Tag Archives: Hiking

FITGO at the YMCA

Did you see the Dennis the Menace cartoon yesterday?

It shows the mom doing yoga. The kids say

“I guess when you get too old to play… You have to exercise.”

Really? What is hiking, biking, canoeing or even yoga, but playing?

And to make it more fun, the Asheville YMCA came up with Fitgo.

The  YMCA Fitgo is a combination of Fitness and Bingo. You get a card with a five by five grid of challenges for a month. Some activities are simple, some take thought, and a couple I am just ignoring.

Fitgo card

Simple Goals – No fast food for three days and Drink no soda for three days. I checked that off the moment I got the card because I haven’t had either for decades.

Same with Eat fresh fruit with your breakfast and Stretch for 15 minutes.- I do those every day.

Goals that take some thoughts –  I didn’t want to count activities that I’ve done before I started Fitgo. So I waited until I did my next yoga class to count it as  group training class, no problem since I go to yoga once or twice a week.

Another goal was to Participate in an outdoor activity – yeah, like hiking.

Swannanoa River

As for volunteering for a service organization, I lead hikes for Carolina Mountain Club, Friends of the Smokies and other nonprofits who ask me.  So I counted my involvement in MST-in-a-Day.

Do an activity together with friends or family – another easy one since all my hiking companions are friends – no double counting was involved.

Since this is the YMCA, the goals also included introducing yourself to three Y members I didn’t know and letting a Y staff person know why you love the Y . I love the Y because it opens at 5 am on weekdays. It give me and lots of other people flexibility.

Now the tough ones. Drink water as your only fluid intake for one day. What? Give up tea? I interpreted this literally – not even herbal tea.

Get eight hours or more of sleep for three days – Are they kidding? I’d love to but if I can sleep more than six hours, it’s a red letter day.

No one can hike every day – certainly I don’t have my life planned to hike every day. So that’s where the YMCA comes in – with or without Fitgo.

Are You All Right?

Are you all right?

Sign to Muxia

I seem to hear this too often these days. People ask me if I’m all right when I step off a curb, stop to get a drink of water on the trail, or when I walk up and even down the steps.

Am I getting too sensitive? Are my antennas up too far?

About ten years ago or so, I was on a small plane landing in a small airport. The passengers needed to walk down the stairs because there wasn’t a jetway.

“Are you all right walking down the stairs?” the flight attendant asked. I was flabbergasted.

“Yes, Are you all right? I replied. She grunted and moved to the next passenger.

Is Are you all right? the new verbal tick? You know, like Good to go, You’re fine and Have a nice day.

I finally realize that this was not a one-off comment but a common phrase from mostly women about twenty years younger than me. Occasionally, I hear it from men of the same age group. But I’ve never heard anyone come up to an older man and ask if he was all right unless he was bleeding on the trail.

If I’m going to write about this, I need to be very specific. I googled the phrase to see if this was a frequent problem. The only helpful website was The Wrong Planet, for people with neurological differences.

One typical answer on this website was:
Why would someone ask you this? Is this a standard greeting? I’ve had a few times when people asked me this, like a weird greeting, but I’m not sure why. It’s unexpected (by me) and I usually respond by freezing, which I guess just makes whatever I was doing seem worse.

Many on this site felt that neurotypical people used the phrase instead of Hello.

At Emerald Bay SP

When I hiked with Family Nature Summits in the Lake Tahoe area, last month, the oldest women, other than me, were in their fifties. They were fit and slim, but not regular hikers.

Jon Krakauer, author of  Into Thin Air about the 1996 Mt. Everest climbing disaster, would call them treadmill fit. Great runners on even ground but if the trail has a few rocks, they would call the hike technical.

The clincher was on a long, steep uphill climbing out of Lake Tahoe to the parking area. The trail was hot and dusty. Halfway up, I stopped at a creek to wet my hat and bandanna. The water on my head felt delicious.

From behind, a woman from our group who had not yet talked to me the entire day, stopped and asked,

“Are you all right?”

“Are you all right? That’s the question. You’re the one behind me.”

Remember the bumper sticker usually on the back of VW Beetles?

I may be slow but I’m ahead of you.

I may not be ahead of you or in front of the group but I’m a plodder. Like a postage stamp, I stick with it until I get there.

Chris and Carroll

While I was thinking about writing about this not-so-new phenomenon, I learned that Carroll Koepplinger, the Ageless Hiker, was going back to Europe to do a long-distance hike in France next month.

He’s almost 87 years old.

Have fun Carroll. I know you’ll be all right.

Hiking Everywhere – Athens, OH

There’s hiking everywhere.

It can be glamorous and far away like Europe and New Zealand. You can hike in a national park like Great Smoky Mountains National Park. Or you can hike locally in Athens, OH.

Mystery mushrooms

Athens, the home of Ohio University, is a smaller version of Asheville and just as hippy-dippy.

Local food, local art, music and spirit but no national parks. Located in the northwestern end of Southern Appalachia, the town has rolling hills and an amazing greenway, more suited to biking than hiking.

But, there’s hiking right from town. My son, Neil, had designed a hike which started at Dow Lake in Strouds Run State Park and took us to Sells Park and back – a total over about 10.5 miles.

It was only 22 degrees when we started out by climbing on top of the Dow Lake dam. With no other information, I assume that the lake was created for recreational use – primarily boating and fishing. We walked along the long narrow lake and I had my doubts if my frozen fingers would ever work again.

In Stroud Run SP

But there was just enough altitude gain (not much) and I was so bundled up that after about an hour, the heat from my core spread out to my fingers. By then, it must have been in the low 30s.

Once we left the lakeside, we encountered artifacts of past homesteads. Daffodils are a dead give-away that people lived here. The flowers must have been freezing, like hikers.

No native spring flowers yet. But we did see red mystery  mushrooms. Though they look plastic, I assure you that they are real.

Once we got to Sells Park, it wasn’t long until we reached E. State St., the main shopping street and Cafe Sol, a Cuban and Caribbean restaurant. What a brilliant idea! No need to have our sandwiches outdoors in the freezing weather.

I had a Spanish omelet with potatoes, cheese and beans. It was wonderful. I could eat that every night in Spain.

And then we went back the same way. By the afternoon, mountain bikers and dog walkers had come out to enjoy the cold sunshine. An easy all-day hike which can be modified to try other intersecting trails. There’s hiking everywhere.

PS I finally looked up where daffodils are natives. They’re from Spain and Portugal. I wonder if I’ll see them on the Camino de Santiago.