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Counting Smiles Rather Than Steps

I love the way activity trackers keep people aware and accountable when it comes to staying active. I feel like, at least in my circle of friends, it’s far more likely for someone to be proud of hitting 10k steps every day for a week or running a new distance rather than, say fitting into a certain dress size, and that’s fantastic.

But, a trip last month to Asheville, NC, for my friend Lindsay’s birthday reminded me that sometimes, an active day is more about the smiles than the miles. (Even when there are some miles logged.)

dupont falls group hike

A whole group of us — plus my two dogs, Rudi and Hollie — stayed in a remote cabin in the mountains of DuPont State Forest, and while the dogs got quite a workout running all around our property, exploring every last leaf while enjoying the unseasonably frigid weather, those of us on two legs saved our energy* for a group hike that took us to several different waterfalls, up and down a few sets of stairs, and got us an elevation gain of at least a thousand feet (guessing?) over probably 5-plus miles.

(I say “probably” because, well, I got so caught up in our jokes and conversations that I completely forgot to set my watch to track the distance. And what’s more is, once I realized I’d forgotten? I didn’t even care. Who am I? Apparently, I’m this relaxed hiker chick who’s just here for the fun and not worrying herself about the data from the workout, and I think I might be a lot of fun.)

I got a chance to break in some new hiking shoes from Ahnu (which were amazing, btw — this was my first chance to wear the Sugarpine air mesh low-top hikers, and they were totally comfy and created no blisters. I liked them well enough, in fact, to toss an old pair of hiking shoes — these are my new loves!).

mountain workout

We got in some HIIT training with a couple of jump pictures…


Did a bit of mind-body work while meditating near the waterfalls…

kristen and dogs at waterfall

And really got our teamwork on with my dogs — they’re not always great with other canines, so each time we passed one, my friends created a “circle of trust” around my pups to try to distract them from the other dogs and keep them calm and happy. You know you’re with a pretty amazing group of friends when you’re not even the one who comes up with that plan!

At the end of the weekend, I felt that strange mix of exhaustion and revitalization that I often feel after a big race, and it made me realize that sometimes, when you stop focusing on how many steps you’re taking and think more about the scenery, you can get in a heck of a workout without even noticing.

Have you ever had an adventure that turned out to be quite a workout, but never really felt like a workout? It doesn’t happen all that often for me, but I sure embrace it when it does. Kristen

*We also used up a bit of energy playing many, many late-night games of Heads Up! (basically, charades with your phone) and laughing hard enough that my face hurt. Also, we might’ve logged a couple of miles walking around downtown Asheville to check out a few of the incredible local breweries.

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