In Preparation for Yellowstone

I’m going on vacation to Colorado, Wyoming and Montana this summer, which means I’ll be doing a lot of hiking and camping because this is an outdoorsy-type vacation. I’ve been walking a lot to prepare for this trip, but it turns out that actual hiking is quite different than suburban walking. After a short weekend trip to Shenandoah National Park this weekend and two relatively “easy” hikes ranging from 2-5 miles, I found myself out of breath, in pain and asking myself how I am going to survive the Rockies if I can barely handle the Blue Ridge, which are mere hills compared to the Rockies!

In theory, I love the outdoors and the idea of day-long hikes and wilderness camping. In practice, nature is tough. For example, cooking dinner was a two-hour ordeal during my trip. Everything takes time: Getting the fire ready, gathering water, washing dishes, etc. Also, I forgot how “dewy” the tent gets at dawn and how cold 40 degrees feels when your bedroom is a tent. Also, it helps to be in good shape if you plan to do all-day hikes. But despite all this, I really do enjoy a good challenging hike. My life, like most people’s lives, consists of mostly mild to moderate emotions. I am sometimes kind of happy, kind of sad, kind of angry, kind of relieved, etc. But a challenging hike allows you to explore and experience life’s more intense emotions in a contained and time-limited way. For example: The overwhelming relief of encountering a downhill portion of trail after a mile of challenging uphill terrain, the joy of running into a clear mountain stream when you’re dying of thirst and didn’t bother packing water on a 90 degree day (and hoping you don’t come down with brain eating amoebas), the misery of an endless uphill when your ankles and feet are killing you, the awe and sense of humility and pride you feel when you get to the top of a summit and the exquisite exhausted sleep you sink into when you zip your sleeping bag up after a highly physical day See? So many emotions in an 5-10-mile circuit hike!

I only have four weeks to go before my vacation so I’m not sure how much progress I’m going to be able to make between now and Yellowstone. As a last-ditch resort, I’ve resigned myself to doing the Atkins diet for a month…maybe dropping a quick 10-15 pounds will make things a bit easier on my ankles and back? I certainly hope so, because a life without carbs is a very bland and unexciting life. I grew up in a Latin family and the idea of a meal without a giant side of carbs is almost too much to bear. There’s just no excitement in food without carbs. Yesterday, I found myself staring at my computer screen and fantasizing about oven-roasted pita bread heaped with generous portions of jalapeno-cilantro humus (these fantasies are quite specific). Then I moved on to vivid daydreams of  fried Yuca, mounds of parboiled rice, spaghetti and meatballs and heavily buttered, lightly toasted baguette. Right now, I’m going through a mental inventory of every dish known to man, wondering if any of these can be converted to an Atkins version in a non-depressing manner. Probably not. I know these fad diets don’t work in the long-term, but at this point, I’m just looking for a quick solution. Only 28 more days to go, and then I can gain it all back. Hopefully my carbographic fantasies will sustain me until then. They’re all I have. I really wish I had undertaken a “lifestyle change” months ago.

Shenandoah 1

Good old Virginia farmland near Harrisonburg.

Shenandoah 2

The Patio at Skyland Lodge. I saw lots of Appalachian Trail hikers here. Lovely idea, would never want to undertake such a thing. If you ever visit Shenandoah National Park, Skyland Lodge is a great place to sit on the patio and drink a beer or cappuccino while enjoying the fresh mountain air.

Shenandoah 4

On Monday morning, tired of walking, I got in my car and did a sunrise drive down Skyline Drive.

Shenandoah 5

Lots of wildflowers!

Shenandoah 6

And pretty sunrise views.

Shenandoah 7

I think this tree was struck my lightning. Or it’s experiencing some very premature balding.

Shenandoah 8

More wildflowers and views.

Shenandoah 9

Wildflowers up close. As you can see, I love flowers.


Categories: DC Area Hiking, Hiking, Outdoors, Parks, Rural trips, Virginia

Tags: ,

4 replies

  1. Like you I too despair over life without carbs. Why don’t you try just cutting out wheat? That usually allows me to drop weight pretty easily and a lot of other people have reported the same to me. That way your diet can be more realistic but still helpful

    • Once I get back in going to cut back on wheat but I think at this point I need to lose as much weight as possible before my trip to Mage hiking more comfortable, and from what I’ve heard, Atkins is the most efficient way to lose weight on time constraints!


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