Posts Tagged ‘hiking’

In the first quarter of the year, I was diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes.  I was, and to some degree still am, quite heavy.  I love to cook, and hey, guess what? Eating what I cook goes hand in hand with cooking.  I have a job that is entirely desk-based, so the only way I could burn less calories at work is if somebody paid me to sleep.

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I started off watching a ton of videos on YouTube, reading fitness posts, etc. etc., but I’ve been around long enough to know that it’s really just diet and exercise to loose weight.

No, really, that’s it. Spend more calories on exercise, eat less calories, try to avoid fried foods, processed foods, etc.  Not some crazy ‘eat nothing but avocados and sunflower seeds for three weeks straight’ diet or anything like that.

At my heaviest, I was around 365.  I say ‘around’ because the scale at work stops at 350, and I wasn’t going to go find a CARGO SCALE to put my Sasquatch-sized carcass on for better accuracy.  In the six weeks leading up to being diagnosed with diabetes, I had lost thirty five pounds with very little effort. That’s what worried me, that and having to go to the bathroom about every forty-five minutes, all day, all night.

Since that time, I’ve been walking, lifting, and keeping track of what I eat with various applications on my smartphone.  I believe these are all UnderArmor apps, My Fitness Pal, Map My Walk, Map My Fitness, and Map My Ride. I’ve walked 279.6 miles since June 1st. So in 92 days, I’ve averaged just a hair over 3 miles per day.  Some weeks I’ve done far more than that, walking eight and ten miles at Sweetwater Creek State Park, Chattahoochee Bend State Park, and Red Top Mountain State Park. We also hit Skidaway Island State Park when we were in Savannah on vacation in June for a couple of miles.

I’ll toss a gallery of some of my UnderArmor walk ‘finish’ screens at the end of the post along with some photos from my hikes.

I think most people would be quite surprised at how fast their physical condition can improve simply hiking a few hours per week, let alone per day.

I’ve been lifting weights, I have a Weider home gym that I’ve nearly maxed out in all of the major exercises.

I’ve got my weight down to 314, almost all of the progress was made in the first month though, which would be disheartening, if I hadn’t also lost two pant sizes since then.   Yes, I know, muscle weighs more than fat. I’ve known that since high school biology, yet every other person I see gives me that nugget o’ information like it’s the Holy Grail of ‘Keep going!’  My blood pressure is finally in the green, my resting heart rate went from 90 to 60, and I feel very odd on days when I have to sit still. So it is working, I just have to keep going, keep reminding myself that I didn’t get here in 90 days, I’m not going to get back to where I was before in 90 days. I just hope it doesn’t take quite as long to get fit as it did to get to where I was at the beginning of the year.

My current goal is to get down to 300 pounds, at which point I want to start doing higher intensity training, because the goal after that is 275,  then 250.  I’d be quite happy with 250 at this point.

So if you’re pining away for a better you, find something, anything, to get off of the couch, out of the chair, and go do something.   Even if it’s just walking in your neighborhood.  The UnderArmor applications have challenges built in, like ‘Complete 30 GPS verified hikes in 30 days’ for a chance to win prizes, and to be honest, I don’t care about the prizes, it just helps motivate me.  The prizes are a random drawing based on completion, so don’t think you can’t win based on where you are in the ratings.’

If that sounds boring, add in audio books, or your favorite internet radio station over your smartphone, but it’s a sure bet that if you just sit still, you won’t improve your physical condition.

My big contest at this point is completing the ‘You vs. 2018’ challenge – 1018 kilometers in 2018.  I’ve completed 587.9 k at this point, and I have 123 days left to do the rest.

Easy.

Tomorrow is the start of Dove season here in Georgia – y’all be safe, and enjoy.

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In keeping with the last two years, I’m trying to increase my outdoor activities in 2018 by a wide margin.  I need the exercise, I’d like to get away from the city and suburbs a LOT more, even if that just means ‘drive to a remote place, get out of the truck, cook a lunch over a small grill, eat, relax for a bit, drive home,’ and I’d like to practice more camping and bushcraft skills.

