Jun 21 2010

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For the Exercise

Posted at 10:38 am under Blog Post

Sometimes I step into the woods to commune with nature and renew my spirit.  Other times I do it for the exercise.  I don’t like to run but I do like to hike.  So when it’s time to give my flabby, fifty-something body a workout, I grab my pack and head for the nearest mountain.

Make no mistake about it.  Hiking up a fair-sized mountain will give you just as much of a workout as a good run.  It takes longer, that’s all.

I don’t know how many times I’ve hiked up Jay Peak.  I climb it at least once a year just to see what kind of shape I’m in. The hike is 1.7 miles one way; a roughly 1600-foot rise from trailhead to summit.  I can usually get up it in an hour and twenty minutes.  My fastest time is an hour and ten.  It took an hour and a half this time around.  Nothing says “You’re out of shape” to me like those simple numbers.

Most people hike mountains for the exercise, the view, and the sense of accomplishment that bagging a peak brings.  Don’t get me wrong.  I like the view as much as the next guy.  And yes, of course, standing on a summit makes my day.  But as I get older, I do it more for the exercise than anything else.  I charge up mountains as if desperately escaping the Grim Reaper.  I figure that I’ll live to be a hundred if I climb enough mountains, all medical surprises notwithstanding.  Okay, maybe 90 or 85.

It’s more a matter of quality of life than quantity, really.  I don’t want to spend my old age bedridden or plugged to a machine if I can avoid it.  And I know I won’t be able to afford all those marvelous pills out there.  At any rate, I figure that hiking now is cheaper than taking pills later on.  Besides, it’s much more fun.

We all make choices.  Too many people choose by default – not looking ahead, not considering the consequences, or simply not dealing with it.  I have an inner tube of fat around my mid-section proving that I too have made many choices by default, opting for a cookie instead of a carrot, an hour in front of the tv or computer instead of an hour sweating.  We all make bad choices at one point or another.  But there comes a moment when physical reality smacks you up the side of the head.  Then you make a choice, consciously or otherwise, to either change your ways or stay the course.

My moment of realization came halfway up Jay a couple days ago, when I was week-legged, sweating profusely, and gasping for air.  Time to lose the inner tube, I told myself.  So there will probably be more mountains in my future.  Either that or I’ll become Jabba the Hut.

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