Archive for ‘hiking’

July 29, 2012

Need for Speed

Am writing this while watching the Olympic hopefuls sail along rainy London streets on their bikes. The women are so fast. I love sports where you go fast, like skiing and biking.

The other day I was riding my bike to work and there was a woman running faster than I was riding on my bike. That was one fast runner.

There’s used to be a myth that only men liked the adrenaline rush of the high-speed chase. But women (and kids) do too. It’s a human instinct to push our physical limits and thrill with the ride. We were born to run.

And now that I’ve admitted my own need for speed, let me post a couple of pictures from my long walk in the Adirondacks.

While I love to run and ride and go fast, it’s easier to snap a pic when you walk and amble and go slow. It’s easier to savor the moment when you slow it all down.

To catch a good photo, you have to pause to frame it. To enjoy a moment, you have to stop and savor it. And any sport that you do outdoors, reminds you to love nature.

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December 11, 2011

Get Outside

My mother raised me following Dr. Spock’s advice that every child must spend at least two hours outdoors, no matter the weather. When my kids were babies, I tried to do this. I tried to “air them out,” as Mom would say, for at least one hour a day. Now that they’re preteens, it’s hard to pull them away from their computers and push them out the door.

“Direct sunshine contains ultraviolet rays, which create vitamin D right in the skin… Changes of air temperature are beneficial in toning up the body’s system for adapting to cold or heat. A bank clerk is much more likely to become chilled staying outdoors in winter than a lumberjack, who is used to such weather. Cool or cold air improves appetite, puts color in the cheeks, and gives more pep to humans of all ages. It’s good for a baby (like anyone else) to get outdoors for 2 to 3 hours a day (!), particularly during the season when the house is heated. … in the northeastern part of the United States, most conscientious parents take it for granted that babies and children should be outdoors 2 or 3 hours a day when it isn’t raining and the temperature isn’t far below freezing.” – Dr.  Spock.

A few months ago at the top of an Adirondack mountain.

I like that the outdoors “gives more pep.” Who doesn’t want more pep?

I must remember Dr. Spock’s admonishment on the occasional Saturday or Sunday when one of my darlings hangs out at home in front of the TV all fricken day.

I will ask her, “Have you gotten outside at all today?”

“No.” I will remind her of the scientific truth, Newton’s Law, that says a body at rest tends to stay at rest and a body in motion tends to stay in motion.

The National Wildlife Federation is bolstering my argument with their new campaign Be Out There. And there’s a ton of research that shows that a child who is connected to the wild is a healthier and happier child.

Hiking, family time, living an active life? This is What We Value. I would like to write more about this, but I have to wake the girls. It’s time for their basketball league, which interferes with church, but that’s a different story! Just for today in the battle between caring for the body and caring for the spirit, the body wins! (We may still get to church, but late!)

October 6, 2011

an upturned tree

Up in the Adirondacks, Sunday morning, I was sipping coffee before my family woke up. I was crabby because I’d have to rally the troops, pack up, leave the country, return to the city, get ready for the week ahead. Even writing in my journal didn’t work the usual magic of lifting my mood.

So I went for a run. I watched the fitness app on my phone, noticing that I was still unable to run faster than a 13-minute mile. Yes, I was in the slow lane; my feet hurt. And I couldn’t get enough breath. I tired easily.

I ran for five minutes, then walked for a minute. Then did that again. The first part of the run was easy. I passed the school house. Then it was wet so I looped around the Cold Spring Road instead of going down to the Stable Inn. I began the walk up the rough-hewn stone steps to the Big House. That’s when I saw this upturned tree.

Hard to capture in a dark, rainy forest, but this wide swath of trees and roots were upturned by Hurricane Irene.

Un-be-liev-able! It took my breath away.

If some special effects geek tried to recreate this 10-foot circumference of a sideways forest floor, it would cost millions of dollars and people would never believe it. But nature did this outstanding damage free of charge. Nature is whack, doing crazy shit. Hurricane Irene must’ve tore up this part of the woods as she tore through Vermont and the Adirondacks a month ago.

I gave up running, walked up the steps back to the house, packed and woke the darlings. I wasn’t crabby any more.

For some reason the extraordinary sight of the upturned tree calmed me down.

Today people are contemplating Steve Jobs’ death. And I’m remembering the upturned tree.

