Monday, September 12, 2011

Doing the Impossible

Whenever I heard of hikers doing some kind of long distance hiking in one day, I thought they were crazy. I'm not talking about the standard 20 miles one sometimes puts in (in fact I did it a few weeks back on my short section hike I will report on later this week). I'm talking long mega distances like over 30 miles a day benchmark. I thought it was crazy. I knew it would never happen to me. I'm middle aged. I've had health issues. Hip pain, Leg pain. Tendinitis that loves to creep up on me. It's for the younger crowd, I reasoned.

But then I saw these two hikers doing what is called the Crooked 100 to raise money for Shenandoah National Park Trust. Their plan - to walk all of Shenandoah National Park in three days. 100 miles. That averages 33 miles a day. I applaud their idea. Anything to help raise money (and avoid the broke federal government funding) should get multiple kudos these days.

But then this got me thinking - could I possibly do a 30 plus mile hike in one day? To do something beyond one's ability, or so they think? I began considering this long hike even more. And decided I would give it a try and hike all of the central section of Shenandoah in one day. 34.8 miles, from Swift Run Gap to Thornton Gap.

On Friday, September 9, 2011, I got my hubby to give me a ride to the trailhead at Swift Run Gap. It was still dark out at 6 AM. But I wasted no time. I got out my headlamp and knew I had to make a 3 mile an hour pace for a good chunk of the day if I was to have any chance of getting off the trail before late night. I headed out by headlamp. Immediately my hips started hurting. I ignored it. The daylight came, and I was able to switch off my headlamp. Then had some spurts of rain to dampen the morning until sunshine broke through. I also had to break through the multitude of spider webs trying to bar my way. But I trudged on. I stopped only a few times that day for ten minute breaks. I tried eating, but it was hard. My appetite was fairly quenched. But I made pretty good time, arriving at the Big Meadows campground area by noon. If everything held out, I had a chance to accomplish this feat.

But after the 20 mile mark, my feet started breaking down. I had brought several pairs of socks and changed regularly, but still the blisters came. I started getting general aches and pain and took my Vitamin I to keep things going. By the time I got to Sklyand though I was having major abdominal pain from eating an energy bar. I had to sit down for a time. My feet were killing me. It was going to take everything I had to finish this quest. Make no mistake. Mind over matter to the highest degree.

At Pinnacles Picnic Grounds my hubby was waiting for me with needed nutrition. When I frst sat down a the picnic table and he gave me orange juice and some snacks, I could barely eat, I was so sick. It's hard to describe. But once the juice infused into my system along with the bread and other food, I felt stronger. After 20 minutes I was able to shoulder my daypack and go on. The time was 5:35PM. Even though my feet felt liked chopped meat, I pressed on.

Blissful completes 34.8 miles in one day
I didn't stop now until I headed down off Mary's Rock and ran into hubby who came up to meet me. We hiked down the last mile together and arrived at Thornton Gap pakring lot at 7:45 PM, having met my goal of 34.8 miles, the most I've ever hiked.

Yes, there are hikers who have done this much and even more. But for a near 50- year-old woman to sneak out this kind of day was a big deal for me mentally and emotionally. And it showed me that it isn't impossible to set your sights on some impossible goal. Just go for it.


Eddie said...

That's great that you were able to meet your goals. 35 miles is no small feat! Congrats

Lauralee Bliss said...

Thanks so much

bobtail said...

Great job Mind over matter something to keep at the forefront of thoughts new subscriber bobtail aka trucker Joe spent the night at shelter north of waynesboro with the three green bag ladies I hung your food on the bear pole b4 labor day very informative site thank you happy days

bobtail said...

Great job mind over matter I like it first time blogger very informative site myself and another couple spent the night at shelter north of waynesboro before labor day along with the green bag ladies when you were there thanks for the info on sleeping pads that I asked you about. Thanks again will check your site often. Bobtail aka trucker Joe

Beth Wagenius said...

Wow! I can't imagine doing that. congratulations! I'm new to your blog, and have been enjoying it.

afqh said...

Its high achievement for middle aged women.
You have much courage and done very good job.