I’m cuddling up on the couch with my blanket, laptop, and favorite cat right now.
My mind keeps wandering, however, to the National Trail.
The National Trail travels the South Mountain Park from end to end. It’s like walking from 40th Avenue to 40th Street. Except that you have to walk up and down a bunch of mountains to get there. It’s 14.7 miles total. I haven’t yet calculated the elevation gain but it felt like 2,000 feet (cumulative).
Lou, our friend Stephanie, and I met before sunrise at the park’s Central Ave entrance Sunday. After searching for scorpions with a black light, cramming bagels in our mouths, and taking a final bathroom break with the luxury of running water (in most cases), we set out from the west end of the park.
Within the first few miles, we started climbing. And climbing. And climbing some more. It wasn’t until mile 9 when the endless pattern of steep ascents, descents, and then ascents to climb back up the elevation we had just trekked down finally let up.
This was unexpected. I had told my hiking companions that I anticipated just one major climb that would last 2 miles. Oops.
We took it like a bunch of pros. Especially Stephanie. She has joined us on a few hikes throughout this book project and though she’s in great shape, she hasn’t had the 70+ hikes Lou and I have enjoyed to refine her endurance. In spite of this, she pushed on without complaint and stayed at our heels the entire time. I feel funny saying this (because I’m not her parent), but I was so damn proud of her.
In fact, I was proud of all three of us. No one freaked out. No one got angry. No one even got grumpy.
Instead, we joked and chatted (between heavy breathing) for the entire 7.5 hours.
There aren’t very many people who can pull off 7.5 hours of constant exercise with such finesse. I feel lucky to know at least two.
“I almost want to say that hike on Sunday was spiritual,” Stephanie texted to me today.
I completely agree.
Writer’s Note: Upon further inspection, this trail was actually 14.7 miles. Not 15.5 as originally written.