Years ago, I did some hiking in Montana. Two months prior to that vacation, I ran bleachers and trekked every available hill in order prepare my legs and my new boots for the upcoming challenge.
But this time my vacation destination was the Great Smoky Mountains, and no offense to that southeastern range, but come on; you ain’t no Rockies. Heck I didn’t even take a pair of hiking boots; figured my Keens could handle the highest peak — a mere baby at only 6,643 feet.
For the most part, the trails encountered throughout the Smokies were smooth, packed dirt and easily traversed. More exploration than hardcore hiking, we tramped about merrily in search of the indigenous black bears.
After a night of bluegrass music, we drove out to Clingmans Dome: a man-made observation point perched above the treetops. On a clear day the panoramic view encompasses 100 miles and seven states. The fully paved path spirals up through the clouds, is a good 20-feet wide and just over a half-mile long.
Did I mention steep? This sucker may look innocent enough, but it gains an elevation of 332 feet in that measly half mile and with a gradient of 13 percent, it felt seemingly endless. To be honest, it kicked my butt!
I’d like to blame it on the previous night’s revelry or point my finger at my failure to prepare; whatever — it doesn’t really matter. I did it, and would do it again. The view was fantastic.
It’s funny, the towering peaks of the Rockies never did get the best of me, but within that old mountain range east of the Mississippi, I had met my match.
What workout has taken you by surprise? I thought aerial fitness would be a blast, but for me it definitely wasn’t! —Karen