When I lived in New York, I loved running. I used to run in Central Park in the middle of Manhattan or in Riverside Park on the Upper West Side along the Hudson almost every day. There was something about running in the middle of a busy city listening to music on my headphones amidst all the whirlwind of activity that was very appealing to me.
When I moved to the Bay Area, I kept up my running. The good thing about living here is that we are blessed with beautiful mild weather almost year-round. No more running in ice and snow or in hot humid weather! I used to run 5-8 miles after work every day. But the years of running, mostly on streets, took their toll on me. After one broken ankle, three knee operations, and two procedures on my spine, I had to hang up my running shoes.
To remain active, I took up hiking instead because of the slower pace, and (usually) more forgiving footing. I started hiking 16 years ago, and have not stopped since. I love it even more than running. There’s nothing I like better than getting away from it all and going for a nice all-day hike in the wilderness – no telephones, no Wi-Fi, just fresh air and beautiful scenery.
Since I began my new hobby, I’ve made many friends and we usually go hiking together every weekend. All told, we’ve hiked almost 150,000 cumulative miles – that’s equivalent to going around the Earth six times. Most of our hikes fall in the category of “extreme hikes” – over 20 miles, and usually with a lot of elevation gain. The most distance I’ve done in one day is 44 miles and the most elevation gain in a day is 12,000 feet.
My hiking has taken me to State Parks and National Parks all over the western United States including Death Valley, Tahoe, Sierras, Grand Canyon, Yosemite, Yellowstone, Zion, Bryce, Canyonlands, Glacier, Rocky Mountains, Mauna Loa and Haleakala (Hawaii), Denali (Alaska), and many more. My favorite hikes include Half Dome at Yosemite (which took me four separate attempts to go all the way to top because of my fear of heights), Mt. Whitney (highest point in the continental United States at 14,500 feet which sounds like a lot until you realize that’s only half of Everest), and the Rim-to-Rim hike in the Grand Canyon (23 miles from the North Rim down into the bottom of the canyon and back up the South Rim. The biggest challenge is the heat. We started at 3am and in our army t shirt to beat the heat. Even so, it was 110 degrees at 10am when we started to climb up the other side. Four groups of people from other teams had to be airlifted out that day).
*For next year, my goal is to hike to the top of Mount Kilimanjaro in Tanzania. If anyone has experience in doing that climb, I would love to hear from you.