Monday, September 7, 2009

Practice Hikes are Essential!!!

As you prepare for a major hike, it's important to keep your skill sets up. To do that I recommend weekly, if not daily practice hike. No, they don't have to be long, but it's training so you need to get your body ready for the high impact exertion and build endurance. I am lucky, I can get to prime hiking territory in 5 min. I have a set of small 1-2 hour practice hikes I take the dogs on. Some are nearly flat, others are strenuous climbs. I have found through the summer the "girls" (dogs, Bridie and Zamboni) don't like the heat. So in the summer its either very early or short hikes. If I go any distance in the Summer I cart in a lot of water. I have to let the girls drink something every 30 min or be near a stream. This morning I took a short 2 hour hike (up and back) to an area I call our overlook. It was a beautiful day, here is a picture of the Moon over Challenge hill at the Air Force Academy.We like this hike because few know of it. Today, I could see that someone had their horse on it sometime early in the morning as everything was fresh. That's fine, what I don't like are all the mountain bikes. Generally, I find mountain bikers disrespectful, they like to go full speed down hill and yell at you if you are on the trail--the same one that says hikers have the right away. They also tear up the environment. While I have seen hiking trails virtually disappear this year due to the rapid vegetation growth because of all the rain, biking trails scar the environment for years to come. Here is Bridie taking 5 (we call it Miller time--only no Miller just water) at the top. We like to have set points in our training hikes where we can make a certain lookout or geographical point within a certain amount of time. Part of the training is to time yourself to see how your doing. Sometimes I go lite with only water for me and the girls. If we want to make time we have to go lite and we don't stop for rest often. For some hikes we go heavy, I carry a full pack with gear I would not normally need, but I need to get used to the weight, balance and feel of a heavy pack. I always take a full load of water on heavy hikes. Last week I took a light load. Wanted to do a short hike--maybe 2 hours. The girls had a different idea in mind. It was a cooler day and they had not gone out for as much as a walk around the block in a few days. Zamboni was climbing the walls. She is a Husky and her bottle fills up slowly every day, the only way you can empty it is walk or run her. Bridie is more subtle, but equally as energetic. So off I go up Eagle mountain, just up to what I call the transition point. That is a point up below the Aspen Meadows. This is a point about 3/4 of the way up--about 45 min worth of hiking. I wanted to get there and sit in the meadow and relax. The girls would have none of it. Normally, I push them, this day they pushed me---all the way to the top. Since we are approaching fall every squirril in the forest was out stocking up on acorns. This little fellow was driving the girls and me nuts (ya that is a pun). So they push me to the top and I check the watch---1 hour. Not bad for a morning that I did not want to go more than a short hike. Here is thge geographic marker. Too bad some idiot thought it would be fun to scratch up. Once up there we always make it a point to relax. Take in the views, explore a little. Bridie is the smart one, she finds a cool spot in the shade and gets ready for the hike down. I always treat the girls to what ever dog treats I have and a good portion of water. This was a Friday, and we had a high in the region so it was a nice day. Only lots of smoke from the California fires, otherwise a perfect day. So here you can see Bridie in a prime spot taking five (miller time) with Pikes Peak in the background. What is amazing is how well this dog can climb. She seems to love it. She is always the first to the top and finds the best ways up. She seems to be built for this. Her paws are huge and she has claws that a bear would envy. Well, thats it for this week. We will have more adventures as we plan out a 25 mile or longer hike.......FUN!!

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