I’ve been watching Joe Robinet’s YouTube channel quite a bit, along with McQBushcraftDoug Outside, Wranglerstar, and some other channels (I’ll put a list at the end of this post, I don’t want to leave any of them out because, lets face it, if they are running a YouTube channel, they need people to be able to find them.)  These channels have given me plenty of motivation to camp, fish, and just enjoy nature more. Thirty years ago, I camped probably one to three weekends per month and spent a good part of the summer either at a summer camp, or working at a summer camp.  Camp Chickagami to be specific.  Now, unless I push for it, I don’t get out at all, so push for it I must.

Yesterday, the wife and I drove to Cloudland Canyon State Park, near Rising Fawn, Georgia.  It’s about a two and a half hour drive from the house, but it’s one of four parks in Georgia that make up the Canyon Climbers Club achievement.

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From the map we picked up at the trading post, the hike down to the waterfall looks TINY, and in fact it’s less than two miles.  We parked near the Interpretive Center, walked the Overlook trail and took a few photos, then walked the Overlook trail to the Waterfall trail behind the cabins, down to Hemlock Falls and back again, and I think my Under Armor walking app recorded 1.69 miles.  It’s the stairs that are the killer, because you drop down several hundred feet in switchbacks along the cliff face on a combination of natural trails and wooden walkways with expanded metal stairs and decks with benches for people like me who need to sit down on the way back up.  It took us (out of shape as we are) about two and a quarter hours for the entire hike, which is very slow considering my normal hiking pace is closer to two point six miles per hour when I’m taking it easy.  We needed to take the time, because unless you really exercise on stairs or a Stairmaster, this is a serious thigh-and-calf workout. The app reported that we burned approximately 2,955 calories in that time frame.

The temperature was perfect, mid 60’s Fahrenheit, but with a nice cool breeze, plenty of ice left from last weeks freeze, and a beautiful blue sky.  We will most definitely have to go back and camp, this park has a lot of trails and is very well set up for folks to get out into nature, my only slight concern is that it does look very popular, so ‘getting away from people’ probably won’t happen unless you take the longer trails and get lucky.

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Now for the YouTube list I promised you:  I am going to link to the YouTube channel and copy the ‘About’ section from each channel below. Except for Joe Robinet, MCQBushcraft and Doug Outside (who I have been watching a lot of lately) the rest are presented in no particular order other than where I find them on my YouTube subscription list.

Joe Robinet

Bushcraft, Back Country Camping, Wilderness Canoe Tripping, Backpacking, My Dog, Scout. This channel is mainly bushcraft style camping trips, sometimes I build a natural shelter, sometimes I sleep in a tent, under a tarp, or in the snow. I try to show the realities of being out in the bush, weather it be an overnighter in the woods, or an extended, 10 day fly in canoe/fishing trip. I’ll leave in my failures, as well as my accomplishments, in an effort to show you who I really am, just a regular Canadian guy who enjoys spending time outdoors. I’m not a survivalist, and my definition of “bushcraft” may differ from yours. 🙂

Doug Outside

On this channel you will find videos on Bushcraft -Carving -homestead – making stuff and whatever else floats my boat at the time -thx for stopping by

MCQBushcraft

I’m a UK based outdoorsman who started hunting and fishing with my friends when I was young. Educating yourself about your surroundings and having the core skills to sustain yourself using your environment is a lost curriculum in the United Kingdom. We are well provided for, so well that “why do anything if somebody else will do it for you”. This lifestyle has drastically disconnected people from having the knowledge and skills required to spend even one night in the woods and not get hungry. I love being outdoors and have never lost the desire to learn and practice skills that I get a sense of natural connection from. Hunting hangs controversy in the minds of many, but in my eyes there is nothing more natural if you choose to eat meat. I appreciate that not everybody hunts in moderation though. Thanks for reading Michael McQuilton

Wranglerstar

In 2010, the Wranglerstar family decided to turn our backs on a comfortable city life and become modern day homesteaders. Our adventure starts in the rugged mountains of the Pacific Northwest. Have you dreamed of stepping off the treadmill of life? Join the Wranglerstar family as we blaze a trail for all those who dream of becoming truly independent from the mythological American dream.

