Rest your weary head
Morning usually comes early on hiking days. Doubly so when you’re getting over the flu. I knew I needed a good night’s rest to get up at 4:15 and get packed up and to Ethan’s house for 5:30, so having just the slightest remnant of symptoms left over from a 5 day flu-esque illness, I downed some NyQuil at around 9pm and settled in for a good, long sleep… which never really happened.
I mean, NyQuil is supposed to put you to sleep, right? That’s sort of the point, as far as I’ve been told. No such luck this night – I was wide awake until right around midnight. Ugh.
So when the alarm went off at 4:15am I was not thrilled, but I had a mountain to climb, so off I went. Boy am I ever glad I did.
What to do?
I arrived at Ethan’s house right at 5:30a and he asked whether we should take one car or two, as I had mentioned I may do more than just Hale, since he was on a tight schedule and I was not. I thought about it and decided that with 4 hours of sleep and still being a touch “under the weather”, I would plan on hiking one 4K and see what the day would bring after that. Again, am I ever glad that I did.
We piled into the “Adventure Car”, Ethan’s Subaru Crosstrek, and took off for that Mecca of caloric indulgence: Dunkin’ Donuts. I ordered a sausage, egg and cheese on a croissant and a large iced coffee. It was pretty good. I have been doing Keto for a while now, but I have found that carbs on hiking days are really, truly helpful, so I indulged. I knew I would burn more calories than I was ingesting anyway, so I didn’t feel to horrible about it.
We arrived at the Hale Brook Trail head at more or less 7am on the dot and donned our packs. We set off at a decent pace and before we knew it we were at the summit. Ethan was the stronger of us this time, beating me to the summit by around 3 minutes or so. I was decidedly not in peak form, so I took it a little bit slower.
Upon arrival we noted that we never had to stop on our way up, which was more than we could say about our last few hikes, usually we stop at least once or twice along the way. Granted this is a short hike, but you still climb ~2,300ft over 2.2 miles, so it’s no joke. We felt good about that. Ethan snapped a picture of me atop the enormous summit cairn and after inhaling an RX Bar, we headed down, noting that it had only taken us a tiny bit more than an hour to summit. With that in mind, we decided to see how fast we could (safely) descend and we made great time (for us).
Our cardio has improved dramatically since the beginning of the season, thanks to both of us committing to running nearly daily during the week. Again, I was feeling under the weather a bit and Ethan was feeling strong, so I told him to go ahead and see about a sub 2-hour time; I would catch up at the end. We were both moving very well even over the rougher sections, which we attribute to experience pushing the envelope a bit on our recent descents. It really is part conditioning, part skill to be able to descend quickly.
All’s Well That Ends Well.
Ethan did, indeed finish the hike in under 2 hours, which was a proud achievement. However as it turned out, we would both turn in a sub 2-hour time on this day, though narrowly for me; finishing in 1:56, a few minutes behind Ethan, as expected.
We were elated. Although it’s one of the easiest of the 48 4Ks, we averaged a solid time over relatively steep terrain the entire way, there weren’t that many flat areas to stretch our legs, so we felt great. I bagged #27, so there are only 21 left to go, which I hope to cut into with a few range traverses later this season.