been feeling numb (for lack of a better descriptor) since last weekend really hurt on this hike and for a bit after. Right now, sitting here, they feel fine.

I have put together photos to show you my feet. Do not judge them. I have not gotten a pedicure in some time because I do not see the need as I am hiking every weekend. The end.

This is the left heel where I keep getting the blister. It is not blistered after today's hike and I did NOT wear a bandage over it. Just the sock liner and the sock. It's just all hard, dry, almost callusy skin that looks gnarly. But not blistered. That's the positive.

This is the left heel where I keep getting the blister. It is not blistered after today’s hike and I did NOT wear a bandage over it. Just the sock liner and the sock. It’s just all hard, dry, almost callusy skin that looks gnarly. But not blistered. That’s the positive.

This is the area on the left foot that just felt like it could become a blister but isn't. It's never been sore wearing my other boots. That same area on the right was sore but not as sore as the left. I think.

This is the area on the left foot that just felt like it could become a blister but isn’t. It’s never been sore wearing my other boots. That same area on the right was sore but not as sore as the left. I think.

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These are the toes that have felt dead/numb/pinched nerve-ish all week.

SO! I’ve talked to my sister and her husband. He hikes the Appalachian trail and she has had jobs that keep her on her feet a lot in the past. My Mom called. My Dad had nothing.

This is what I am trying to decide for my hike tomorrow:

1. Right now I have my custom made insoles in my old hiking boots. My thinking is that these boots have only given me heel blisters, the rest of my feet were happy. Until I took a 9 mile hike. So maybe the insole that came in the boot is just not compatible with my feet. So, custom made. My plan is to wear these boots with the custom insoles, the sock liner, and the socks.

2. The new hiking boots did not give me blisters, they just made my feet super tired. Should I instead put the insoles in them and wear them with the sock liners and socks tomorrow to give them another go?

I never knew that trying to figure out boots would be such a headache for me. Other people are all “I just bought boots and off I went and never had a blister!” And to those people I give a silent “la dee dah.” Because I’m mature and irritated. ha!

Today’s hike was just over 5 miles and we did it in 2 hours. We do stop a few times here and there and we always stop to take a group photo. So it’s not just straight hiking. But I love it. I still love it and I want to do it all the time. My feet just need to get on board  with this.

Quickie

For some reason this week I am just worn out by the time 8pm hits. And now, it’s not for some reason, I have PMS and I just realized that is the answer to most of my woe. Like…I have been feeling like I could just jump right out of my skin. I cannot get comfortable no matter what and all of my nerve endings feel like they’ve moved right to the surface and things touching me suck. So, yeah. PMS. FUN!

So here’s a quick recap of gym last night:

Assisted pull ups 3 10 140×10 140×10 140×10
Vertical chest press 3 10 70×10 70×8 66.6×5 60×5
T bar row (paramount) 3 10 10 10 10
Back extensions 3 12 12 15 15
Premade bar bicep curls 3 10 30×10 30×10 30×10
3 way shoulders 3 10 2.5×10 2.5×10 2.5×10
Decline sit ups hold X

Here is where I go right ahead and say that I am pleased with the vertical chest press. That’s a jump up in weight! And also the bicep curls with the 30lb bar? That’s a jump up, too. And it was hard and stuff but I pushed through, dammit. Woo!

Some side notes:

Tyler did a triathalon, his first, on Sunday and I asked him how he did. Of course he did fantastic but because he is a person who is also a dude who is also a personal trainer by trade he was trying to be hard on himself and I was giving the pep talk and then he was all “But this is my job! I should have done better!” and then I paused and said “You know what? You’re right. This is unacceptable. I need a new trainer.” And laughs were had and then he informed me that the other event that was a smaller group and he and his girlfriend were a team? They came in first and second and then I had to tell him to let that other negative crap go. The end.

Also? The music was all over the place. So I mentioned it and he explained that depending on who is at the front desk the music will either stick to one station or they’ll all be up there fighting over it and that’s what happened on Tuesday. You’d get some Ariana Grande, that damn Iggy Azalea, then Miley Cyrus and then blamo! The Breeders and Alice In Chains. I got down to the Breeders. I won’t lie. But one of the other trainers came over to Tyler and was all “This music is very much a hot mess tonight.” The gym. It has music drama, y’all.

Also at the gym? I got my first female person giving me the up and down look of disapproval. I’m very sorry my Sesame Street t-shirt and now too big yoga pants were unacceptable. Except no, no I’m not.

