How Exercise Helps us Tolerate Pain

The NYTIMES ran a health article about this admittedly small sample research project today.

How Exercise Helps Tolerate Pain

I don’t need this study to include more than a meager sample of 12 to know it’s the truth.

At this point in my life I regularly engage in a level of exercise that pushes me right to the pain zone: mountain biking, backpacking, hiking, snowshoeing, or snow biking.

My wife tells other people, “Everything Tom does for sports has to have suffering in it”.
IMG_2179.JPG
It’s pretty simple. If I am going on a challenging hike, I want to experience it as easier that other activities that I have suffered through. For example, I’m headed up to Katahdin for a week of backpacking. I have prepared by carrying a mass of iron chain that pushes to weight in my back pack to 23 pounds. I train on steep trails, where I m pushing to 3.5 mph.

Hurting helps.

My Packing List – 1 Week/ Baxter State Park

Still working on streamlining my current backpacking gear.  My “kit” is now down to 15 pounds without food or water.  Since all but one night will be under shelter ( 3 sided lean-tos ), I will probably ditch my 2 pound tent and be down to 13 pounds.  Comments, suggestions , and questions welcome.

“The more you know, the less you carry”- Mors Kochanski

Uncle Tom’s Final Packing list  (rev. 8.14)

1. Pack Group:
1 Backpack – Granite Gear Leopard AC 58…………………   49 .0 oz =3.06  lbs.

2. Shelter Group:
rain wrap                                                                                          2.4 oz
rain jacket                                                                                        8.0 oz
1 Tarptent -Moment —–                                                            32.0 oz.
Total…………………………………………….                                      42.4  oz  = 2.65 lbs

3. Sleeping Group:
1 down bag, Western Mountaineering/stuff sack, 40°F        26.0 oz.
1 Ibex wool long sleeve zip T                                                       5.8 oz.
1 Ibex long tights                                                                            5.4 oz
1 socks wool                                                                                    2.6 oz.
1 headlamp w/ batteries  ( Princeton Byte)                              2.1 oz.
1 stuff sack sil-nylon………………………                                        1.3 oz.
1  Neo Air  inflatable mattress                                                   13.0
Total……………………………………………                                        56. ounces  = 3.5 lbs.

4.  Spare Clothing :
1 pr. wool socks                                                                              2.9 oz.
1 pr. Manzilla Windstopper gloves                                            2.2 0z.
1 Ibex wool hat                                                                               2.1 oz.
1 pr.  Patagonia mid weight stretch tights                                8.6 oz.
1  wool Patagonia midweight long sleeve hoodie                    9.4 oz.
1 Patagonia Puffball  jacket                                                         11 oz.
1 pr. New Balance Minimus shoes                                               9.0
Total……………………………………………                                       45.0  ounces=  2.8 lbs.

5. Kitchen Group:
1 Steripen  Utra                                                                               4.8 oz.
1  “Four Dog”  Bushcooker LT1 multifuel stove,  titanium
windscreen, titanium cook pot 700 ml w/ lid                         10.0 oz.
2 lighters…………………………………………….                                 1.2 oz.
1 water bottle – used Gatorade bottle…                                       1.7 oz.
1 qt. water bottle ( “Triple Crown Tiki Mon”)                           5.4 oz.
1 Ursak Minor – food bag………….                                                2.7 oz.
abrasive scrub pad, Bronner’s soap                                            1.0 oz.
1 titanium spork……………………………………                               0.3 oz.
1 cup, bowl=Orikaso                                                                      4.2 oz.
1 MSR coffee filter                                                                          0.6 oz.
2 bandannas………………………………………..                               2.0 oz.
1 length cord – 50’……………………………..                                   2.5 oz.
Total………………………………………….                                          36.  ounces     =  2.25  lbs.

