Saturday, September 13, 2014

Gearing up for a three-day, 30-mile hiking challenge

Yesterday, as I was sitting at the White Rocks Overlook in the Bull Run Mountains - an outlier ridge of the Blue Ridge Mountains in Northern Virginia - I took some time to reflect on my goals. It is disappointing that I started this blog in 2011 with the intention of completing merit badges I'd not had the opportunity to complete as a kid, and to date I've made progress but haven't completed a single one! That's gotta change. That will change! I am more determined than ever.

Being a Boy Scouts dropout was not in my control when I was a teen - lots of factors made it impossible for me to pursue my goal of becoming an Eagle Scout, the most prominent being not having an older male mentor and feeling excluded due to being different from the other scouts in my troop. But as an adult, I know that it is my decisions, and not the conditions of my life, that determine my destiny. So if I fail to accomplish what I set out to do now, it is my own fault, and I can blame no one but myself.

Reflecting on goals, watching hawk migration from Bull Run Mountains
That being said, I have been conditioning this summer to complete my final 20-mile hike as part of earning the Hiking merit badge. Unfortunately, problems with my left foot and ankle - the result of an injury while hiking Mt. Tammany at the Delaware Water Gap last fall - have precluded me from hiking long distances. I have only been able to hike up to 10 miles at a time before my body just gives out on me. So here's what I'm thinking. Instead of giving up on my goals, I am going to re-invision them. I will remain true to the spirit of the 20-mile hike goal, but I'm going to create a plan that works for me given what my body is physically capable of.

This is my plan. Instead of doing 20 miles in one day, I will plan to hike 30 miles over the course of three consecutive days. This is still going above and beyond what I've ever done before, challenging myself in an equal nature to the way hiking 20 miles in one day would challenge me, but giving my body rest intervals to recharge and not do more damage to my weakened frame.

I will plan to do a 12 mile hike on day one, followed by a 10 mile hike on day two and an eight mile hike on day three. The 12-mile hike and the 10-mile hike will be hikes with little elevation gain. But the third and final hike will be a hike with some significant elevation - Old Rag Mountain. It will push me beyond what I believe myself to be capable of, but because I am conditioning to prepare for this three day challenge, I know I will be able to handle it.

My goal is to complete this challenge the end of October 2014. Since I have already completed every other challenge set forth in the Hiking book in the Boy Scouts of America Merit Badge Series, once I complete this three-day, 30-mile challenge I will consider my hiking merit badge to be complete.

Meanwhile, I will also begin working on the Geology Merit Badge. This week I am reading through the manual and setting up an interview with a local geologist to interview and do a profile on him for my blogs.