My Perspective: The DEH (Diablo Endurance Hike)

photo_1By Joe Wilder

Today I awoke, excited to hike with SAR teammates. The weather was perfect and my spirits high. By 8 a.m., we had congregated and exchanged pleasantries. With packs weighed, we were off.

The crisp morning air filled my lungs with oxygen, welcoming us to the great outdoors. I began in fourth position, blissfully unaware of the slice of humble pie I was about to be served.

After 25 minutes, I felt at the top of my game; my muscles were loose, my lungs expanded, and my body was in a rhythm. A song entered my head, and my boots fell to the ground in a marching beat. 

Twenty-five minutes into the hike, I felt the beginnings of a blister forming and quickly fell back to number eight. Dropping my backpack, I removed the offending boot and abrasive socks, and searched for moleskin. Before I could locate my supply, a fellow teammate had handed me some from his personal stash (thank you!). After dressing my would-be wound and donning the detested boots, I was again continuing the ascent.

The first milestone
At the fire road crossing, I managed to regain a few positions. The wind howled from the southwest as I traversed the exposed ridge leading to the backside approach of the peak. The weather had turned from pleasant to cold and overcast and I considered stopping to dig out a jacket, but decided I had wasted enough time. My sweat-soaked shirt clung to me with freezing perspiration. I used the coldness to motivate myself to push harder and faster. Ignoring the blister pain, I climbed on, relishing the relief of flat or downward sections.

On the backside of the peak, I was grateful to be sheltered from wind, but the quiet calm quickly evaporated as I began ascending the opposing exposure. There I was met with cold wind and the occasional freezing droplets of water that might have been rainfall or moisture blown from tree limbs.

Upon reaching the summit road, my legs begged for a break, my heart thumped and my lungs protested. My mind was full of regret – not for hiking that day, but for not training.

As I made the final ascent, my thighs knotted up, first one, then the other. I rubbed and punched at them as I hiked. I willed them to stay loose despite the cold – my adversary. I continued climbing as team members zoomed by on their descent. The joy on their faces could not be contained, the toughest part of the day behind them.

I smiled, said hello, but on the inside I was mad – mad at myself for not keeping up, for not properly training, for dropping the ball, for letting my physical fitness stoop to such a level. I used this self-chastisement to propel me to the top.

At the summit
The peak was shrouded in cloud as the rain began to fall and wind picked up. Finally, I released the straps of my backpack and it fell to the cold, wet pavement. I slapped the rock building. I was thrilled to have the climbing behind me, but soon found that the downhill was even more torturous on my seizing legs. On the backside, I found a small patch of grass and fell to the ground. My legs screamed in agony and I contorted, giving rise to the saying “hurt so good.” While I stretched, I slipped into last place.

Consulting my watch, I willed my legs to continue to the single-track section where poison oak reached out with the kiss of agony. With each tug of my shirt or brush of the hat, I instinctively pivoted to determine if the offensive plant had made contact.

The temperature climbed as the sun broke through the clouds and moisture on the surrounding foliage began to evaporate. Flies and bees buzzed nearby. The sudden warm humidity was reminiscent of hiking the tropics, so I fantasized as I continued. 

Last place
The muscles in my legs quivered, threatening to give up. I forced my mind to ignore the protest. Every 30 seconds, I referenced my watch. There was plenty of time if I kept moving, but I couldn’t afford any more breaks, or allow my legs to quit.

My spirit lifted and pace quickened upon the sight of the eucalyptus trees marking the trailhead. I fired my after-burners with thoughts of an Epsom salt bath and an ice-cold beverage.

Finally, I passed through the gates, wishing there was a ribbon to break or spraying milk. My bag and boots were off before anyone had a chance to say hello. Under my socks, the blister was now a bloody mess.

Driving home, I contemplated the day’s events, not sure what hurt more, my legs or my pride. 

Forget about the DEH (Diablo Endurance Hike); we should rename this the DRC (Diablo Reality Check).

