After spending Saturday at a work detail for my motorcycle club (did I ever tell you I was in a motorcycle club? Well, I have now…) I decided Easter Sunday was going to be a good day to get into the woods for a little outdoor therapy… not that I need therapy… umm, k, moving on…
Gambrill State Park
I decided to try a new park, and headed down to Frederick, to Gambrill State Park. I had never been to Gambrill, and was happy to find that there were multiple trails to hike. While the trails are mostly multiuse, allowing hiking, mountain biking and horseback riding, this weekend there were only hikers on them. With temps in the mid-60s, a sunny sky, and a slight breeze, it was a great day to be on the trail. And spring was certainly starting to show her color, which was good for the soul.
I started out on the White Trail – a fairly simple one mile loop. I figured this would be a good warm up for the knee, and would let me see what the terrain for the area was really like before committing to something more than I could handle. I am glad I started off here, as it gave some good trail walking with a few gradual ups and downs to get the knee loose. This was the first I had been on the trail in about two weeks, so I was not sure how the knee would handle it, and the White Trail was a good warm up. I also liked the symbolism of this trail, as it was marked with “White Blazes.”
Trekking Poles or Tripping Poles?
The White Trail also allowed me some time to get used to using hiking poles. I have always hiked with a single hiking stick, but my Physical Therapist recommended using two hiking poles to help ease the strain on my knee. (As a side note, my Mental Therapist, if I had one, would tell me I am completely nuts and should be committed… hence, why I do not have one!) I did some research online and found a pair of Leki cork-handled trekking poles that were reasonably priced and came with a great factory warranty. I used them once before, but the terrain that day was not conducive to finding a rhythm with the poles, so today was meant as a good training day for them.
I was surprised by how much the trekking poles helped… when I was not being tripped up by them! Apparently, coordination is something I am lacking in, too. I had assumed that the poles would be most useful on the uphill sections, and certainly, they were. However, my lungs were weaker than my knee on those uphills, so I was stopping to catch my breath before I needed to rest the muscle. (Note to self, add more cardio to the gym routine.) I was surprised to find that I relied on the poles more on the downhills than I had anticipated, especially when I had to actually step down from rock to rock, or when drainage logs were in place. The poles really did come in useful with balance and allowed me to lean on them when I needed a rest but did not want to sit down. If you have never hiked with the trekking poles before, I highly suggest trying them. Your knees will thank you.
I do need to figure out if I should be hiking with the metal points that come with the trekking poles, or if I should buy the rubber stopper ends. During the hike, it was about 50-50 as to which one I wanted. There are lots of rocks in the Maryland area, and the metal points do nothing but slide across the surface. But I am not sure if the rubber ends would actually work or if the dirt and dust would make them just as slippery as the metal points. Must do some more research on that…
After the White Trail, I decided to do the Green Trail, a two mile loop with varying degrees of difficulty ranging between mild to moderate. Well, that is what the park sign said. I am pretty sure someone needs a new dictionary with an improved definition of “moderate”. There was one section of trail that was steep enough that I could literally look up the trail like I was looking up a wall. Ok, maybe a slight exaggeration, but it sure did not feel that way at the time.
While hiking the Green Trail, I noticed the best part of the day. Some young man (or woman) had made a few markings on sequential rocks along the trail. I do not know who this kid is, but I like his style! And I hope the answer was “Yes”.
I most likely will not get into the woods this coming weekend, but will hopefully get some walking in to keep the knee moving. I would love to hear from you, so if you have any comments or topic suggestions, feel free to use the comment box below, or the Contact Me page up top.
Until next time, remember to “Spin the Compass.”