Thursday, October 31, 2013

Hiking the Lists #8: Munising Falls

Hike: #8
Title: Munising Falls
Location: Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore
Hike List: UP Michigan
Difficulty: Mostly Easy (Save for one walk up stairs)
Duration of Hike: A short walk to a beautiful waterfall

The cliffs of Pictured Rock offer many scenic sites. The most famous and picturesque are the multicolored rock faces and formations along the shoreline. These sites, viewed primarily by getting on a boat and viewing them from the water, give the place its name. However, there are also many waterfalls of varying size and ease of access. Probably the easiest of the park's waterfalls to visit is Munising Falls. The easy walk to view the waterfall doesn't make it any less beautiful.

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Hiking Training Plan: Week #19 Recap

Week: October 22 - 28
Miles Hiked (Week): 13.48
Miles Hiked (October): 30.03
Miles Hiked, (October Goal): 30
Miles Hiked (Yearly Total): 100.96
Pounds Lost (Week): 0.6
Pounds Lost (Total):  19.0
Weekly Goal Met: No
Nights Camped (Week): 0
Nights Camped (Total): 8
Nights Camped (Backpacking): 1

It took a mostly unprecedented weekend of hiking, but I hit my fourth straight monthly hiking goal, with three hundredths of a mile to spare. It helped that most of the trails I hiked where fairly level with good footing, although a couple were on horse and mountain bike trails, and a short portion was an unintentional bushwhacking session over a woods covered ridge at Rock Cut State Park near Rockford. I guess I did also hike a bit through sand along Lake Michigan at Illinois Beach State Park, so that was a bit difficult, if flat, walking. By far this was the longest weekend of hiking I've had in three years, and is a good rehearsal for next summer, when I will need to average 15-20 miles a week to hit my monthly goals.

For now, the 30 miles in October was the high point, as we head on towards winter. November will only have 20 miles as the goal, and December and January will only have 10 miles as their goals. After a trip to the Smokies and North Georgia in about a week, I'll be taking it easy on the hiking front.

As such, it will become even more important for me to get back on track with the non-hiking exercise and nutrition. I lost weight this week, but at a minuscule rate, especially considering my heavy hiking on the weekend. I actually took the effort to buy some groceries this week, so hopefully it will go better.

I've decided to switch the weekly weigh-in (and thus the period covered by the recap) from Monday to Tuesday. The reason is mainly because of Tuesday has pretty much been the regular day I've done it the past few weeks, and will be required in week 21 as well. It's not a big change, but I figured I'd let everybody know.

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Hiking Training Plan: Week #18

Week: October 15 - 21
Miles Hiked (Week): 7.75
Miles Hiked (October): 16.55
Miles Hiked, (October Goal): 30
Miles Hiked (Yearly Total): 87.48
Pounds Gained (Week): 1.4
Pounds Lost (Total):  18.4
Weekly Goal Met: No
Nights Camped (Week): 0
Nights Camped (Total): 8
Nights Camped (Backpacking): 1

So it appears that I've hit a plateau that I can't quite get off of, at least in regards to the fitness portion of the plan. It didn't help this past week that I was involved in code releases for my job two of the nights, which certainly threw me off schedule. Also, I still am having issues with figuring out how to keep things together on the weekend. It certainly wasn't as bad as it has been some weeks, but it can definitely be better.

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Gear Review: REI Half Dome 2 Plus Tent

I'm a big person who likes to hike and camp. Quite frankly, that makes it a bit of a challenge to find gear that works for me. There are very few sleeping bags for tall people that are also small enough to take on a hike. I only have a small selection of shoes to choose from, as most boots only go up to around 12 or maybe 13. And until I lose some weight I can forget about finding certain hiking clothing that will fit me*. And of course, one of the biggest problems is finding a shelter that works.