TA Outdoors

Bushcraft, Wild Camping, Wilderness Hiking Trips, Solo Overnight Camps, Fishing, Shooting, Hunting, Cabin Building, DIY projects are all things I love. My dog joins me on some of the trips. His name is Jaxx. My name is Mike. If you wish to send me stuff: Mike Pullen PO Box 7466 HOOK RG27 7NA Check out our other YouTube Channel TAFishing: https://www.youtube.com/user/TAFishing

Tumblehome

Wilderness tripping / Shenanigans in the bush / Paddling the waterways of Ontario

Survival Russia

The Survival Russia Channel is about “The Reality Of Survival”. I live on a Homestead in far away Russian wild nature and here are no room for “TV” Survival. Only Reality counts here. Survival Russia promotes the philosophy of always carrying equipment and never to be parted from equipment which will affect chances of Survival. So did the old timers and pioneers of both the East and the West. I’m Danish and I Live In Russia!! Get Out and Train and Get it Done! All Content On The Survival-Russia Channel is Reserved and Copyrighted By: Survival Russia Regards, Lars

Burley Outdoors

(Burley didn’t publish an ‘About’ on his YouTube page – he is a friend of Joe Robinet’s and a great outdoorsman.)

Mountain Man Survival Guide

Bushcraft and Survival

Far North Bushcraft and Survival

Here at Far North Bushcraft And Survival you will learn about many long forgotten tricks and tips of the old time woodsmen. Not only will you learn about bushcraft / woodcraft but you will learn many things that will help you to survive in less than ideal “survival” situations as well. Come along and sit with me by the campfire as I delve into these subjects in a way that you can easily learn to then do yourself. I will show you how to make shelters, gather food, use wild medicines as well as start fires without matches, lighters, ferro rods, etc

We used to go on more hikes and more adventures with our canine friends, but over time, work and illness limited what we’ve been able to accomplish.  Last year we went to Joe Kurz WMA one time in the off season with the dogs, and just walking around the loop at Lodge road from the gate wore most of them out. It was a hot day, and even with a trip down to the river, the dogs were plain tired when we got back to the truck.

Fast forward a little over a year, and Brody is gone.  While discussing where to take the dogs on a day off last week, I pointed out that we had never hiked Red Top Mountain state park, because ten years ago when we first went there, my wife didn’t feel well and we only walked for about fifteen minutes before deciding to drive home again.

So we got our supplies together and packed up the truck. Cinders, Missy, Zelda and especially Gretchen were going nuts because RIDE IN THE CAR! HIKE! YAAAAAH! I always carry a LOT of water on these hikes, along with other gear.  What I should have taken was a wheelbarrow, because three miles into a five mile plus hike, Zelda was done.RTM_Zelda

Zelda lost the genetic lottery on just about every level.  She has severe allergies to most proteins, and is moderately allergic to rest of the proteins on the blood test.  She has seasonal allergies. She has the ‘slope back’ inbred German Shepherd shuffle, she’s near sighted (she walked into a tree on the hike, face first. She didn’t even hesitate, just ‘trudge, trudge, BOOP, whaaaa?’)   When she stands still, her back legs are touching each other, and her back feet are splayed out at a 45 degree angle. We may have to get her tested for Degenerative Myelopathy, because she’s seven now, and getting worse in her clumsiness.  We have a chain of rugs all over the house because she has a panic attack if she has to cross open hardwood floors.   At this point, she’s on antibiotics because she decided to stick her nose in one of the cats’ faces one too many times (WHAP!) and it got infected, and because of her chronic skin infection, she’s on steroids for the skin issues as well, and Apoquel, which is twice a day for her allergies.

This is a dog that gets stuck on the couch, because if we call her name from the dining room, we’re on the other side of the couch, and she can’t figure out how to get down unless we come over to the front of it. I’m not joking.

We decided on the Homestead trail, a 5.8 mile loop that has a decent amount of lake shore views, and honestly, it’s one of the nicest, easiest trails that I’ve been on in a long time. It’s wide, fairly rock-free, (some areas have loose stones, but that looks like erosion, not like some of the trails I’ve been on, where it looks like volunteers intentionally rake rocks on the trails because they never actually use them.  I’m looking at you, Pine Mountain.) and whoever graded the trail to begin with made the elevation changes very manageable.  There are benches spaced throughout the trail, and it’s very well marked.