Then today after work I went to REI with my current hiking shoes and socks to discuss the numbness in my toes and the damned blisters. And after we discussed it and I mentioned the numbness they said “Yeah. These are just not the shoes for you.”

So, I used money that I don’t have and bought new hiking shoes that feel pretty darn good. They’ll get tested out on Saturday when I go on a nice five mile hike.

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For something I am enjoying so much I sure am having a hard time getting shit to just work right. Ugh. And I won’t lie. The still numb feeling toes has me a wee bit concerned.

And that’s it. I’m tired. Good night!

A walk in the desert

I went on my 9 mile hike yesterday! And it was gorgeous. I forgot that it was in Tonto National Forest, which is just one of my favorite things in Arizona thus far. Except maybe the Grand Canyon. But I get to see Tonto National Park way more often. And it houses, like, a forest of saguaro and I love driving through it and so getting to hike through it was going to be nothing short of spectacular, I felt. And I was not wrong.

I started the morning by duct taping my feet. I rushed. I didn’t put on enough. And next time I will certainly take the time and do it right.

Sunset at the trailhead.

Sunrise at the trailhead.

This was a new group that I was going to be hiking with. Once a few people started to gather in a group I went on over and introduced myself and made sure they were the Meetup group and not some other type of group. I’m finding that it’s easier and easier for me to just talk to people when I want or need to. That’s pretty good.

Then off we went on the journey. I quickly, or slowly, made my way to the back of the line because that is where I want to be. I want to stop and take photos. I want to enjoy the scenery. I want to hang back even further if I just want to be quiet in the desert. But, what I quickly figured out was that this group did not have a sweeper!

A sweeper is the person that hikes at the very end to ensure that nobody is left behind. And since this hike was on a series of trails that intersect, a sweeper would have been helpful. But, alas, they did not have one. And that is fine. Even though at the end me and three other people were, in fact, separated from the group. Luckily we were close enough to the end and we knew the trailhead name. But, yeah. That could have been a bad end to the day. But, instead, I’m focusing on how I did and how beautiful it is. Which is why I got the negative out of the way first!

Granite Mountain-2

Granite Mountain-4

So, I’m in the back walking with another nice older man named Andrew. So we laughed that we were Andrea and Andrew and he started asking lots of questions. I stopped a lot to take photos because look at it. Just look at those photos up there! They are gorgeous!

Then the group stops and is all gathered around because we’ve stumbled across a desert tortoise! Most people had not seen one on a hike before so it was all very exciting. We left him alone, other than putting our cameras in his face. And then warned all trail bikers we encountered that he was in the trail and to not run him over.

Granite Mountain-3

I could feel that the duct tape had slipped. But this group was no damn joke, y’all. We did three miles in one hour. No stopping, no lagging. Except for me because photos. But, still. Three miles on a hike in three hours is a good pace. We stopped for our first break at about five miles in. And I checked my feet and saw that, yes, my duct tape had slipped so I tried to fix it and that was that. And? I didn’t sit down a lot. I wanted to keep my body upright and not chance getting comfy or stiff.

Cathedral Rock. Break locale number 1.

Cathedral Rock. Break locale number 1.

Then off we went into what the leader said would be the prettiest part of the hike. And I was all “There is not way! I’ve already been blown away by how pretty it all is!!”

But, guess what? It was even prettier. There was so much pretty that it just seemed fake. Like it was all a movie set for a Hollywood Western themed film. That’s how pretty and amazing it was. And since we’ve had so much rain the desert was simply alive with green and yellow flowers and it was just amazing.

The trail was mostly like this. Nice, rolling hills. It was just long.

The trail was mostly like this. Nice, rolling hills. It was just long.

Our second break was at Balanced Rock. I didn’t get any good photos of that. I’ll have to go back!

At this break I did sit down and thought about how I felt. We were around 7 miles in at this point. And other than the hot spots I could feel on my feet? I was feeling ok. My hips were maybe feeling a little tired but my legs and my back and everything else were solid. And that is good to know!

Then, I guess, the temperature raised a bit and I got hot. Which is great training since the canyon will get hot. And I didn’t die. I didn’t hate it.

