Snow Angel vs. Lumberjack

Karen and Don both went hiking this weekend, albeit separated by 3000 miles (Karen in Oregon and Don in Virginia)… So, we get to do a little compare and contrast:

  • Weather: Karen enjoyed a clear, crisp day after some recent snow, so she got to hike thru 8” deep snow.  Don also enjoyed a clear, crisp day in the aftermath of 2 days of 40-60 mph winds, so he got to experience hundreds of trees that had been blown over (many directly on the trail).
  • Fun things to do while hiking solo: Karen photographed her footprints in the snow along with her shadow (I should have copyrighted my “Me and My Shadow” post!). She also couldn’t resist the impulse to make a snow angel! Don on the other hand got to climb over, under, through and around the oh so many trees that had fallen on the trail.
  • Distance to trailhead: Karen has a distinct advantage here… she lives within 5 miles of the trail, whereas Don has to drive 60 miles to get to his hiking spot.
  • Selfie comparison: Karen / Snow Angel / Don…

Anyhow, both continue to train hard for the upcoming Everest Base Camp adventure… less that one month until we depart for Nepal!

Finally, if you’re interested in some short videos here are a couple of clips from Don’s hike:



Training at the Bottom of the World

Ron and Donna are traveling in South America, ten days into the 5 week cruise. Ron reports that he is countering the “Cruise Ship Bulge” by working out in the ship’s Fitness Center and climbing the ship’s many stairways. He is also making a name for himself on some of the more adventurous shore excursions as “that crazy gringo with the weights in his pack!”

Although he seems to be making a valiant effort to remain “trek ready,” we all know that Ron loves chocolate, cookies and snacks, and there is an endless supply of each on ship – but I am confident his Army discipline will keep him focused.

Some serious shipboard training…

Of note, the first two countries they visited were Argentina and Chile. This home to the famed Patagonia Region brings some of the best trekking and hiking on earth. Even more impressive, Ron continues to load his pack with 25 lbs of dead weight (a couple barbells from the ship’s gym).

Hiking in Tierra del Fuego with contraband barbells!

True to his nature, Ron has gotten the ship’s staff bend to his will… He reports that the ship’s security has confiscated the weights each time he re-boards (maybe they think the weights could be used as a weapon). But, according to Donna, they must have finally given in since she overheard security saying:

That’s the crazy guy who carries weights around the ship and on shore. Oh, him again… just let him go!

Progress!… Anyway, we’re all hoping that his fitness routine serves him well to combat the Bulge and be ready for EBC.

Me and My Shadow

Today was a solo hike… my normal hiking partners, Ron and John are otherwise engaged. Ron has taken a different tact in his preparation. He and his wife are on a cruise around South America, so I’ll definitely be interested in hearing how he is adapting his training regime while partaking in 5-course gourmet meals! John is training for a 1/2 marathon, so he got enough exercise during a 9 mile run.

So… I am left to hike alone. Today’s hike was the 9 mile Buck Ridge/Mary’s Rock/Buck Hollow loop in Shenandoah National Park. The day was perfect, mid-30’s with light snow on the trail. The Buck Ridge portion of this trail features a 600+ section of log stairs that ascend 400 ft over 0.3 miles. It is a good test of my fitness from all the stair-climber training.

With the fresh snow, I was able to see a number of animal tracks, including rabbit, bobcat and even a large disturbed area where a bear rolled around on the ground. Since the winter is pretty short and mild, the bears are beginning to get active. Luckily, I didn’t encounter one on my solo hike!

If you’re bored, here are some video links:

Mary’s Rock overlooking the Shenandoah Valley

A New Distance Record!

Karen continues to keep the bar high for her training. This weekend she went back to one of her frequent hikes (Stukel Mt.) and decided to hike the entire 13.5 mile out & back trail… a distance in excess of a half marathon! Here is her description of the hike…

Hike up to top of Stukel yesterday. About 13.5 miles. A few steep areas, but pretty gradual, easy hike… beautiful day for hiking.

Gym Prep: Lots-o Stairs

In addition to the regular hikes, a lot of time is spent in the gym to prepare for the upcoming trek. One of my favorite exercises, and I believe most effective, is the stair climber. It’s a great workout to strengthen the large leg muscles and it definitely gives me an edge when climbing during our weekend hikes.

The equivalent of climbing 3 1/2 Empire State Buildings


Karen Exceeds 1/3 the Altitude of EBC!

Karen continues to take advantage of the close proximity of a number of hills (aka “mountains” if you live in VA or IA like the rest of us). This past weekend she and her husband, Larry hiked to the top of Stukel Mt, ascending about 2,000 ft and topping out at an old fire lookout at the top (6,545 ft). As a point of reference for what we are all preparing for, the altitude of Everest Base Camp (EBC) is 17,600 ft!


Based on the pictures the weather looked a bit windy and blustery, but these hikes are becoming routine. Clearly she is ready for the big excursion. Looks like she got to test out a new jacket and gloves due to the cooler weather…

High Desert Trekking Courtesy of Deb

Deb had to travel to Arizona for work and decided to go for a little hike in the high desert. Not only did this give her the opportunity to get some hill work in (as compared to her standard training in the relatively flat state of Iowa), but she was able to closely simulate the dry, arid terrain that we’ll be experiencing in Nepal… albeit without the colder temperatures or the chance encounter with an angry yak! During her 4 mile hike she gained over 1,000 feet and had an opportunity to test out her trekking poles and put some more miles on her hiking boots.





Global Warming = Beautiful Winter Day in Oregon

Karen and her husband Larry hiked the full Spence Mountain trail on a beautiful sunny, warm day! With a start elevation of 4,321 ft, they ascended to 5,832 ft during a 9.7 mi hike in 4 hrs. For those who don’t do much hiking, that is a pretty torrid pace, especially at altitudes exceeding 1 mi high! During the hike, Karen tested the hydration pack system, essentially a water bladder with a mouth tube. She wasn’t too crazy about how hard it can be to pull (suck) the water into your mouth. She prefers the standard Nalgene bottle.


The pictures attest to how beautiful the scenery is on this hike with views of Mt. Shasta, Mt. Scott (in nearby Crater Lake National Park), and Mt. McLaughlin.

Sweat-cicle (yep… that’s an icicle of sweat!)

What a beautiful day for a hike!… Cold (15 deg at start), but clear with no wind. Today Ron and I did a repeat of the White Oak Canyon/Cedar Run Trail hike, but we added the Hawksbill Gap Loop for some additional altitude gain and miles. All in all, we hiked 10.5 miles with a total altitude gain of close to 3000 ft.

Once again, despite the cold temperatures, we both worked up a sweat during the climb. The combination of freezing temperatures, drinking lots of fluids, and wearing a hat that shed water resulted in the fascinating process of seeing a icicle form directly in front of my face. Here are some pictures that show what happened over a period of 3 hours while we were hiking from the start of the White Oak Canyon trail to the top of the Hawksbill overlook.