Hiking Training Plan: Week #17 Recap

Week: October 8 - 14 (7 Days)
Miles Hiked (Week): 6.97
Miles Hiked (October): 8.80
Miles Hiked, (October Goal): 30
Miles Hiked (Yearly Total): 79.73
Pounds Lost (Week): 2.6
Pounds Lost (Total):  19.8
Weekly Goal Met: No
Nights Camped (Week): 1
Nights Camped (Total): 8
Nights Camped (Backpacking): 1

This week was a big week for my hiking training plan. Not because of the mileage, which wasn't enough to keep up pace for the monthly goal. It also wasn't because of the weight I lost, which was welcome after last week's setback, even if I didn't reach my perhaps overambitious goal. No, it was a big week because for the first time in over fourteen years I camped only with what I could carry on my back.

Granted, this backpacking trip wasn't exactly a backcountry climb into the mountains. It was a 1.6 mile hike over mostly flat ground at Newport State Park in Door County, Wisconsin. Still, the campsites were fairly primitive, and very private, with only the sounds of the wind and the waves from Lake Michigan. It was definitely a backcountry experience, even if the you really weren't that far from civilization.

As I said above, I didn't get as much hiking as I would have liked in during the weekend. On Saturday, I spent much of the time driving to the state park, getting there in the late afternoon as it was raining. Because of a lack of experience with the heavy pack, and being extra cautious because of the wet rocks and roots on the trail because of the rain, it was almost dark by the time I reached the camp site, so I only got the 1.6 miles in that day. The next day I had intended to do more, but the 1.9 miles I walked back*, plus the .6 mile walk through sand at the Newport State Park beach and the 2.86 mile hike through a boreal forest took its toll (and time). I had intended to walk part of the Ice Age Trail near its eastern terminus, but I didn't get to Potawatomi State Park until late in the afternoon. I did get a picture of the terminus marker, and walked up a 75' observation tower. to get a beautiful view of Green Bay, Sturgeon Bay, and southern Door County. Unfortunately, the walk up and down the tower stairs was not enough to count as a hike.

All in all, it was a pretty good week. I'm hoping to get some miles in this weekend, and am hoping this week will be even better, even if it won't match the backpacking experience of this past week.

*I took a different route that extended the hike back to my car by about a third of a mile.

Friday, October 11, 2013

America's Best Idea Shut Down

By now, I'm sure many of you are sick and tired of hearing about the Government shut-down (and being sick and tired of the shut-down itself is an understatement). With many "non-critical" parts of federal government being furloughed, a lot of Americans are wondering what this means for our country now and in the long run. I'm not going to get into political speculation here; no, this blog post is instead about a major part of our government and our identity as a nation that too has been labeled as non-essential - the National Parks.

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Hiking the Lists #7: Mirror Lake State Park Northwest Loop Trail

Hike: #7
Title: Northwest Loop Trail
Location: Mirror Lake State Park
Hike List: Wisconsin
Difficulty: Easy to Moderate (Hot weather makes it mostly moderate)
Duration of Hike: An hour or two of mostly pointless up and downs
First completed: 08/25/2013

Judged solely by the difficulty of the trail, the Northwest Loop at Mirror Lake is not too bad. There are some steep uphill and downhill climbs, but they are very short. In fact, the two steepest inclines (which are still fairly short hills) can be skipped by taking easy shortcuts. This trail only approaches a moderate difficulty because there are so many ups and downs.

However, the day I actually hiked the trail was one of the hottest of the year, which certainly added to the difficulty of the trail..I never reached the point of heat exhaustion, as I drank water every 10-15 minutes or so, but I ended up covered in sweat. Much of the trail is in the shade, so it wasn't as bad as the prairie portion, although it was still warm.

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Hiking Training Plan: Week 16 Recap

Week: September 30 - October 7 (8 Days)
Miles Hiked (Week): 1.83
Miles Hiked (October): 1.83
Miles Hiked, (October Goal): 30
Miles Hiked (Yearly Total): 70.93
Pounds Gained (Week): 4.8
Pounds Lost (Total):  17.2
Weekly Goal Met: No
Nights Camped (Week): 0
Nights Camped (Total): 7
Nights Camped (Backpacking): 0

I think there might be something wrong with my scale. Seriously, it fluctuates in a way that just seems suspect. I don't know if I'm stepping on different, which might cause variation, or not.