Pushing Past the Pain of Exertion

From yesterday’s New York Times:  http://www.nytimes.com/2009/10/29/fashion/29FITNESS.html

Chrissie Wellington of Britain

I had my first visit with my new physician this past week.  It was a sign of the times.  I have been fortunate enough to have had just one doctor, Richard Kahn, M.D. since moving to Maine in 1973.  It has been 36 years of excellent care, from a man who was one of the first in our area to ride his own bicycle bike to work from his home in Union some fifteen miles out.  He sold his practice to Dr. Anderson, and she will be fine. She had been practicing way up in Aroostook County for the past two years.   She read my chart with me, to be sure she hadn’t missed anything.  I was thrilled when she started asking me about my 2007 Appalachian Trail through hike, when she disclosed that she and her husband were avid day hikers and also backpackers.  We learned that shared some trail experiences in Yellowstone as well.

She is an osteopathic physician, and after deciding that my blood work did not indicate any serious problems, encouraged me to schedule my next appointment sometime next Fall after I ( hopefully) return from my 5- 6 month, 2,700 mile Pacific Crest Trail  backpacking expedition, where we could recheck those numbers.

Then we talked pain, something I have been increasingly familiar with.  I consulted about putting together a backup medical kit that would prepare me for any emergencies.  I  did hear her when she made the observation that pain is often a signal to the body that something is wrong and that stopping may be the best solution, rather than to dose pain with analgesics or stronger ( opiates) and push through  to some preset goal.

Then this article came out and it assisted me in placing pain into  a better perspective.

Endurance athletics exposes one to eventual pain.  It is important to train for the ability to sustain exertional pain, while at the same time accepting that the acute pain of an injury, such as  shin splints, a broken metatarsal bone,  or a bad back is a message from the body to stop for a while and heal.


Yellowstone: Walking !


We decided to head on over to Yellowstone today in the hope that the snow would not be too deep for hiking.  Plan B was to drive east past Mammoth Hot Springs and cruise through the Lamar Valley hoping to see big animals, like buffalo, elk, and bears.  An inquiry with the ranger at the North entrance at Gardiner resulted in advice to head on over to the Lost Lake Loop.  We were looking for a 2 hour hike that was in an area that would be out of the wind, as much as possible.

Lost lake Loop–Roundtrip Distance: 4.0 miles (6.4 km)

Time: 2-3 hours

Level of Difficulty: Moderate

The trail starts behind Roosevelt Lodge and climbed through forested hillsides to a trail junction. Veering right (west), the trail reached Lost Lake in 0.2 miles (0.3) km.). From there we followed the trail around a hill to the Petrified Tree and Petrified Tree parking area. The trail left that parking lot at the northeast corner and continued through open sage hill tops and then descended to the Tower Ranger Station. Roosevelt Lodge was only  a 0.2 mile (0.3 km. walk from the Ranger Station.

The most treacherous portion of the hike was negotiating the ice between stepping out of the car and  our arrival at the top of the 360 foot elevation portion of the switchbacked trail.  There was plenty of ice in the streams that passed under the trail.  Once we hit the end of the firstclimb, things got much better:  the sun came out, the trail was more trodden, and it was actually  warm as we approached Lost Lake.

Lost Lake
Lost Lake

Soon we skirted the Lake, and felt like we could do this.

Walking along Lost Lake
Walking along Lost Lake

Eventually we left the Lake and entered a valley that swung us in a loop past high hills on either side.  Here the wind picked up again, the cold came on strong, and I put my new cowboy bandana across my face for protection.  We had to go up again for just a short bit, then entered a beautiful expanded area that eventually brought us back down to the car.

Uncle Tom at end of Lost Lake Loop
Uncle Tom at end of Lost Lake Loop

Checking our watches, we saw that we completed the 4 mile loop in just 1 hour.  We were able to slide and trot down the last mile long descent, which was the major factor in our scooting right along.

On the way back, we saw two bald eagles, one huge buffalo walking along the road, and numerous elk and bufalloes in the scrub brush and fields feeding on the dry frozen grasses.

The magic of the day did not end.  Our evening stop was at Chico Hot Springs, where we were able to soak in the heated pools for a hour and then we we were all salivating at the door for our 7 PM reservation, primed for prime. Actually , Lincoln was the only one who had the 12 oz. prime rib.  I had the 8 oz. tenderloin with gorgonzola, Marcia had a strip steak, and Stephanie the rack of lamb.  Three of us maintained our good standing in the clean plate club.   Chico and Yellowstone is a double punch duo that is easily accomplished from our base in Livingston.  Loved it today!

Montana: Strike Two!

Montana Road
Montana Road

Thawing out tonight.

Lincoln and I were thwarted in our quest to climb up Elephant Peak, MT this afternoon, due to 18 degrees, 12 MPH wind, and the snow on the gravel road too deep to reach that trail head. We did walk along the plains for an hour. I ending up freakin’ freezing.

I had on three layers on top: Ibex wool  t-shirt, Patagonia Wool II midweight zip crew, and North Face 7 Summit softshell.  My Ibex winter gloves were a joke, as my hands were painfully cold walking back to the truck, and in agony as they thawed out in the heated cab.  It’s full blown winter conditions here.

Paradise (Valley)? No backpacking this week!

Went for a 7 mile, two hour walk this afternoon along the Yellowstone River, here in Montana.

Yellowstone River
Yellowstone River

My hands froze inside my winter gloves and the footpath alternated between slippery clay , squishy ruts and solid ground that was actually frozen mud. Nevertheless, it was totally satisfying to walk in this huge landscape, with views off to the south of Livingston Peak. It is likely that the watercourse of River had not changed in any appreciable way since the Lewis and Clark expedition came ashore here below Sheep Mountain. Clark and his party stopped in present-day Livingston for a few hours rest on their way through here.
I had a list of outdoor things I wanted to do here that are not going to happen, due to the weather:
-mountain bike ride
-off road motorcycle ride
-overnight backpack trip in Yellowstone
-climb Bunsen Peak in Yellowstone

There is now  two and half feet of snow in the mountains that has accumulated since October 1. The weather here is comparable to what they experience here in January, with the temperature dropping to 3 degrees tonight.  Whaaa?

Montana is a trip .  The front page  of the newspaper has advertising about  game processing.

Front Page News
Front Page News

Instead of recycling, at the dump glass is stashed in a pile that is ground up and mix in with landfill.

Recycling?  Naahhh!
Recycling? Naahhh!

I like the smaller footprint of the houses here, and what can be better than walking out the door in the morning,  head two blocks over to the local convenience store where I can get a hot cup of coffee and purchase daily newspapers.