Well, it's getting down to nitty-gritty time, and I'm feeling WAY behind in my training. Only ten-and-a-half weeks until we do the Tanner and Beamer trail on the south rim of the Grand Canyon. The Tanner trail looks to be quite tough. Then we also have a permit to do a couple of days on the Nankoweap from the northern rim, billed as the most challenging hike in the Canyon. Bob Ribokas suggests that one be at peace with one's maker, "in case hiking the Nankoweap means that you meet he or she sooner than you may have expected." Yikes!!! So, not only physically challenging, but I figure I'll be scared out of my mind too! Why am I doing this exactly??? Gotta say sometimes I wonder! I must be completely crazy!
I have always wanted to see the Grand Canyon - it is on my list of things to do before I die, so I am simply thrilled that that dream will happen this fall. (Hopefully the dying thing will happen many years AFTER experiencing the Grand Canyon - my dream is not to die WHILE seeing it!) And to be able to immerse myself in that ecosystem for more than a week will be wonderful - IF I can keep the fear thing down to a manageable level. I am SO looking forward to it. But, I better be ready to carry a 50lb pack downhill for about 8 to 10 hours in a row, as that is what will be required that first day! I'm pretty good on uphills - yeah, my heart rate goes up and I feel my backside working, but it really is no problem. I'm not so great at the downhills. After a while, the good-ol' knees start to buckle, and my quads turn to jelly.
I was doing really well with my weight training in the fall, and was making great progress. Then the holiday season happened, followed by an accident in the family in January, and well, the training program fell by the wayside. Now things are back to normal, and I spend my Sundays hiking. I must get the bones, tendons and ligaments used to carrying heavy load for hours at a time.
Thankfully there is no shortage of beautiful hiking trails here in the Pacific Southwest of British Columbia. I do love walking through the rainforests of red cedar and hemlock, eating the huckleberries and salmon berries before the bears get them, (hope I don't run into a bear!) admiring the moss-covered logs and rocks and marveling at how it is possible that a tree can grow out of a rock. Last Sunday we saw a grouse and her 3 chicks! And there are plenty of mountains to climb (and descend) with beautiful views over Indian Arm or Howe Sound, or even overlooking the City of Vancouver and environs. And en route to Whistler/Blackcomb Mountain are hundreds of other stunning trails that lead up to glacial lakes and alpine meadows. I am indeed blessed.
The challenge for me is to try and walk in nature and not through nature, when right now it is all about the hours on the trail, and the amount of weight in the pack to make sure I get a training effect. I also find that I don't feel like doing a 6 to 8 hour hike every weekend. Somehow this "training for the Grand Canyon hike" has turned into a job. I must get out there every chance I get. Last weekend we did a 6 hour hike, of which we did probably 2 hours steep climb, and 2 hours steep decent. My quads were sore, and I did not have a whole lot of weight in the pack. Just goes to show me how far I need to go! So, I guess tonight I'll head off to the gym and do some deep squats, balance lunges, some 1 leg squats on a bosu, and maybe when I'm done that I'll finish off my quads on the leg extension machine.