A couple weeks ago, I competed in the Mad Dog (Mudder) Fitness Challenge, which according to the hosts, is the “toughest 5k you’ll ever run.” Basically, it was a 5k race at a local ski resort, in which one runs up and down the mountain’s ski slopes while also traversing a variety of obstacles like walls, balance beams, monkey bars, etc. On this particular Saturday, it was raining, windy, and unseasonably cold, but the race was a lot of fun nonetheless (at least, for crazy people like those pictured below). I would do it again given the opportunity, but honestly, I wouldn’t pay to do it again unless some things were improved upon.
What follows in this article are two things:
1) Thoughts about participating in this type of event, and advice for those who have never done one before, but have been thinking about it.
2) My review of the event itself, what I liked and didn’t like, and how I would improve it, if it were up to me.
Continue reading Thoughts Upon Completing My First Adventure Race
Our group after finishing the race. Note the frigid temperature.
Nate Damm on the Golden Gate Bridge. (click for larger)
From sea to shining sea. That’s where one man walked, departing from Cape Henlopen State Park in Delaware and ending on Ocean Beach in San Francisco, CA. Nate Damm, a 23 year old from Maine, crossed the USA on foot, walking a total of 3400 miles in less than 8 months. He just finished on Saturday (Oct 15). I could blab on and on about what I think about such a grand adventure, but I’m going to let Nate do all the talking. It turns out that walking across America comes with a little bit of life wisdom, and Nate shares a wealth of it in this interview.
Just one thing to keep in mind: Nate offers up more than a dozen nuggets of wisdom in this interview (at least that I caught), and each one could have an entire book devoted to it. Actually, many books have been written on the subjects Nate touches on in both success and personal development literature. But Nate doesn’t beat around the bush and doesn’t need a whole volume to make his point. He just comes out and says what he’s learned in a very matter-of-fact style – sometimes in just one sentence. So, my advice to you is to take your time reading through his responses and pay attention to the way he speaks to better understand the transformation that has taken place in his life. The choice of his words will give you an inside peek into the mindset of a master.
OK, let’s dive into it!
Continue reading Meet Nate Damm: the Man Who Walked Across America
Our eclectic group of hikers. That little girl on the left practically ran down the mountain and finished the hike before everyone else!
Not too long ago, I embarked with a group of seven others to climb the tallest mountain in New England. You may remember that I climbed Mount Washington for the first time last year (trip report here). Even though our route was the same, the second time around brings with it a completely new experience and many new insights that weren’t apparent upon the first ascent. Granted, Mt. Washington is little more than a hill compared to the Rocky Mountains and many others around the world. Still, it’s far more challenging than most climbs – and one of the most challenging day hikes on this side of the U.S.A.
There have been hikes that upon completion, have left me utterly exhausted. This was not one of them. Yes, there was fatigue. Yes, there was need of rest. But to such a lesser extent compared to many other hikes I’ve done. If anything, I felt tired, but also rejuvenated after finishing. During last years trip, I noticed that I was far less fatigued than I had expected to be from such a grueling hike. This time, I’ve experienced minimal fatigue while climbing and after finishing – to an even greater degree, and I think I know why.
Continue reading Hiking Mount Washington – Barefoot and Fasted
Dehydration had set in a couple hours earlier, but I wasn’t counting the time, nor did I have any idea what the real time actually was. My mouth was past the point of dry, and had developed a sticky film that sealed my lips shut, smacked against my teeth. My tongue was stuck to the top of my mouth until I forcibly unhinged my jaw to take a deep breath. I could feel the slime stringing between my lips as I wiped my mouth. Probably afternoon, I muttered. I’ve been dehydrated before, but it’s been awhile since I’ve been this dry on such a hot day.
The sun was directly overhead, making it impossible to tell which direction was north, and we were forced to rely on our intuition, which was truly more of a guess. We could be anywhere and heading in any direction, but we weren’t too worried. This particular forest isn’t too big. Walk in a straight line long enough and we were bound to hit a road eventually. Still, it didn’t help that we had no map and no compass. The trail system looked simple enough from the map we had looked at before departing. Follow red trail to blue trail to yellow, which brings us back to red. Simple enough, but it wasn’t so simple. Either we’re terrible map readers, or the map was too far outdated. Somehow, we managed to get lost in the woods, but you never say “we’re lost” when you’re out in the bush.
The bugs were swarming around us like a black cloud, and I gave up whacking mosquitoes a long time ago. I resolved to allow the hitch-hikers a warm drink as long as they didn’t take more than they needed. Some ended up mangled into my arm hair in a splash of blood – reminding me of a painting by Claude Monet. Your mind wanders when you’re approaching heat stroke.
My dog, Ronin, had disappeared into the dense brush a few minutes ago as he usually does when he catches a scent, only this time he hadn’t returned. I had noticed earlier that he was getting hot and nearing heat exhaustion, so I was worried he may have layed down somewhere to rest. We slowed our trot to a halt and began wandering back to find him. After a minute or two of calling for him, he emerges in a crashing wave of brush and leaves – dripping wet from a nearby swamp that he used to cool off and rehydrate. His tank was full, but we were approaching empty.
You know you’re dehydrated when your eyes start drying out.
Continue reading A twisted ankle, questionable bullfrog hallucinations, a swamp beaver rescue squad, and how it relates to your health and fitness
The view from atop Mt. Megunticook
I just returned from a 3-day adventure in Camden Hills State Park in Maine (not far from Acadia National Park). Yes, it’s mid February, and yes I just got back from a backpacking/camping trip in the middle of winter. I spent the better part of the last three days with an aluminum frame pack on my back, hanging out with 8 other companions (9, including our dog), including the Tougas family, whom I introduced to you last year here. We spent the days lugging around our packs through the snowy hills and mountain in Camden – stuffed full of sleeping bags, extra layers of clothing, and most importantly FOOOOOOOOOD. I think I probably carried more weight in food than anything else. Some would argue that we ate better while camping than at home! Our weekend trip was a delightful adventure and it ended far too soon.
It’s impossible to encapsulate the experience in a single essay, but I will tell you that it included some of life’s simplest and greatest joys and a breathtaking mountain/ocean view on one of the most beautiful days we’ve had all winter (see video and picture gallery below).
Continue reading Different – That’s How I Feel: Lessons From Our Winter Backpacking Trip To Camden Hills State Park