Tag Archives: flexibility

Building in Margin

Earth shaking power at Rock Island Falls
Earth shaking power at Rock Island Falls

When I hiked BL (before Loral), hiking was always an athletic event. Alone or with my buddies, I would push the limit of my physical ability doing lots of miles carrying 40-55 pounds. Now hiking with my Honey, we build in margin to allow for beholding beauty and investigation interesting interruptions.

Rock Island adventure—In Rock Island Tennessee there is a park that we now love, not only for the waterfalls but for the memories. We planned to visit three different kinds of waterfall environments and got three memorable interruptions in the package.

At Rock Island on the main overlook below the dam
At Rock Island on the main overlook below the dam

A nursing calf—I was so flexible on this particular soirée that we stopped at the ranger station first. We grabbed a map and listened carefully to the advice our young lady ranger had to offer. Before we got to the first waterfall we passed a cow pasture. My darling got excited because she thought she glimpsed a calf nursing. We pulled over and walked back to where she saw this tender site. I was really enjoying her child like wonder—she had never witnessed a calf nursing. We stood hand in hand looking over a vine covered fence at mama and her baby. The calf would gently head-but her mama’s utter and then drink for a while. This was something normal for me and I really didn’t see it when we drove by.  I mean, I saw a calf nursing but I didn’t see a mama loving her child. We gave quiet homage to God’s glory in creation. We had built in margin.

Powerful earthshaking falls—touched and now eager to see the falls, we finished the winding miles to the biggest falls where the force of the falls shook the ground. We liked this site but it was completely domestic—pedestrian and paved. Without ruining the moment we left for the trail where we could do a few miles and see more falls. Through the trees we could see a spectacular group of cascades on the other side of the river pouring down probably 70 feet into the banks.

Little Falls—almost skipped this one…little sign about little falls on an off shoot trail…glad we didn’t miss it…wet and slippery but unique. Over the top of a small cave ran a little water fall. We explored the cave and took turns looking through a port hole sized opening in the rock on to the forrest below.

Break time on a cliff—About three quarters of the way around the loop trail we were on, my love got more adventurous. Out over the river was an outcropping that just begged us to come sit down for a while. We carefully picked a spot and watched the swilling churning river down below. The beauty came from the power and speed of the river. Had we not built in margin we could not have stopped this long for an inspiring break.

Fog Light restaurant—The third thing our built in margin allowed us to do was to find this new really good restaurant. We weren’t looking for a restaurant…just a bathroom. In the bend of the narrow blacktop there was a sign that said Fog Light. No way this could be a restaurant out here? But it had to be one by the condition and location of the sign. We went to the porch and approached a man using a grill. He turned out the be the chef and owner. He let us use the restroom and invited us back at 5pm when they were open for dinner. He suggested we get there early and boy was it good that we did. We arrived at 4:45 and by 5:00 there were 60 plus people in line behind us. This crowd filled the restaurant instantly when the doors opened and the food was upscale foodie kind of good. With margin built in we were able to eat in a Chicago quality restaurant in the middle of nowhere!

The view from our table at Fog Light
The view from our table at Fog Light

Keep the flow loose we now say. Make plans that include real details and timeframes to satisfy the German in both of us but leave margin for our creative French natures. The level of enjoyment has shot up as we have learned to build in margin.

Do you schedule your day and your fun times so tightly that the least interruption causes you stress? Can you stop for 10 minutes to talk to a neighbor without being late for an important deadline? When you stop and smell the roses does it create stress because you know you “should” be somewhere else? What one thing could you do to build in margin to let a little joy leak in?

For more insights on life and enjoying the interruptions read my wife’s blog—Clive the Cat. She shares what our cat Clive is thinking about human behavior and how his wisdom applies.

Adjusting to an Injury

IMG_2531
Riding up front in our “Gondola”

Injury—Do you have to stop enjoying the outdoors when one of you gets injured? If the injury isn’t completely dibilitating, maybe not. It’s very important to heal and to protect yourself from making it worse; but maybe…just maybe…you can get creative and still have fun.