6. Hygiene Group:
1 small pack towel……………………………..                                   1.0 oz.
1 bottle hand cleaner                     …………                                   1.3 oz.
1 small zip lock………………………………….                                   1.3 oz
w/ floss, vitamins, ointment, emery boards
1    toilet paper……………………..                                                   1.0 oz.
1 Baby wipes                                                                                    2.0 oz.
1 chap stick                                                                                       0.2 oz.
1 disposable razor                                                                           0.1 oz.
1 small child toothbrush……………………..                                  0.5 oz
1 small tube tooth paste…………………….                                    0.7 oz.
Total……………………………………………..                                       9.4  ounces  =  0.6 lbs

7. Electronics:
1    iPhone with headphones                                                            5.1 oz.
1    Olympus Stylus Tg-830 waterproof digital camera/video  7.1 oz.
1      Anker portable charger for camera, iPhone, Steripen       4.2 oz.
Total……………………………………………..                                          16.4 ounces =   1.0 lb

8. Navigation:
Map, compass                                                                                            3.9 oz.   =    0.2  lb

9. Wearing:
1 cap                        1 pr. On The Beach/ boots
1 pr. sunglasses                1 pr. gaiters
1 pr. Leki poles                1 pr.  socks
1 Ibex wool zip-t        1 pr. synthetic underpants     1 pr. Patagonia shorts

Total packed weight  without food, or water                                   15    pounds

Thru-Hiking Baxter State Park (2014 version)

Me on the Summit of Baxter (2009)

Me on the Summit of Baxter (2009)

My long-awaited week at Maine’s Baxter State is almost here.  Here is the itinerary that I just sent the three folks on this adventure. At the time I reserved my route, three months ago, Chimney Pond Campground was already sold out for Monday with space for just 2.  Chimney is the pick of the litter as far as BSP campgrounds go, even though it is a 3.3 mile hike from your vehicle.

Day 1 Roaring Brook parking lot to Chimney Pond Campground (CPC)     3.3 miles
( Guthook and Uncle Tom have the last Bunkhouse slots )

Day 2 Summit Day for Katahdin   (staying in Lean-to #02)       route undetermined
( Chris could hike in 3.3 miles to Chimney Pond Lean-to for his 1st day)

Day 3  CPC—>Roaring Brook—>Russell Pond CG  (lean-to #05)         10 miles
(Chris could also meet up at RB parking lot for his first day and have 6.5 miles for this day)

Day 4  RPCG—> Upper South Branch Lean To- via Pogy Notch Trail                9.5 miles

Day 5 USBP Lean-to to South Branch Campground Lean to # 02         12 miles (via Traveler Mountain Loop) – (lower mileage and much less demanding options are 2.1 on east side of SB Pond or 4.7 miles on the west side of the Pond)

Day 6 SBCG to Long Pond Pines tent site                    7.5 Miles

Day 7 Hike out from tent site back to a car ( back the 7.5 miles ) at South Branch Campground and then drive to Nesowadnehunk Field Campground (NFCG) for Lean-to #7  – We planned to summit Doubletop ( 6.8 miles round trip) either this day, or sleep at NFCG this day OR

Day 8   Double Top Mtn. in the morning with no gear in a day pack (6.8 miles round trip) and drive home this day  .

Chris,

all the maps for this itinerary are downloadable on the Baxter State Park Web site- if you have the ability to print them out, you should do it and have your own map(s)- alternatively you can purchase a nice Delorme waterproof map of BSP for about $9,  or a MUCH better deal is to purchase a copy of the revised (2012)  AMC  Maine Mountain Guide for $24, which will give you great reading about all these trails . You’ll also have the 100 Mile Wilderness map for our upcoming September fly-in trip on The Hundred.

Here is an excellent description of the rigorous, but rewarding Traveler Loop Trail that I hope to do on Day 5.

All nights except for one will be in a 4 person lean-to.

