I admit, I felt a little silly putting on my weekend pack, brimming over with weighty and unnecessary items, for a day hike. I felt silly to put on my gaiters when I knew I wouldn’t need them for the trail I was hiking. I even felt silly knowing that I carried spare clothing that was far warmer than I’d conceivably need on this altogether lovely day in early March.
But I want to do a radical increase in my distance this summer. I want to do 20 mile days, three or even four days in a row. I’ll need to carry a lot of weight in food and I’ll need to be prepared, even in August, for the possibility of snow.
I repeated to myself, though no one else asked, “I am training as I mean to hike.”
On this hike, in addition to schlepping 30 pounds to the top of Lucky Peak, I also tried a route variation. I took Hornet Loop, which adds about half a mile to the one way trip. I thought that since it was a non-motorized vehicle trail that it might have a gentler grade going up.
|The start of Hornet Loop|
And at first, it did seem that way. The trail was pretty, if a bit overgrown, and meandered below Shaw Mountain Road in a way that made me wonder when it was going to get to the business of climbing, and how.
I came upon a four way intersection and made an educated guess as to my route, based on the direction of Lucky Peak. I also checked my map on my phone, but the trail did not show up on it, so I still had to guess. I will have maps on my trips in the summer, though they’ll be a little bit harder to pull up than the one on the phone.
I picked the right direction, but the trail did not switchback its way gently to rejoin Shaw Mtn Road. Oh no, it chose the direct route – nearly straight up.
|I think it’s called Hornet Loop because it stings you in the end. . .|
|This is almost vertical!|
|Of course, at the end of the loop Shaw Mtn Rd just keeps going up.|
Part of the reason I was taking that route was to extend my distance, but I also wanted to explore new terrain with a heavy pack. I will not be scouting my trail beforehand, and so I must get used to encountering new landscapes and navigating through them.
I made it to the top of Lucky Peak and settled down to wait for Ambrose to catch up, because this day we decided he would make the summit. I chatted with a few other intrepid day hikers before he showed up and then we feasted on the food I had packed. The weather was fine, sunny and on the warm side of cool. The breeze had a bite, but the sun’s heat compensated well for it.
|Ambrose’s final approach to Lucky Peak|
|Ambrose, conqueror of Lucky Peak, with his foot on the benchmark|
|We also learned how Ambrose’s new running shoes handle snow.|
On the way down, Ambrose got a head start, because I stopped to use the toilet. And he had an advantage, because I was going to take a route with an extra half mile. I dared him to beat me to the car, and then I dared myself to catch him.
|Hornet Loop does offer some nice views.|
|The four way intersection is easier to see from the top.|
As I headed down, I told myself that I would have to catch him in the last mile. I kept my steps quick, but not so quick that I would trip or slide on the loose dirt of the trail. I might have gone a bit too fast, considering my hip is still sore days later, but I caught him. So it was worth it.
|Almost got him…|
And I know that despite soreness or mild feelings of embarrassment, I’ll be back, kitted out for a bigger hike than I’m taking. Training as I mean to travel.