So there we are, with Cinders, our twelve year old German Shorthaired Jerkdog (he’s a jerk. You’d have to know him to know how big of a jerk he is, but we love him.) had been PULLING me all day, because despite having done this dozens and dozens of times, being on a leash, to him, means ‘Pull, pull hard, never stop pulling…’  So, in the front of the hike, I’ve got the oldest and youngest dogs, Cinders and Missy, with Cinders pulling for all he’s worth, and at the back of the hike is Lisa with Gretchen and Zelda, and Zelda would prefer to be carried. All eighty plus pounds of her. There is no couch. There is no TV, she doesn’t want to be here, at all.

When we got to the loop intersection of Homestead, my wife said ‘I don’t know if the Pointed Dog can make this hike,’ because Zelda was already looking tired.  We discussed it for a bit, and finally decided to go ahead, but take it slow. Halfway through the loop, almost exactly, we realized we’d made a mistake.  She would walk for ten to fifteen yards, trip over her own back feet, and lay down. The wife would  help her stand again, and the process would repeat.  We had forgotten her boots as well, because the dog will not or cannot pick her feet up, so she was starting to get sore spots from dragging her back paws when she walked.  I noticed on the walking app that we were, by this point, parallel to one of the roads, and suggested that we walk to the edge of the road, where the wife could wait with the dogs and my pack, and I would speed-walk back to the truck and come get them.  And that was the final plan.

The splits on the walking app look hilarious. 53 minute miles,  until the last 1.3 miles, which I did by myself in under twenty minutes.

For three days after the hike, I was very worried about Zelda. She wouldn’t even stand up without help. I had to carry her up and down the stairs to out to the yard, and once out there, she would just stand in the grass and look at me.  But my wife reported that when she got home, the dog was stiff, but up and moving and doing her business outside with minimal help. (I worked twelve hour midnight turn the three days after the hike) It occurred to me that Zelda wouldn’t get up and move because she thought I was going to make her walk ‘forevers’ again.

So, on to the next plan, getting her into better shape, one short walk at a time, until we can go back to hiking more often.

Another Sunday, another hike!  I told the wife and Little Bear that I was hitting the White trail at Sweetwater Creek State Park this morning, even though it was a bit chilly out.   The wife had to work today, and Little Bear had a friend visiting, so I was going to solo the hike.

Great! Five miles of solitude and nature, all to myself!

Or so I thought.

See, the Georgia Ultrarunning and Trailrunning Society had a 30 mile trail race on the White Trail this morning.

30.

Miles. 

So, while I was doing my peaceful, solo, 5 mile hike… I kept getting lapped.  Which was hilarious, because it went from “Good morning!” or “Howdy!”  to “Good morning again!” and “That’s three laps!”  I know several of them lapped me four times.  That’s TWENTY MILES to my five.

My ‘Map My Walk’ fitness app said I walked 5.15 miles for 3,600 calories.  Even if they just WALKED that far instead of, you know, RUNNING it, that would put them at 20,000 plus calories for the event.

I made the decision as soon as I saw the sign at the trailhead that said ‘GUTS: Wrong Way’ to hike against the ‘flow’ of traffic, this let me see them coming and get out of the way, because I take up a lot of trail.

Still, it was a good hike. Not as much of an elevation change as the Yellow trail, but lots of rough terrain.

Here are a few of the photos, including one of the New Manchester Manufacturing ruins, the rest are in THIS ALBUM on the 323 Archery FaceBook page.

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I decided to hit Sweetwater State Park this morning for a hike – Little Bear (my 17 year old daughter) came out of hibernation around 10:30am (nearly five hours after I got up, and really, who could sleep that long when I intentionally STOMPED through the house for five hours?) and I said ‘get your hiking boots and let’s go.’

She got her hiking boots, though I didn’t think to tell her ‘and put real socks on, not those cute-almost-socks you like,’ and we drove over to Sweetwater State Park, which is only ten minutes or so away from the house.  I already had a map of the park in my truck from a visit a few weeks ago, so I asked Little Bear what trail she wanted to walk. My vote was for the White trail, which is about five miles long, but relatively flat.  She opted for the Yellow trail, which looks much shorter on the map, but has a lot of elevation changes that the White trail doesn’t.  According to the elevations on the trail map from the park, the White trail changes by approximately 150′ over the course of five miles.