I drank 2.5 liters of the 3 that I have in my bag on this hike. And I think I need to buy some of those electrolyte gummy snacks to have on hand to replenish my salt and stuff while I sweat. Because I sweat like a pig. I had visible crotch sweat. There’s no guessing there, I looked. The crotch, it was sweaty. But the dudes all had visibly sweaty asses so I feel fine about life.

Until I got into my car to drive home. I kept smelling something terrible. And then I finally realized…it was ME! So sad.

BUT! Look how happy I looked on this hike. Even with sweaty crotch:

My crotch is sweaty and I don't care!

My crotch is sweaty and I don’t care!

When I got home I devoured a cheeseburger as if I’d never had food before. Then I showered the shower of the smelly. I may have even moaned “OH, YEAAAAAAAAAAAAAH!” when the water hit my body.

I felt rough. Tired. And sore. But then when I started moving around I realized that the soreness had more to do with the muscles I used during Thursday’s training. I did a lot of ab work that night and my abs were screaming. Which, yes, hiking works them, too.

My feet felt weird all day, too. Like, I expected blisters on my toes but there are none.

But, when I woke up this morning? I felt fine. The blisters suck, but I’m all good. I didn’t go hike today, though. I just figured with the blisters I should give it a rest.

I’m going to REI tomorrow with my boots and blisters to talk to some people about things. Because I really need to get this shit under control.

And that is the story of my very first nine mile hike. Yay!

Muggy, Sticky, Whiny

It’s been humid as all hell this week and I’ve been totally whiny and horrible about it. I hate the humidity and I always have. I didn’t deal with it well when I lived in it full time so I definitely don’t deal with it well now that I’m all acclimated to the desert. No thank you, humidity. I’m all good.

So, I didn’t get to make my Tuesday session with Tyler because a virus was unleashed on the network so I had to deal with that. So, no gym.

I’ve been walking my wee girl each evening but even she doesn’t like the humidity. She is truly a desert dog. She’s really kinda funny to watch. She wants to go and she’s all gung ho at first, like we all are. But then the humidity takes hold and you can see the heaviness hit her and she gets slower and slower until she’s actually stopping to be all “ugh. This is the worst.” And I agree. I agree, Gladys. Humidity is totally the worst.

So, cut to Thursday at the gym and I act like a child. I’m gonna apologize to Tyler.

This was just not a good week, anyway. You know how you feel like you have shit under control and you have maybe just a wee little baby flame hidden away but then you learn that, no, you have a torch and hope and you keep that torch alive with the light of your hope?! No? Well, I do. It’s not good.

So, I went to the gym Thursday prepared to work it all out. But, instead, humidity sucked my will to live and Tyler decided it was a good time to really push me to do something that I felt I was not capable of doing!

First he has me do dumbbell floor presses with a leg kick out. This used to be hard for me. Now? I was able to kick out lower to the floor and press the dumbbells straight up and I kinda love this. Anytime I’m pushing weight up like that I feel really good and happy and pleased. This was three sets of 15 with 15lbs dumbbells.

Then? He takes me over to the turf field with 8 lb dumbbells and sliders to put under my feet. First? He wanted me to put my feet on the sliders and then just walk myself down the field without using my legs, they are dead weight.

Oh, I forgot to mention that on Thursday my arms just felt really heavy and horrible. Tyler, fortunately, is used to my weird complaints.

So, he knows my arms feel heavy but he wants me to use solely them and pretend my legs are dead. I complained. I scoffed. But then I tried. I gave it the good, honest, college try. And it was working and I was moving, slowly, down the field. But good lord that hurt my lower back.

So, then he changed it to where he wanted me to walk forward with my arms holding on to the dumbbells then pull my knees up to my chest, then walk forward with my arms and the dumbbells, then pull my knees up to my chest, rinse, repeat until I made it to the traffic cone.

Once I made it to the traffic cone? I had to mountain climbers. Then I had to stand up and do jump squats.

Then? Back down on the ground to walk my way back to the beginning with dumbbells as hands. I’m related to that Scissorhands kid now.

He only made me do that routine twice. But that’s, you know, there and back again. 15 yards each way, maybe?

I whined. I stopped. My knee hurt. My whole body was tense. I made eye contact with other people that were doing things and we all looked miserable together.

Then I had to balance on the bosu ball and hold an 8lb dumbbell behind my head and do 15 crunches. Three sets.

Then hold that dumbell straight up in the air with one hand, cross one leg over the other, then crunch. Repeat on the other side. 3 sets of each, 15 reps.