As of yesterday, there are still mosquitoes in BSP. I am undecided as to how I will deal with them.  If I had a bivvy sack, it would be my first choice.  I may go minimal just bring some Deet and a head net.  Only 1 night will be at a tent site, so I may cowboy that night, or if the weather is iffy, I will have my tent stashed in the car at South Branch Pond campground.  I’ll get that and pack it in to Long Pond Pines tent site.

I will update my packing list and get it to you, Chris.

WHOOOOOO!

Hiking with Transient

I hiked with Transient, another Triple Crowner,  in the Camden Hills State Park today .  Here’s our 10 mile loop:

10 miles in Camden Hills

10 miles in Camden Hills

I had a 23 pound pack on, just for the weight. The weight was 90% rusted towing chain.  I’m putting the finishing touches on preparing for a week of backpacking in Baxter State Park here in Maine in two weeks.

On the way up, I saw something I had never seen before, a woman pushing a regular carriage containing  her baby up the Multipurpose trail.  She let me take their picture: IMG_3347 2

Transient came by for a brief overnight stay on his way to Halifax, Nova Scotia.  I had maybe 6 encounters with Transient in 2010 in California, Oregon, and Washington while we were both thru-hiking the Pacific Crest Trail.  We camped together a couple of times and reached the California/Oregon border at the exact same day and time. The two of us had never hiked together until today. Transient talked non-stop the whole three hours of the walk. I loved it. He talked about people and events that happened on the PCT that I didn’t experience or that I had already erased from my memory.  For example, I did not know that Stick had spent 9 years in prison in California.

I followed Transient’s southbound 2012 Continental Divide Trail Journal.   Transient had a rough time with the June snowpack in Glacier National Park.  His journal persuaded me to hike northbound.

Transient is just one week from returning from a month long solo hike on one of the Caminos, starting in France, and ending at the Atlantic in Spain.  He is right now in total hiker shape, and I had to push myself to keep up with him. He still harbors thru hiker habits. Transient was leaned out enough that his shorts bunched around his waist.  He needed a belt.  I graciously declined Transient’s offer of a half an unrefrigerated egg salad sandwich that he dug out of his pack.

Transient came up with an great idea that I adopted on my own CDT thru-hike.

Transient's gift

Transient’s gift

He had made up a number of “Trail Angel” patches that carried with him and gave to individuals that assisted with rides when he hitchhiked, with rooms offered, and with instances of unexpected grace that came his way when he needed it.  He sent me a few dozen that I also handed out on my own 2013 hike.

Here’s the only photo of Transient and me that I have.

Transient and Me

Transient and Me

It was taken today by a hiker up near the top of Mt. Megunticook at 1400 feet.  It’s the best I could get, given the mottled sunlight and shade.  Transient was irritated that I was taller than he was so I slunk down a bit.  I think it conveys the reality of our lives, that we have blended in with the open trail.

Running 5 Minutes a Day Has Long-Lasting Benefits

Running 5 Minutes a Day Has Long-Lasting Benefits<—from the NY Times

photo from iStock

photo from iStock

I’m a total convert to brisk walking.  In terms of evolution, walking is what got us to where we are today.  For a very interesting summer read, I’d recommend hitting the library and check out  “The Story of the Human Body: Evolution, Health, and Disease” by Daniel E. Lieberman. liebermanbook Lieberman writes  that when we eventually stood up some millions of years ago, we could finally use our hands to reach for fruit on trees, and when we became more adept at walking, we were able to pursue living food sources, and in some cases escape larger predators that saw us as their next meal.

Walking, and it’s biomechanical sibling- running, may well be the key to your own personal longevity right now.

How long has it been since you have pushed your body hard, stressing your legs muscles and joints?  I don’t run anymore.  I tried that when I was in my 20’s and ended up with the frayed and torn cartilage being removed from both knees. Big heavy guys like me shouldn’t be training for marathons, or triathlons.

I then took up bicycling and am still at it, and enjoying it more than ever, but I’m fearful of the growing texting-as-you-drive phenomenon and try to stay off the roads and keep to the woods on my bikes. I don’t want to be taken out by a drifting, inattentive, possibly impaired driver.