Fitness For Hiking

By Jeremiah Dees

Intro – Approach/Effective Practices
Learn to move well before trying to go hard, otherwise you should expect to get good at moving poorly.  There are a lot of parts to this.  Successful people take it one thing at a time, so that's what we're going to do.  
So the annual fitness hike is right around the corner, and despite your best intentions, it seems that fitness has been sneaking away from you. Unfortunately, fitness is not free. Deep down you know that you are better than what’s taken place.  It’s just been really hard keeping up lately, hasn’t it?
The good news is that it’s not difficult to turn things around. It only requires taking one or two small steps each day and you might be surprised to know that your body is begging you to cross this threshold. Successful people thrive on the continuous feed of personal growth and discovery that follows daily acts of commitment to themselves.
Ready to get started?  Great!
But first, a little housekeeping:
In each of the next four issues of the Callout, I’ll provide you with a routine and a little bit of education that addresses a part of recapturing your health and developing your fitness. These are general recommended abilities that nearly everyone should develop at some point in their life. (If you have recently been injured or are under the care of a medical professional, including taking medication, then I would advise consulting with your care provider before becoming much more physically active.)
Next, let’s set a mindset for success:
Making an effort every day is much more important than getting it perfect,  and when you miss a day, there is no need to feel vexed.  We become what we put our energy into.  From now on you have my permission to wipe the slate clean.  Yesterday does not matter.  Ask yourself, “What am I going to do today to get closer to my goals?”
It is easy to get distracted as there is a lot of misinformation out there surrounding health and fitness.  You are an organism (not a machine) and a person (not a game show contestant).  Change takes a little bit of time to feel.  So stay focused on what you are doing now.  Give your efforts a chance to grow.  I can assure you that every effort you make triggers positive (anabolic) changes inside.  
What anyone else can do shouldn’t have any relation to where you feel your performance should be. Dump the fixed mindset and embrace a growth mindset. Look at yourself in the mirror and ask yourself “What am I going to do today to get closer to my goals?”
When trying new things it is important to distinguish between pain and discomfort.  If you experience pain and feel that an activity is hurting you, then either alter the activity or don’t do it.  Discomfort, on the other hand, should be expected. Attempting activities never done before should feel foreign for awhile, maybe even a little uncomfortable.
Today’s Lesson:
Learn to move well before trying to go hard or far; otherwise you should expect to get good at moving poorly. You don’t want to earn yourself the long-term consequences of having dysfunctional movement patterns (aka your physical habits).
There are a lot of components to moving well.  For now we are going to address the most common insult to a human’s capacity: mobility limitation.  And for that, we are going to introduce foam rolling.  
Foam rolling is an effective way to start any exercise session.  It takes only 5 to 10 minutes to hit all areas of the body.  Your aim is to roll over each area slowly just until the muscles release.  If a muscle feels very intense at one spot, then sit on it until the intensity begins to dull.  
Follow this with a slow roll back and forth, repeated 6 to 12 times before moving on.  Adjust your positioning to control pressure. On your tender bits, shoot for 6 to 7 on a scale of 10 discomfort without triggering guarding mechanisms.  You might have to lean against a wall (rather than lay on it) to accomplish this.  The following pictures demonstrate the routine.
I recommend rolling sensitive areas once in the morning and again before bed every night.  You can expect noticeable improvements in mobility immediately, and every week limitations should diminish.


Recommended Hike: Surprised by Goldfish

Mt. Diablo/Burma Road to the summit

By Patrick Walker

There are plenty of trails that lead to the summit of Mt. Diablo, but if you are looking for a beautiful and strenuous hike, this one is for you.

Start by driving approximately 2.5 miles up Northgate Road past the gate to enter the state park. If you see a huge hill with a trail straight up it, you are at the right place. Start heading up the hill on Burma Road Trail.

Once you reach the top of the hill, keep going straight onto Angel Kerley Road Trail. You will come upon some trees with a small trail just past them leading to the left; take this trail (Mothers Trail).

After some steep switchbacks you reach a goldfish pond. (Yes, it's full of goldfish. Don't ask why.) Continue on up the trail and you'll eventually reach Deer Flat Road Trail, which leads you straight to Juniper Campground.

Find the summit trail and you'll be at the top of Mt. Diablo in no time!

 Miles: 4.25
 Elevation Gain: Approx. 3,000 feet
 Time: Less than 3 hours
 Difficulty: Medium

Have a favorite hike? Tell the team about it. Send your ideas to the Callout staff.