Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Elliptical Schmalliptical

Even though I'm not one of those hardcore outdoorsy people who has done everything from rock climbing and white water rafting, I've always loved the outdoors and try to spend my fair share of time in it. Living in PEI for the last 5 years was an experience I loved and even though the province is gorgeous, I always missed my majestic mountain backyard. In BC I never went to the gym or anything like that, but when my tuition at UPEI automatically included a gym pass for the campus gym, I took advantage of it since I was paying for it anyway so I'd might as well use it. Those years taught me about a love of personal fitness that I never had before and whenever I would come home to BC for visits, I'd be out looking for ways to stay active (since my gym membership was left back in PEI). The most natural connection that I made was to find hiking trails and start climbing some mountains!

Now I'm definitely no expert mountain climber or anything like that, but I do love to find trials I've never been on before and see where they lead me. There are hundreds of hiking trails all within short driving distance (and some walking) from the house, so over the years and visits home I would drag along whoever was willing to take up the challenge, pack up some water and the dogs in the car and off we went.

There is this one trail that I have done probably dozens of times. It's about a 10 minute walk from my sister's old house (the one that Chris and I lived in when we were both here a couple summers ago) and it's a fairly easy 4km walk up behind Miral Heights and up to the Flag Pole Lookout where you get a panoramic view of Trail. I once ran into a man who walks the trail frequently and he told me about a trail that keeps on going past the flag pole and goes all the way to Sunningdale. I was instantly intrigued but never really took the time to find where the trail began/continued and kind of just forgot about its existence. Then today I wanted to take Axel somewhere new for his afternoon walk and decided to go up to Miral Heights to do the flagpole loop. When we got to the lookout point I noticed there was trail just past where I was standing which headed towards Sunningdale. I'd never noticed it before but today there was a tiny bit of old snow on the ground which easily showed the worn down trail. I decided to follow it a little ways to see where it headed, and then the next thing I knew I was breathing hard and climbing along the edge of the mountain on a teeny tiny narrow trail, determined to see where this led to.

The trail was not tough but definitely dodgy in some spots and not wearing the right hiking boots would have been my demise. There was a fair bit of climbing but it was mostly downhill the whole way which not only fed my speed but made me go a lot farther than I should have. When you're in the zone, pushing away branches, jumping over fallen trees, searching for the trail markers and taking in the view, it's easy to get a bit carried away. The adrenaline is pumping and you're excited to see where you end up. When I got well past Sunningdale I found myself on this new trail that someone had carved out of the side of the mountain and it just kept going and going and going. I wanted to keep going to see where it ended but my internal clock was telling me that I should head back. Daylight was fading already (it's completely dark by 4:30) so I decided to turn back. I also figured that if I got eaten by a cougar or turned my ankle and fell down the mountain that no one would know to look for me there.

On the way back I found this amazing little grave-site for a family's dog which had recently been visited. Spencer's grave had a fresh little plastic flower plus a few miniature pumpkins. One of the pumpkins was written on saying something like, "You are such a good boy and we know that you are still with us every day." It was so sweet. About 10 minutes into my walk by I realized just how far I had actually gone and just how uphill the entire walk back was going to be. I also somehow lost the trail for about 20 minutes which was a little disheartening since it made me feel like a fool and I had to find a much more difficult way to get back up on it. Axel was happy to be bushwhacking but I was less than impressed with myself. But climbing up the sheer side of the mountain was good for the heart and I only had to stop to catch my breath once. Ok, three times. It was really hard!!! But I found the trail again and blazed on.

When I got back home I wanted to figure out how far I went so I went online to try to find the trail but haven't really found exactly the trail that I followed. There is one site that kind of has a version of it but I know it's not the right one. By using this site I am guesstimating that I went about 15 kms today. Who needs a gym when you have a built in stepper/elliptical on the side of a mountain! You just need the motivation to get out there and climb!

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