Back from VT, our next venture into the woods was Cannon Mountain! I wanted to climb something more challenging that would push my endurance and my legs. This would be our final adventure before Mt. Washington, and I had to be sure I could hack it! I just love spending time in the White Mountains, so it was fitting that this would be the last training hike before the biggest one yet. You can easily see Cannon from I-93. Especially in the summer, you can see the outlines of the ski trails and the mountain (comparatively) looks like this grassy knoll where you could picture ‘Heidi’ frolicking in windflowers. Not exactly what the hike was like. Not at all!
Cannon basically goes straight up. Like, very little time to warm your legs up- you’re just moving more and more vertical. The day we hiked, it had recently rained, maybe the day before. And, so, the ground was pretty moist; but, water was also streaming down the hiking path between the large boulders we were trying to get our footing on to power ourselves up the trail. Imagine you’re trying to do step-ups in the field house, but the step you’re using is actually a wet slide. Yup, that’s what this was like. When we started the hike, we were actually pretty chilly. That quickly changed and I began peeling off layers. We would push up the mountain at a race pace, then stop, breathless for a few minutes. Then while resting, a pair of hikers would pass us. We would get inspired to get going again, and we would stumble upon the same hikers gasping for air themselves. This hike felt similar to steadily pushing the sled… Just driving those knees up and pushing through our legs until the burn would just shut us down for a bit.
Now, I had every intention of hiking DOWN the mountain as well. This was in the car on the way up. Training downhill is SO important- in hiking, in running, you name it. The muscle contractions required to control your body through the movement are much more difficult, and this is the place you want to strengthen. Picture for example, doing a bicep curl. It’s the control of the movement down, the eccentric contraction, that really helps to build strength. But….. we also wanted to relax by the little Echo Lake nearby; and, we were already running late to squeeze all of our activities in. Not to mention the fact that we appreciate a good view, and Cannon just so happens to have a gondola ride in the summer that gives you an amazing view of the mountain valley below.
So, did I feel like a big fake buying ride tickets down the mountain so I could avoid the hardest part of my hike (aka: avoid proper, complete training) and lay on a beach instead? Yes. I did. You better believe it was worth it!