We all will die. I will die. I am small. Whether my death comes by cancer like Steven Jobs, by hurricane like the forest floor, or my personal preference, by old age, I will die. Running away from my troubles on a dreary Sunday morning made me remember that. And it humbled me and made me less crabby.

August 19, 2010

Last week I walked

When I was with all my siblings and their families for our family week in the Adirondacks, I walked miles every morning with my sister in laws, Heidi and Nicole.  Walking is better than running because you can really talk.

We talked about the contagion theory of exercise. I loved this article from the New York Times magazine a year ago…

http://www.nytimes.com/2009/09/13/magazine/13contagion-t.html

Good behaviors — like quitting smoking or staying slender or being happy — pass from friend to friend almost as if they were contagious viruses. The Framingham participants, the data suggested, influenced one another’s health just by socializing. And the same was true of bad behaviors — clusters of friends appeared to “infect” each other with obesity, unhappiness and smoking. Staying healthy isn’t just a matter of your genes and your diet, it seems. Good health is also a product, in part, of your sheer proximity to other healthy people.

So, because I am altruistic (and not at all vain. No, not me), I am walking, running, swimming, doing Yoga and Pilates, for my friends, family, my wider circle. I am not working out for myself. I am doing it for all of you.

Okay, I feel good when I work out too. I’ll admit it — I do it for my own sanity. Last night for some reason, I was in a bit of a funk. I was missing my kids. I wanted to be where they were, but the city is a drag for kids in the summer. After work, I went to the JCC to swim. I told myself, You only have to do eight laps. I have no idea why I always tell myself,  Do eight laps. In any size pool, that’s my goal — eight. It’s manageable. But I did much more than eight. I walked in the pool too, punching the water in front of me, like a crazy aqua aerobics lady. I did 20 sit ups on the side of the pool.

I felt much better.

Exercise is better than anti-depressants. But it takes longer and you have to change clothes when you do it.

June 30, 2010

Country Road

I always walked the same loop in the mornings from my husband’s Big House. It starts with an uphill dirt road, moves to the paved Dudley Road, past the 1812 School House (my graphics of my girls doing headstands is photographed there); down a dirt road, through the field at the Stable Inn, across some brush, along the unpaved Cold Spring Road, through a whisp of a path in an old Cedar woods, across the lawn, and back home. 

“I’m back!” huffing and puffing. Arrived at the Big House. No one missed me, no one knew I was gone.

The path is lovely, if not a bit treacherous. Lots of challenges – the cars on the paved road, the steep downhill to the field, the German Shepherd that barks in front of the seemingly abandoned Stable Inn cottage, the possibility of Poison Ivy in the brush. Not to mention the loose rocks on the uphill horsetrail, the creaking trees about to topple on me in the woods, the spongy wetness of the Big House lawn. 

So I figured this trail, which takes me about 30 minutes to walk, was about 3 miles or so. I don’t know why I thought that. But this weekend, I used the free app that I downloaded and love, Cardio Trainer, and discovered to my utter dismay, the loop is 1.8 miles and it took me (in my run 5 mins./walk 1 min. method) 25 minutes, which the app informed me was about a 14:04 mile pace.

Okay I did stop and chat with the neighbor, Fran, for, I don’t know, maybe two minutes.

It’s just so disappointing. All these years, I thought I was walking for miles only to discover, I’ve not gone as far as I’d thought. At least I’ve overcome all of the above-mentioned obstacles as I walk or run. And for sheer beauty, I don’t think you can beat it. There must be a lesson in this. Enjoy the beauty; pay no mind to your app. Keep running. Keep walking.

March 21, 2010

Walking in New Jersey with Babies

I know I should be running. There’s really nothing like running. The only thing remotely like running is walking.

Yesterday Barbara and I drove with my sleepy daughters to visit Mandy and her baby in Summit, New Jersey. We sat in the sunny suburbs. We  pored over the school auction catalog.  (Last night was the big fundraiser. Spent too much).

Then we walked in a public park. Morris County Park. Maybe it was half a mile there and back — past a stream, past dog walkers and curled-up caterpillars. We had to step off the path when little tyke bike riders rode by.  The girls bickered. Then held my hand. Mandy’s funny husband, KC, pushed the stroller. Baby Nathaniel wore a baseball cap.

It was absolutely idyllic. We stopped near a playground. We chatted at a picnic table.

The thing about walking that’s better than running is you can talk to several people at once. When you run, you can only talk to one person. But when you walk you can spread yourself around. Or you can talk to no one. You can stare at the teeny tiny shoots of green emerging from the dead leaves. And you can marvel at the miracle of it all.

