Friday, October 09, 2009

Climbing is hard

elevation chart for AT around Mount Rogers

When I first started hiking, I had a perverse relationship with elevation charts, those things that show you how high and low the trail goes within so many miles. I hated looking at them because it always seemed that whenever J. pulled the elevation chart out, we were at the bottom of a huge climb that the chart helpfully illustrated as a steep slash. Never at the top. At the same time, I wanted to look at them because I had to see how many more miles we had, and how many more climbs were in store.

I guess J. has toughened me enough so that I no longer want to cry when I see that we have just one more climb to make before we reach the shelter at the end of a long day. Now I can coolly assess the elevation chart and mentally prepare my legs for how much more I will ask of them.

Of course, it helps if you are hiking through open space (like the balds of Mount Rogers). There's more to distract you. I always get grumpy if we're climbing up the side of a tree-covered mountain. Trees tend to blur into one monotonous scene as you hike, so it seems as if you are watching a continuous loop of one image. It gets old if you're tired and hungry.

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