Plants First, Fish Next

The original intent of this journal was to chronicle the trials and tribulations of the struggling twenty-something, as I searched for love and happiness in the small city-burb of ManchVegas, NH. Now, I'm thirty-something, I've found love in many forms, happiness in even more, and now the struggle is just... well... life. And finding time to do the million and one things I want to do- including writing.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

A Walk in the Woods

Saturday I went on a brief hike in Fox Forest with My Runner and our friends the Strongs.  The Strongs are hiking the Long Trail in VT for 30 days this summer, so we're testing new gear and getting some miles in together.  My Runner and I will be hiking in a bit here and there during their trip.

It was rainy and much colder than it's been the last few weeks, but I was so happy to be outside it didn't matter.  Well, proper rain gear and the absence of a pack helped.  The Strongs brought their dachshund Seamus, who was pretty rugged for the 5 mile hike in the rain.  My Runner had started cleaning up some of the trails in Fox (ok, I helped a *little*), and it was very obvious what was worked on and what still needs work. 

Ridge Trail in Fox Forest

The Strongs are a great couple.  My Runner and Mr. Strong met in college and have been friends since.  Both Mr. & Mrs. Strong are athletic, mainly backpacking and doing yoga.  They work in high-stress jobs in the high-stress state of Massachusetts, so the fact that they're very laid back people with open minds and hearts is even more amazing.  Spending the morning hiking with them gave me great joy.

Being the busy social bee I am, that afternoon I drove to northern NH for a reunion of an outdoor adventure class I took as a senior in High School.  This is the course that gave me the (small amount of) knowhow and confidence to do things like backpacking, hiking, and other outdoor activities.  It was great to see people I had such intense experiences with over ten years ago, and how much we still had in common.  It was also great to see Coach, our teacher, again.  Coach MADE this class.  Literally and figuratively.  He still teaches in, in a slightly different form at a different school, but the class is by him and will likely die when he retires.  You could call it a cult of personality, but I think it's his sheer drive and love for what he does.  Not just outdoor education, but self-education.  I learned more about me, about what I can do and accomplish, about my limits and the limitations I put on myself, in that one class in one year than I had the first 18 years of my life.  And I was happy to get the chance to tell Coach that, even at (almost) 30 I still feel the effects of his coaching every day.

Group Photo. Coach is the tall guy in the back

Back to Hillsboro where My Runner and the Strongs were partying down.  The next morning hailed a race: the Muddy Moose.  For me and Mr. Strong, a 4 miler.  For My Runner and Puma Girl, 14 miles.  Mrs. Strong piped up during the partying-down, "I could run the 14 miler."  HELLS YEAH was the unanimous response, even though she had never run more than 7 miles.  We all went to bed too late and with too much beer in our bellies.

The next morning arrived EARLY.  The clouds were still hanging low, but the temps were warmer than the predicted 30's and 40's; thank goodness for small blessings.  We loaded into the cars four an hour plus drive to the muddiest trails I've seen.

Running 4 miles felt like 10 on these trails.  You could run extra lengths and bushwhack through the trees to avoid the mud and puddles, or you could dive right in and hope you don't turn your ankle on a hidden rock or stump.  Either way you were gonna get wet and dirty.  I chose for option number 2 most of the time, but boy does that take a LOT of energy.  Each foot had an extra pound or so from sand and water.  You never know how deep you're gonna go, so you land harder on every step.  You're constantly ready to loose your balance, so all your stabilizer muscles are on alert.  I've never had more fun on a race!  I wish I hadn't been nursing an ankle, I totally would have gone for the 14 miler (and probably died in the process, but died smiling!)

Playing in the mud

Mrs. Strong DID do the 14, and kicked it's muddy ass!

Mrs. Strong, living up to her name

After the race, changing into dry socks, shoes, and clothes, we headed back to Hillsboro for some hearty food, kitty snuggling, and quality couch time.  That's the other benefit of being a runner- couch time is *restorative,* and therefore totally acceptable.  :-)

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