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November 22, 2022

I Don’t Hike by Coach Cathy

Last fall, I set out for a two-week adventure of a lifetime! I was officially in my fifties and felt there was no time like the present to push my boundaries and step outside of my comfort zone. You know, physical exertion, mental mind-bending, temperature changes, in-your-face nature, potentially suspicious food, and anything that makes you wonder later why you agreed to be that uncomfortable in every way.

After months of planning, prepping, and purchasing the needed gear, I was hesitant, to say the least, because I was about to hike 26 miles to get to Machu Picchu in Peru. You see, I don’t hike. Ever. I live at sea level in a beautiful place with many easily accessible hiking spots, but I don’t hike. No excuses. I sort of like hiking. I mean, I like the idea of hiking. I don’t ever make it happen.

What do you do when you are about to push your limits? You lean on a friend, right? Surround yourself with support and inspiration, which is one of the things I love about Hybrid Fitness. In my case, one of my grade school besties, Tammy, was going with me. Tam is the epitome of a spirited go-getter. Just what I needed! After 45 years, Tam knows me inside and out and has my back. However, she hikes. Like really hikes. Like all-the-mountains-in-New-England-every-weekend hikes. She was beyond ecstatic about this adventure.

I love to travel and have been all over the world. As I get older, I am less willing to suffer for the experience. I envisioned myself trudging along, far behind my friend if I wasn’t sitting on rocks or the wet ground, gasping for breath and sobbing periodically. Later wringing the sweat out of my clothes when we finally reached our nightly campsite only to find in the morning that my muscles would be so sore I’d have to forever live on the mountain in Peru with the alpacas for company.

I am a Hybrid Fitness Coach. Coach is the keyword. I help others get the exercise they need. In the past, I wasn’t as consistent with my exercise schedule. My nutrition was inadequate, at best. I tended to overschedule myself and skip meals. Once I realized what I had signed up for with this moderate-level Sacred Valley quest, I questioned whether I was fit enough to check this off the bucket list.

I have not been backcountry tent camping since b.k. (before kids). I was worried about my back after lying on the ground all night. I imagined tripping on the rock-strewn jaunt to the makeshift bathroom in the middle of the night in the blackest of black darkness. The temperature was a concern because I could only carry so much in my pack. Freezing after sweating in the cold weather from the exertion had me thinking there could be a possibility of never being warm again. I had no concept of what the food and drink would be like, including coca leaf tea, sacred to the Incas, which has enough caffeine to ignite my heart into a full gallop giving a whole new meaning to Elvis’s Burning Love. I was purposely not pondering the chances for any up close and personal conversations with unexpected critters as we intruded into their living spaces.

Despite all of these thoughts running through my head, I did gasp for breath but took more photos than anyone else because I stopped to take in my surroundings. I was slow but steady and arrived at camp whole and happy each evening, except when the toe of my shoe caught the step and sent me tumbling down stone steps. I don’t think I’ve seen that color purple in a bruise before. Sobbing was non-existent, smiling and laughing taking its place. My gear kept me dry in the downpours and shaded my fair skin from the sun. The thin sleeping pad did save my back from complete agony. My muscles were sore but in a why-don’t-I-hike-more kind of way. The food was pleasingly on the edge of gourmet with the now welcomed coca leaf tea because I didn’t bring enough layers for the evenings and needed the warmth. On a trip to the privy one evening, I made a deal with a tarantula to stay on our respective sides of the stall. Coach Brandon would have loved that. Overall, everything went well, but that didn’t mean it was easy. It was hard. Definitely not a vacation. It was what the brochure stated, an adventure hike.

As Coach Beth of Beth Feraco Fitness says, we can do hard things. We certainly can because I have signed up to hike in Nepal for two weeks in December. No, not Everest. I am not that crazy. As you probably know by now, I hate being cold, but I will be able to see Everest from my hike. I am going with a friend from college who runs adventure tours (Far Xplorer) in Nepal. Far Xplorer supports organizations that install clean drinking water in villages. Incredibly cool all the way around.

To prepare for this adventure, I have scheduled myself more time to be consistent in my workouts and not skip meals by doing some food prep. Sure, I’ve gained a few pounds with the increase in calories but, I feel better, heartier, stronger, and more prepared this time.

Wish me luck and stay tuned.