The miracle of growth. Of that new baby growing into some big kid. Impossible to arrest the march of growth (in March!). My little kid was once that little baby in the stroller.

I miss the baby days. I love babies. Their silliness, chubbiness, simplicity. The way they have no subtext. They feel something, even gas, they express it. They do not censor themselves. I love my grown-up kids. Their witty remarks, their athleticism. But I miss their snuggly baby days. I try to hang on to them as long as possible. I still baby them.

I was a bit depressed  on Friday, having to write about Haiti —  the incredible sadness of losing my coworkers in Haiti. And then worries over Chris’s inevitable decline with Parkinson’s. But then, I see a baby, or feel the sun, or one of my kids hugs me tight, or I walk or ride my bike, or yes, I  run. Or like on Friday, I ducked into a NYC museum and see great art. And I feel better.

These fixes are non-pharmaceutical cures for whatever ails me. Take two walks in the park and call me in the morning. Tell me if you don’t feel the same way. Feel some inevitable March of growth.

January 26, 2010

Riverside Park Walk

I walked from 75th and Riverside to 116th and Riverside to pick up one of my daughters from a sleepover.

As I walked, listening to Britney Spears, there was an aroma. An amazing scent that filled the air and practically made me cry. Pine trees. Christmas. Little woodchips made from yours and my Christmas trees in New York City.

To smell this mulch on the side of the hills along Riverside Park. It made the walk so worth it. It began to rain. I didn’t care. The smell grew stronger. I love the way New York City recycles Christmas trees and helps other trees.

Also, at the end of the walk, I saw this guy (I’m trying to post the video to show you but I just practically crashed the computer. I’m not a techie!). It was of a guy rollerblading down a metal railing. People are risky and talented and amazing. A walk in New York always leads to some kind of crazy serendipity.

December 7, 2009

Adirondacks Revisited

I ran with Hayden on the newly-paved Camp Dudley Road past the school house. We ran down towards the Stable Inn.

The field of wildflowers was all gone.

The best part of the run was the several dozen woodpeckers – small, fluffy, industrious – in a flock on the spindley trees of Lake Shore Road. One dive-bombed us, letting us know, “This is our world! Beat it! Aren’t you city folk? Get on back to your city!”

We did. Or at least walked back up to our house. We walked up the Old Dug Road.

Our toes got wet. After all, when you run through a field where wildflowers once grew and woodpeckers now rule, you are going to have to pay. It is a small price in discomort but there is a big pay off too.

The pay off is in knowing that there are places in this world that are not ruled by humans, there are places where woodpeckers rule.

September 1, 2009

Rattlesnake Mountain

We hiked Rattlesnake.

Maybe a fourth of the way up, Charlotte discovered a shedded snake skin stuck to the trunk of a toppled tree. Hayden peeled it up, like a nametag off a suit jacket. He made us all touch it. So yuck.

We arrived at the parking pull-off around noon and I think it was about 3:25 when we returned. Or else it was 3:52. I’m fairly beat now. And will likely feel it tomorrow.

In terms of endorphins, I think I hit them about 20 minutes into the hike on the way down. I was by myself. I felt a rush of well being as I watched my kids holding hands in a tunnel of light ahead of me. You know the kind of yellow light in the middle of green trees on a late summer day. Very nice. Very Hansel and Gretel. Heartwarming.

But then a stick and leaves were thrown. The girls broke into a fight. Catherine threw some kind of handful of seeds or leaves at Charlotte, to make it look like it was raining. And Charlotte took offense, said something nasty like “You touch yourself!” And Catherine said, “I was only making you look pretty.” And Charlotte said, “Without that stuff falling on me, you’re saying I”m not pretty?” in that kind of head-wagging way.

The endorphin buzz was lost somewhere in there.

But that’s what I get, hiking with 9-year old twins, a 12 year old, a 5 year old (Izzy, Kristen’s daughter), a 30-something year old, (Ben, Kristen’s boyfriend) and the husband with Parkinson’s.

I worried that the climb would be too difficult for Chris and Izy. But Izzy was only carried briefly on Ben’s shoulders.

Chris managed pretty well. Unlike our hike up Coon Mountain last week, when he was nearly last at the end of the hike, Chris, this time,  finished towards the front. With the help of a walking stick. And grit.