The NY Times ran this most interesting article this past week, one that I’ve re-read three times to get it right.  It’s about the marked benefit of very brief running, like 5 minutes.  I like the NY Times health/fitness reporting, because the writing is science-based. They are wary of putting out fluff, and they have the people power to fact check most articles they publish.

This is a huge sample. The Times reports:  “..55,137 healthy men and women ages 18 to 100 who had visited a clinic at least 15 years before the start of the study. Of this group, 24 percent identified themselves as runners, although their typical mileage and pace varied widely. The researchers then checked death records for these adults. In the intervening 15 or so years, almost 3,500 had died, many from heart disease.”

On the surface it seems to good to be true, but I think there’s something for sure to be gained from ramping up one’s own activity level.  It’s not nuts.  What this appears to be is a very brief snapshot of Interval Training, or workout intensity bursts.

Five minutes of increased physical activity is definitely going to hurt, but only for a little while.  This could be a very good fitness deal  (Of course, you have to be cleared by your doctor for this level of intensity)!

I’m in!

Comments?

 

Riding Vermont’s Kindgom Trails

I’m waiting tonight outside the shower at the campground, a phalanx of Boy Scouts jamming up the flush and flow in and out of the two men’s toilets, and single shower stall .

I had a great ride earlier this afternoon, and am very pleased to notch 15 miles of sustained pushing on my Santa Cruz Tallboy, whether it was straining to move upward on the steeps, or trying to keep the bike upright as gravity pulled me down these verdant hills.
Heading Out
What’s going on at the Kingdom Trails is barely controlled survival when I careen downward, at times skidding across lateral roots, the ends of the handlebars grazing past tree trunks.  

From their website, “Kingdom Trails in Northeast Vermont, a multiple-use trail system unlike any other and voted as the BEST MOUNTAIN BIKE TRAIL NETWORK in North America by Bike Magazine in their annual Reader’s Poll. We were the Editors’ Choice in the Yankee Magazine Travel Guide to New England and were also named BEST OF NEW ENGLAND by Boston Magazine Travel & Life. “

I am really pleased that I kept the bike upright all afternoon.  A lot of the success was due to the engineering of the Santa Cruz Tallboy.  To me, the machine is not so much a bike but rather a descending apparatus.  The suspension sucks up big hits on rocks and drops off ledges with a unique mechanical squishing sound.  It’s totally baffling how the bike sustains it’s integrity, ride after ride, week after week, for years. These guys I ride with are not stick boys, or at least most of them aren’t.  They are The Bubbas, who stick it to the trails with authority and confidence.  We don’t break these newer bikes (so much), but we’ve demolished earlier frames and components before bicycles became stronger, and correspondingly much more expensive.

Go Take a Hike! – NYTimes.com

Go Take a Hike! – NYTimes.com.<  Enjoy the hope.

Every once in a while, Nick Kristof, prizewinning journalist takes a long hike, and it’s national news. This time it’s 145 miles in Oregon on the Pacific Crest Trail (PCT).  Kristof’s article calls to mind one of the most piercing quotes of all time, from the Grand Wanderer.

“However mean your life is, meet it and live it; do not shun it and call it hard names. It looks poorest when you are richest.  The fault finder will find faults even in paradise.  Love your life, poor as it is.  You may perhaps have some pleasant, thrilling, glorious hours, even in a poorhouse.  The setting sun is reflected from the windows of the almshouse as brightly as from the rich man’s abode; the snow melts before its door as early in the spring. ”                                                                     -Thoreau

In 2010, on this exact date, I was 1544 miles into hiking the PCT, and in Etna California, about 100 miles south of entering Oregon.

Me entering the Trinity Alps

Me entering the Trinity Alps

Read my Trailjournal entry from that day, echoing my own renewed appreciation for hiking this particular National Scenic Trail.