Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Practice Hike #1: Mount Pleasant, VA

Already falling behind in my posts!  Here's a summary from our first practice hike a week ago...

The Mount Pleasant trail was an amazing way to kick-off our team hikes!  We were rewarded by amazing views from the 4,012-foot summit-- and by the stories told by our fellow hikers.

We hit the trail with a mother of a 24-year old CF patient and her best friend, a father of a 4-year old with CF, a sister of a 24-year old CF patient, a mother motivated by her friend's daughter who has CF, and our trail guide (Corey) from Blue Ridge Mountain Sports who's been inspired to donate his time to nonprofits because of his disabled mother.  We're all motivated-- inspired-- enthusiastic-- but none of us (with the exception of our guide) are experienced hikers.  We have some huge challenges ahead, but it's going to be so rewarding to watch us grow, learn, and accomplish something as physically and mentally challenging as the Xtreme Hike.

The hike was a moderately-easy six-miles that included some amazing views from the top of Mount Pleasant.  The weather was absolutely perfect for a summer day-hike-- mid-70's, slightly overcast, and even a CHILLY breeze at the summit. 

The first couple of miles were a gradual ascent to a pair of overlooks.  The climb almost felt too easy, like I should have been working harder for the views.

We spent a half hour at the summit, eating lunch, taking pictures, and listening to our guide's search-and-rescue stories.  Speaking of our guide, I feel MUCH better about the hike knowing that he has experience on the trails as paramedic and search-and-rescue volunteer-- plus, he has a great sense of humor and stories that will make the hiking a little more entertaining.  And when I started to feel a hot spot in my boot, I kept thinking, "It could be worse...I could be the guide who's hiking with a 4th degree burn on his stomach that he got from laying out on the beach with Jack Daniels the day before the hike..."Poor dude looked rough.

Corey pointing out the sites

The second half of the loop was much different than the first.  The terrain was much steeper and uneven.  Walking downhill on a rocky slope put a lot of stress on my knees, but it would have been MUCH worse without hiking poles.  Now that I've used the poles, I can't imagine hiking again with them-- they provided an amazing amount of stability on the rougher parts of the trail.  

Since the Mt. Pleasant hike, we've been back on the hills at Deep Run Park (in Richmond) and walking the neighborhood.  The neighborhood walk has been a letdown since getting into the mountains...but it's the best we can do right now (unless we neglect the kids and work!).

This weekend, we'll be returning to the Blue Ridge to hike Dobie Mountain with the rest of our team.  Looking forward to another weekend on the trail!


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