It was a 2 mile downhill trek, my least favorite start to a hike in the woods. Why? Because that means the more aerobic part of the hike will be on the way back.  With each downward step I whined. “It’s going to take me forever to go back up.” After an hour and a half of gravity pushing me faster down the hill than I felt safe, I sat on a log and pouted. Actually the downhill was kind of fun. It reminded me of the first rule of alpine skiing. Ski in control.

It was an ah-ha moment as I compared hiking with sailing. During my early years of racing I was petrified of the start sequence.  When I expressed my nervous approach about the start line Susan Korzeniewski, Hobie 16 champion sailor, gave me this sage advice. “Own the starts. Tell yourself where you want to be on the start line. Then, take charge.” For the next twenty years the start sequence became my favorite part of the race.

It was after this time of quiet reflection when I announced, “At 10 am I am going to quit for the day.” This would allow me twice as much time to ascend. My hiking partner, Debbie Gregory agreed. She was about 50 yards ahead of me. A minute or two later I heard water streaming below.

Photo by Hiking Buddy Debbie Gregory

Then, a bellowing “Yea, I found the arch.” It signaled a celebratory reply. “Ya-hoo we found it.” 

Photo by Hiking Buddy Debbie Gregory

It was high atop a steep grade of granite rocks where the top of the arch kissed the sky. Higher, steeper, and rockier than either of us were prepared to climb, we stood on the river rocks below in awe of this natural wonder. Try as we might the distance between the top of the arch and the river below were too steep to capture in the same photo.

Photo my me, the Sassea One

It was later that evening when a little research revealed a U-Tube video taken during someone else’s winter day hike. It is a worthwhile video that gives a glimpse of hiking this trail in the snow. The arch is named Saint Charles Natural Stone Arch, an alcove eroded out of granite. The broken granite falls as the alcove erodes. It forms a cascade of broken granite reminding us of a frozen waterfall. Sitting alongside the river we ate our snacks before the ascending hike back to the trailhead.

It was after watching the u-tube video, after taking a shower, after taking two aspirin, after flopping in my recliner, and after a long sigh of contentment that I made a pledge. Just as I chose to own the start lines in a sailboat race, I vowed to own the uphil climbs. A vow without an action plan (AP) is meaningless. So, here goes my AP:

a) ascend the infamous INCLINE in Colorado Springs every two months

b) complete ten consecutive flights of stairs up to my loft each day,

c) continue the two mile, up/down walk n jog block, every other day (except days I hike)

d) continue to follow daily reminders of anaerobic exercises to do by my online coach, Matt — his program, “Stronger Runner,” has been a Godsend for me.

e) continue to chose healthy foods and habits

It was about three hours ago, before writing this blog entry, that I began my AP in honor of last night’s vow. Yipe, I conquered ten flights of stairs!

REFERENCE:  Dusty Visits Saint Charles Natural Stone Arch – UTube video