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Hiking/Health Update

North_Mtn_Shaw_Butte_Preserve
w00t! Made it to the top of the mountain for the FOURTH time this week!

When I described this hike on April 14, I imagined I was clambering up North Mountain. That’s because SDXB and I have perennially confused North Mountain with Shaw Butte all these years. In fact, the trail I pictured and described in that post goes up Shaw Butte, a slightly higher promontory with an interesting history.

The Shaw Butte trail (about 2150 feet in elevation) can be accessed from several trailheads on the south and the north sides. From Central Avenue site, the round-trip hike is said to be about 5 miles (uh-huh…I’ll believe that when I see someone’s pedometer reading…I’d put it at about 3 or 3½ miles RT, but whatever…). You can get to it from the expensive-looking Seventh Street Visitor’s Center by following a trail that goes around and over the flood dam and intersects the upward-bound trail just above the dinky Central Avenue parking lot; I’d guess that trail is…ohhh…about a half-mile.

Yesterday, by peering off the side of the mountain, whence I had hiked from the Central Avenue parking lot on the north side of the hills, I figured out that a side trail probably led to the Visitor’s Center or someplace close to it.

So today I parked at the Visitor’s Center, which has a much more generous parking lot (I can park easily in the Central Avenue parking lot by taking advantage of my crip-space hanger, but…it’s a little embarrassing to park in a disabled space and then go bounding up the side of a mountain….) (I don’t use the crip space hanger unless a parking lot is practically empty, except when I’m in Tempe, where ASU commits a version of piracy in the public parking department) (and even in near-empty lots I rarely use it, because one of my eccentricities is a preference for parking on the far end of a lot by way of a) getting some exercise and b) parking my car in the shade).

(CHALLENGE: How many parenthetical asides can YOU cram into a single sentence?) 😀

Sh!t…where was I? I lost track…

Yeah, on the side of the mountain. Today’s trek was the fourth hike up the mountain since last Friday. I’d intended to do it tomorrow and make today’s exercise either a hike on the flat or a long bicycle ride, but one of my clients wanted to meet as dawn cracks tomorrow morning. It’s supposed to hit 90 degrees tomorrow, so I knew that by the time I shovel him out the door, it’ll be way too late for a journey up the side of a half-mile-high hill.

Saturday is the endlessly anticipated Oak Creek hike, the motivation for six weeks of physical therapy and all this mad conditioning-motivated hiking. The planned Friday conditioning hike obviated by the client’s demand, I decided to move it forward to today. That will make Friday into a day of relative rest (biking or canal-hiking planned for after the guy leaves tomorrow). This (a vigorous hike + a day of relative peace + vigorous hike + peace) is best, I’ve found, for building stamina.

So it was off to the Seventh Avenue Visitor’s Center as soon as I escaped from this morning’s wee-hours meeting of the Scottsdale Business Association.

It was late when I started, as in too goddamn hot to be climbing around: well after noon by the time I got back to the car. That notwithstanding, though, I reached the top with only four stops to gasp for breath. The first time up, honest to Gawd, I think I stopped to huff and puff about every twenty steps!

Useta be that when I would get out of shape, it would take three, count’em (3), trips up the mountain to reach the stage where I could hike all the way to the summit without stopping. Now that I’m old, however, I figure about six would be more like it. So far, I seem to be on target: this week I’ve made four trips up there. Hmm. Surely by next Friday, assuming I make three trips next week, I should reach the top without a pause.

Let’s pretend that the five-mile figure is correct (though I doubt it). I’ve been up the mountain four times this week: that’s 20 miles. And I’ve made two hikes on the flat of maybe a mile and a half apiece. Sooo…what do we have? Twenty-three miles? NOT FREAKING BAD, for an old bat pushing 70! (no, we do not mean 70 mph…)

IMHO, the distance up the side of Shaw Butte is more like three miles. So, if I could go up there three days a week and then walk the flat or the canal another three days a week (choir will obviate much outdoor activity now that the weather’s getting hot), that would give us…what?

3 three-mile uphill hikes = 9 miles/week
3 one-and-a-half flat hikes = 4.5 miles/ week
Total hill plus flat =13.5 miles/week

Well. That’s thirteen and a half more miles than the distance between the computer and the refrigerator.

