I hate working out; to me, it's akin to having bamboo stuck under my fingernails - one of the most painful, miserable experiences ever endured, and intensely boring to boot. The idea of running in place for an hour does not seem stimulating in the least.
Hiking, on the other hand - it's physical exertion with a tangible goal; a journey, the whole of which is to be not just enjoyed, but marveled at. Trails lead us through ancient forests, up the sides of immovable mountains and around the labyrinth of our souls... the fact that it also burns calories is, to me, a fringe benefit.
This last weekend, Annie & I tackled our first hike since Memorial Day 2014 (recuperating from a c-section made it hard to get out last summer), and now I'm kicking myself for not making it out earlier in the year. On the recommendation of a friend, we made the trek up to Stewart Falls, up Provo Canyon, a few miles past Sundance Resort. It was fairly easy - a perfect trail for a novice or someone just getting back into the swing of things, but still enough of a challenge to increase the heart rate and provide some good cardio. It was about 45 minutes each way, including a number of breaks for my poor, chubby Beagle companion to stay hydrated.
There were a number of kiddos, and even a few strapped to their parents' chest or back. It's a popular trail, making it somewhat crowded at the creek, but there's typically enough space between groups on the trail itself to feel the solitude of the forest. There's also a trail along the side of the falls for the hardier climber, but poor Annie was so winded by the time we made it to the creek that I wasn't sure she'd make it up (let alone back - she's definitely growing into her Beagle-ness), so I decided to hold off on tackling that mountain until we're both a little more in shape. We got a late start and it was really hot (we were both grateful to reach the creek with its ice cold runoff water), but a late afternoon rainstorm moved in as we started back, keeping us fairly cool as we made our way back to the car.
A few tips for those planning to hit the Stewart Falls trail:
- Pack a light lunch (and don't forget your canine companion). The creek is the perfect place for a picnic.
- Sunscreen and an umbrella are your friends. We've had a number of thunderstorms here lately, and you never know when you're going to get caught in a downpour. Most of the hike is fairly well covered by trees, but there are a few stretches where shade is spotty - and one long section where it's nonexistent.
- Take a camera to capture the moment, but don't spend the entire hike behind the viewfinder.
- Bring flip flops or water shoes for wading in the creek, and paper towels to dry off afterward (unless you're okay with squishy hiking shoes). Wading through the cold water feels wonderful after the hike up, but the stony bottom makes it painful to walk across barefoot.
Directions to the Stewart Falls trailhead:
The trailhead is pretty easy to find: head up Provo Canyon to State Road 89 (which also happens to be the road that goes up to Sundance Resort). Eventually, you'll come to a toll booth where you'll pay a $6 fee. There's a parking lot about 200 feet past that on the left where you'll find the trailhead (it's the one next to the restrooms). Follow the signs; there are a few small trails that branch off from the main one, but stick to the largest path (it'll be pretty obvious).
I had so much fun hiking to Stewart Falls that I've decided to make it an as-often-as-possible activity, with it's own weekly feature here on the blog to help keep me motivated and introduce other exercise-averted peeps to my adventures. Check back next Friday for tips on creating the perfect fitness look!
What's your favorite form of physical activity? Do you hike, bike, run, swim or twirl batons? Share your thoughts and tips in the comments! (and no.... sex doesn't count!)