Frozen shoulder—Our recent injury happened about 6 months ago when out of the blue, my Honey’s right shoulder lost at least half it’s mobility. This came with a significant almost constant pain. At first we backed off of everything because we didn’t know what caused it or how to find healing. After a few unsuccessful attempts to find a solution, we found great care with a long term solution through Dr. Boles at Exodus Chiropractic. While searching for a medical solution, she had the growing awareness that while her should was healing, it was going to hurt no matter what she did. With this attitude in force we started getting creative so we could still have fun outdoors.

Sleeping injured—with a frozen shoulder as “part of the equipment” we picked a tent site where we would not have to carry our supplies too far. This made it easy to haul a dozen blankets to make a really thick mat for sleeping comfort. She didn’t have to carry anything and we could still sleep under the stars in comfort. It is so important to sleep well under healthy conditions but even more so when you are healing.

Gondola Style Kayaking—The next morning, I took my injured bride to a small lake where we put in our two seater kayak. (Well, I guess I should say, My friend Richard helped me put in the kayak and she watched. She will help me again soon.) Eager to see some beauty, my Honey let me lower her into the front seat of the Kayak. I sat in the back and did the paddling. She crossed her legs so that one toe hung in the water and we glided over the glass like surface of the lake hoping for extraordinary sites. We stealthily followed a large Blue Heron from one spot to another and really enjoyed his huge wing span as he flew over our heads. We enjoyed the novelty of watching hornet activity from a safe distance. The nest was bigger than a basket ball and about 40 feet in the air. The sun kissed her face with warmth and the shady spots were welcome too.

Large hornet's next high in the trees
Large hornet’s next high in the trees

If it’s possible, creatively work around your injury and keep drinking in the outdoor experience. It might be just what the doctor ordered.

What is holding you back? Can you adjust your expectations, be creative and still spend happy moments outdoors?

Physically Fit for the Trail?

IMG_20140815_132418511
Running along the dock in Chicago

More tone, more strength, more fun—Imagine dropping your pack to climb down 400 feet into a depression to get to the bottom or a water fall. You take in the cool spray and enjoy the scene. You climb back out when you are ready, put your backpack on again and head down the trail talking and laughing as you go. Now imagine the same detour but your knees hurt as you descend. The sights are pretty but you have to rest for more time than you want to. When you catch your breath, you are dreading the climb out. At the top of the hill you flop down beside you backpack red faced and exhausted. It’s the same detour from the main trail; what was the difference? Your level of fitness! It will determine how much fun you have.

Cardio preparation—I’ve been in both conditions I described above. For a season I ran six days a week doing about 28 miles a week. I could hike anything and go like the energizer bunny. That season is passed for now and my Honey and I have learned that jogging just 20 minutes three times a week makes enough of a difference for us to have a good time on most day hikes. As we look to the future, we want to hike for a week in the Grand Canyon. We will train hard and carefully for that starting at least four months prior.

My first 5K…I know I really like him now
My Honey Says: “My first 5K…I know I really like him now”

Quads are King—My knees used to really hurt on the down hill portions of some hikes and my Baby has some trouble too. After talking to other hikers and runners, I started using an app for legs to strengthen the muscles around my knees. This not only fixed the pain but gave me a lot of power to climb and carry more weight. My Honey is working on hers now too anticipating good results.

Match the trail choices to the level of fitness—Pick a trail that matches where you are now. Please don’t wait. Start with a short day hike on fairly level ground if that is what you can handle now. Perfect fitness never comes so do what you can enjoy and continue to work on your fitness. There is a trail for every fitness season of your life.

Flexibility—stretch and warm up slowly. When I wake up and after a long drive, I am the stiffest. Taking time to get lose is really important to me and my Honey. A cool down time that includes more stretching is needed both after a jog and after a hike.

Be that couple that has a good time and doesn’t get hurt by giving adequate attention to your level of physical fitness.