I sure do feel a lot better. The cardiologist-doc was right in saying that a stint of sustained vigorous exercise brings a quick end to the anxiety attacks. Not only that, but the back pain is now almost 100% gone, with the exception of an occasional very mild twinge.

This is good. Very, very good.

Image: North Mountain and Shaw Butte Preserves. Jstuby at en.wikipedia. Creative Commons CC0 1.0 Universal Public Domain Dedication.

6 thoughts on “Hiking/Health Update”

  1. Speaking of SDXB…how is he doing. I seem to recall the last time you mentioned him he had some real health challenges. I also recall you describing this gentleman as someone who did not let a job identify who he was but rather was a means to an end. I commend him….and you as well…. “Mountain climbing” at any age is an adventure let alone someone with their own set of unique challenges. Glad to hear the “therapy” is working…

    • He is well. He recovered swimmingly from the bypass surgery. More recently, his sciatica reached a pitch of pain that he could no longer tolerate, and so he went to a specialist and had back surgery. Astonishingly, this sometimes questionable procedure also seems to have worked — he says the pain is much better and he’s now able to walk pretty much normally.

      He and New Girlfriend took off for a driving junket through California. You have to understand how amazing this is: SDXB absolutely positively HATES driving trips. And he’s suspicious of California, the land of liberals, vegetarians, and gays. I take this as a measure of his infatuation with the amazing N.G., because he would never allow himself to be talked into any such thing if he weren’t in love. 😀

      In the face of mortality, N.G. has persuaded him to part with some of his beloved money to go on actual normal vacations: they’ve gone on cruises (!), stayed in hotels and motels (!!), and even eaten in restaurants (!!!) together. Interestingly, he has not talked her into his usual interminable camping trips. Nor, I note, does she end up staying in NCO barracks or FamCamps while on the road with him. These are excellent developments, because it means she’s talked him into engaging a whole new set of experiences.

  2. I’m not the sort of person that enjoys “working out” per se, but I always feel so much more centered and calm after a good bout of running or pilates or hiking or swimming or whatever. I’ve been stepping up my own exercise routine for health reasons actually… been having trouble sleeping lately.

  3. That’s great. I need to get my butt in gear but so far it’s been mostly cold and we’ve had two weeks in a row now with 3-4″ of rain so the ground is pretty well soaked through.

    That’s a great accomplishment!

  4. Excellent post! My Ex-father-in-law, despite his many many flaws, maintained one true opinion: if you stop walking, you die.

    What footwear are you using? In my 40’s I finally bowed to the fact that my feet are flat as pancakes and went for extremely expensive orthotics (partially covered by work benefits, thank God) and committed to replacing my shoes on a regular basis, instead of wearing them down to shreds. Through my 50’s I see my shoe budget skyrocket, as I finally start appreciating the benefits of proper boots and training shoes.

    I see far too many people (esp. women) trying to do the right thing by getting out and walking, but wearing the cheapest and worst shoes – ballet flats, $5 Chinese sneakers, and – the mark of true cultural decline – flip-flops. Makes me want to invest in knee-replacement clinics cuz their future is guaranteed!

    • LOL! I’ll have to tell you some of the stupid things I see on the mountain. It’s no wonder the fire dept has to charge or fly up there several times a season to haul some of these folks down.

      I bought a new pair of Merrells from Amazon, after having tried them on in a b&m store — unethical, no doubt, but it made the boots marginally affordable. I also liked the Keen boot and their walking shoe, but unfortunately neither model was comfortable where those round bones right above the ankle jut out.

      I prefer ventilated boots that come up over the ankles. We do have rattlesnakes here, although it’s rare to see one on one of the urban park trails. It’s also nice to have that extra support around your ankles should you twist your foot on the scree that covers the local trails. Footing on these trails is kind of hazardous, IMHO.

      Tomorrow I’ll be wearing these boots to wade back & forth across Oak Creek, so it’ll be interesting to see how they hold up. Hope I don’t have to buy a new pair after this hike, but if I do, so be it. I’ll carry several extra pair of socks, so I expect this scheme will work. Because they’re not waterproof, my feet will get wet, but it’s not very cold now (supposed to be 90 down here tomorrow) and I figure the water will just drain out of the “ventilated” spots. So-called “waterproof” boots that I’ve had in the past have been too heavy and too hot, and definitely not waterproof.

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