The yellow trail changes by about four hundred  and fifty feet in three miles, ranging from 850 feet to 1200 feet.   This isn’t a ‘OMG!’ elevation change, but for a spur-of-the-moment hike by people who are out of practice, the difference is noticeable.

So, hike it we did, it took about an hour and fifty minutes, and according to my fitness app on my smart phone, it was 3.56 miles from the truck and back again.

Little bear? She went back into hibernation as soon as we hit the house.

So I had a plan to scout yesterday, but to paraphrase Terry Pratchett, it was more of a “PLN!”

“Whut’s the plan, Rob?” said one of them.
“Okay, lads, this is what we’ll do. As soon as we see somethin’, we’ll attack it. Right?”
This caused a cheer.
“Ach, ’tis a good plan,” said Daft Wullie.” (The Wee Free Men, 2004)

The plan was somewhat simple – head to camp (2+ hour drive), look about a bit, make sure nothing had been broken, stolen, or chewed up by pesky critters, move a feeder and check a few stands.  But here’s the complication, it’s summer, my daughter is here for another two weeks, and we really haven’t done much this summer, so the plan includes taking the wife, daughter, and all four woofers with us.  So now it’s go for a walk at camp on the main trails with four big dogs, the wife and daughter, and then when they’re tuckered out dash off, move a feeder, fill it, check one stand, and get back before they get bored.

Heh. Yeah, I thought the same thing you just did before we ever left the house, but what the heck, it was worth a try. 🙂

Here are the woofers involved:

L to R – Brody (GSP), Gretchen (Blue Tick/Black Lab), Zelda (GSD) These are our three rescue dogs

This is Cinders (GSP), he’s our only non-rescue dog, he’s seven years old, but his nickname is still ‘da puppy.’

We’ve been trying to get these critters more trail-savvy, so we decided that we’d use our hunting dog training collars today and only use leashes if needed.  It worked out very well, with Brody, Gretchen and Zelda staying mostly close to us, while Cinders zoomed everywhere, but came back close every time we asked him to. (We were worried about Zelda mainly, this is where she was found at five months old, wandering around with a bad skin infection, missing a lot of fur and skinny as a rail.  Over the last year of veterinarian care, we’ve discovered that she’s allergic to everything. If she catches a rabbit, she’ll most likely explode.)

Our camp is in Taylor County, GA, and by ‘our camp’ I mean where I’ve been given permission to hunt. The property belongs to one of my friend’s uncles, 875 acres of rolling hills covered in oak, pine, and sweet sand.  Oh yeah, and deer, coyotes, armadillos, squirrels, turkey, and crows.   We have over twenty ladder stands out that we maintain and move if we find a better spot, good trails wide enough for a pickup truck over half of the property, wide enough for golf carts where it’s too narrow for a full size vehicle.

Yesterday, it actually felt like it was on the surface of the sun.

It was in the mid 90’s, with about 60% humidity, which is far lower than the temperature when I was in Herat, Afghanistan, but the humidity made the temperature miserable.

We walked from the cabins to what we call Beaver Gulch, both to look at the area and because I had remembered (wrongly) that the creek down at the bottom was shallow and had a few small pools in it for the dogs to drink from. We had water with us, but the biggest dog was starting to breath fast and hard, so I wanted to get him cooled down as soon as possible.  The stream bed was barely damp, so we turned back around and headed for the beaver pond in the middle of the property. At this point, I have to say that I failed in my duty to take some good video or photographs, because I was starting to melt too, but let me say this – a fat dog jumping in a beaver pond and paddling around while he drinks was a pretty amusing sight.

I gathered up a Moultrie feeder  on the way through to the beaver pond, an older bucket ‘on demand’ feeder, but at this point, I figured I wouldn’t be able to get it where I wanted it during this trip.  At least I could have it near the cabin for the next trip though, so I lugged it along with us.

At the cabin, I took some photographs of bucks that have been harvested either from the camp, or near the camp, that we have on the wall.  Hope everyone enjoys these bucks as much as we do!

V-Tine – Last year’s ‘big boy’ from our camp.

Now the new plan is to go back in a week or two and set up the feeder, put out a mineral block or two and check the stands I meant to check today.  Next time, though, I’ll leave a lot earlier, and use the golf carts, and for that trip, sadly, the woofers will have to stay at home.