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Thursday, October 20, 2011

Mother Nature's Stair Climber

Usually at this time of the year I am out of shape and champing at the bit to get back on snow and back in shape. Normally I stay fit by going skiing a lot, and the late summer early fall with the lack of skiing opportunities is my fitness nadir. But this year at the end of ski season I decided to change my normal routine and keep on climbing all summer and fall. I made climbing the North Sister a daily routine (when possible). And it has made a HUGE difference - I am way fitter than usual for this time of the year. I am physically ready for ski season to begin.

Basically I follow the red dotted route in the photo - starting across the road at the pull out and climbing through the old gravel pit and up the trail to the tippy top. It's a super convenient workout. It's only an 8 minute drive from my house to the trailhead. If I really hit it I can climb the mountain and be home just over an hour later. It is an 1800 foot climb and I have little mental markers at the 1/3, 1/2, and 2/3 points of the climb. I find it illuminating and challenging to pace my climbs.

What's amazing is that back in July I virtually killed myself to achieve a time that is 5 minutes slower than an easy paced time today. And my fastest time is a full 12 minutes faster than my fastest in July. I also get the arm workout because I use ski poles, and I generally climb down slowly using the ski poles to save my knees. My time down is usually about the same as my time up.

Zoya calls my hill climbing 'mother nature's stair climber'. She knows I am not the type of person who likes to go to an indoor gym. People go to gyms for the convenience, but I'm finding that a local hill is just as convenient. I would not be saving any time going to a gym, and I think the hill climb is probably a better workout. I KNOW the views are better!


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