Stranded In The Southland

Thursday, October 19, 2006

Twin Peaks and the Technological Solution to Being Out of Shape

I've been increasingly disappointed in my level of conditioning, making for some pretty slow slogs up mountains. It is clear that hiking on the weekends alone will not improve my fitness level. So, naturally, rather than redoubling my efforts at aerobic exercize during the week, I did what any geek would do:

I bought a heart-rate monitor, so I could see if I was really working hard enough on my weekend hikes. Well, plus it is just a fun toy. I got a Polar F6, which lets me see how well I'm doing, and has a weird audio upload and download function (kind of like a modem). It's fun, but really, it just tells me how out of shape I am. :-(

Anyway, I headed up Twin Peaks last weekend with F. This involves an 11-mile round trip, with a steep 1000-foot climb up, a nearly identical descent, and then another climb. And then a repeat on the way back. It turns out that the final climb is up a use trail with not many switchbacks -- it just kind of goes straight up the mountain.

It was a wonderful hike, made doubly so by the unpromising start -- the skies were cloudy, and it was actually raining pretty hard (despite forcasts of clearing) by the time we'd driven about halfway to the trailhead. Fortunately, as we drove on, we rose above the clouds, revealing a beautiful clear blue sky.

It was amazing hanging out on this mountaintop, looking out at world of clouds with a mountain range poking up above 'em. There were a few isolated peaks poking out of the lower clouds (they went to around 5,500 feet), which I made a desoltary effort to identify with map and compass. From up there, you couldn't begin to guess that one of the nation's largest metropolitan areas lay just a stone's throw away. Yow.

Aside from my lousy conditioning, my right knee seems a bit unhappy, but hopefully I can fix that with more stretching and a bit more care. I seem to have messed it up with clumsy descending on the Lookout Mountain hike a few weeks ago. Thank goodness for hiking poles.

I went up to the Ski Hut two weeks ago, just to try out the new HR monitor, and my knee hurt, then, too. I'll have to be careful not to get some sort of overuse injury. And careful that I actually get some benefit from the HR monitor!