Then we finished it all up with me having to do the V sit hold. Which I’ve done before and was awesome at. This time? I was all wiggly and then I got giggly and really it was all absurd. He had to keep stopping his watch and saying “What happened that time?!?!” and then he tried to tell me to just not be wiggly. That guy.

Even though I was all muggy and sticky and told him that I had the desire to stab people in the face and that’s why I don’t carry a knife, I did laugh a lot. Over my antics. Over my wiggly. Over the eye contact with other miserable people. It was, actually, a good time.

And that whole dragging myself down the turf field with dumbbells as hands shenanigans? I’m pretty pleased I was able to do that.

Because of the crap and the ugh, I posted pictures on Facebook and literally told people to just tell me how good I look. I didn’t even pretend. Just “Here’s me right now. Tell me I look nice.”

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And people did. Because I know nice people.

Tomorrow I am going on a NINE MILE HIKE! I hope it’s not humid. It’s with a new group. So, I hope they are nice. Otherwise this could be a shitstorm of suck. I have the right attitude, right? Yes.

I am also going to duct tape my heel to ensure it doesn’t blister. Let’s see how that goes!

I will beat this!

I went to REI after work and bought new hiking socks and blister prevention and treatment. I have to have good feet by Saturday!!

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I walked around in the new socks then in the old socks. Now that I’ve focused on my feet it does feel like the left heel is going up and down in the shoe. But then once I had on my gym shoes it felt that way, too!

My hope is that the blister heals by Saturday and then I’ll cover the heel with moleskin and that will prevent a new one.

And that is the blister update. You’re welcome.

Walking and Sweating

I started each day this weekend hiking at the crack of dawn. One day, today, I was actually at the trailhead before the crack of dawn! More on that in a moment.

Yesterday’s hike started at 6am, which meant I was up at 4:30 and on the road by 5. There was lots of roadwork and part of my drive was closed so I had to detour which put me there right one time. But I had to pee. So I told the sweep (the person that walks at the back to ensure nobody gets left behind) that I’d catch up. She knows me now and was ok with that. And I did catch up! Even though I stopped to take photos of pokey things along the way.

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Looks fuzzy, feels like barbed fire. Or so I’ve heard. 

I'm closing in!

I’m closing in!

This hike was about 3ish miles and we finished it up in about 90 minutes. It was a nice pace with a nice rolling trail. And, again, I just really like this group. They’re good people.

I never knew that I'd be this happy being this sweaty.

I never knew that I’d be this happy being this sweaty.

Nice people!

Nice people!

Behold! The desert!

Behold! The desert!

Today’s hike started at 5am so I had to be on the road by 4am which meant I had to be out of bed by 3:30am!! I must really, really like this hiking thing, y’all.

So, we started before the Sun was up in the sky. We could see all of the stars and it looked so amazing and peaceful. I was not at all nervous to hike in the dark with my headlamp for the first time, just curious as to how it would be. It turns out that I really enjoyed hiking in the dark. The only con is that you cannot see the beauty of the desert and I do love that. But we had the beauty of the stars and then as the light of the Sun started peeking out and then spreading into the sky and over the desert, I was just in awe. So grand.

Morning light.

Morning light.

But as I hiked in the dark with just the light of my headlamp I was able to just walk along casually. No worries about rocks or declines or inclines or anything of that sort. I just simply walked and it was awesome. I impressed myself, really. And then that casualness carried over once the sky was light. I’m getting more confident in my legs, ankles, and balance! Yay!

This hike was a wee bit over 5 miles and it took almost 2 and half hours, which isn’t bad at all.

We had a really good group of people and I got to talk to another person who’s hiked the canyon. He gave me his opinions and advice and I’m filing it away with all of the rest. I love talking to people that are able to see how I hike and how I get winded on inclines who still tell me that I am so totally ready to hike the canyon. It’s all good stuff.

As is the desert.

Early morning!

Early morning!

I wound up with blisters again in the same places so I’m going to have to figure out how to prevent that. Ugh.

Next weekend I’m doing my first 9 mile hike! One of the girls from this morning is going to do it, too, so that’s nice. It’s a different group that I’ve been hiking with so it will be nice to have a familiar face there.

I love hiking. It’s official. Even though I’m up early and all sweaty when it’s over and I want to eat all of the things once I get home. Hiking is peaceful and puts me out in the natural world and I just love it. I had no idea. I used to scoff.

I shall scoff no more.