Writing time got away from me for a bit, but I’m back to tell you about my final hikes before hiking Mt. Washington this summer! At this point (July) , we had one month left to prep for our biggest feat of all! (Although, I was still pretty pooped from the 10k the weekend before.) With such good weather, and beach days temping us to the shore on the weekends, we (I) had to stay focused. We had spent a weekend in Vermont last fall, so I was hoping to get to VT again for a hike in our preparation to spread the New England love. Some of the bigger mountains were a little further away than we were willing to do in a day-trip, and I wanted to start to build our hikes with more endurance. After some research online and in my hiking books, I came across Mt. Ascutney. At 3, 144 feet, this was a slightly higher peak with 2,060ft to gain in elevation. If you go here, a warning, there is parking, but it is TIGHT! Somehow we lucked-out just as another hiker was leaving to snag a spot. We took the Weathersfield Trail, which was a little confusing as it rolls through the woods, ascending and descending a bit before working up the mountain. But, what goes down, must come up- and we did! The trail brought us to an awesome platform view, which is used for hang gliding off the mountain (crazy people!). I can see how it would work though, as it was quite windy at that spot. It really offered an amazing view.
The summit, however, was a bit anti-climatic with some cell phone towers, blah. It’s always a little disheartening to see mankind’s footprint up a mountain peak. However, there is an additional spot with a fire tower and even more AMAZING panoramic views of the Connecticut River Valley; and, on each side of the tower’s platform, there is a display map which depicts the mountains in viewing range. I really appreciated that as I always wonder what exactly I’m seeing when scoping out such rewarding views!
And that’s just it, isn’t it? The reward. I don’t usually think, “ohh I love when my thighs burn trying to propel me uphill and I may collapse of cramping, so that’s why I hike,” (or do anything for that matter)! But, there really is a chemical release when we exercise, and for me, when the weather allows, experiencing that feeling in the outdoors is wonderful. There’s also that sense of pleasure and reward from accomplishment. In the same way a dog wags its tail when you say, “Good Boyyyy,” you can tell yourself that YOU did good too! Follow those endorphins up with panoramic New England views, whelp, I’m not sure there’s a better moment for Zen and spirituality. You need to find what makes you tick, what makes you feel happy and rewarded, and healthier in mind and body for the effort. Maybe it’s a full walk around Castle Island, maybe it’s feeling ready to join us in an ERG, or nail ‘downward dog’ in Yoga- it can be anything that is your personal challenge. This is just the story of mine.
We really do get only one shot at a healthy body (and your body is an incredible thing mind you), and a happy life- sadly mozzarella sticks don’t lead us down the path to achieve this (although it may feel like it at the time…no)! However, a trail in the woods or a routine at the gym just might!