RSS Feed

Tag Archives: weight loss

Appalachian Trail – G. Richard Thompson Wildlife Preserve

Posted on

Hike Summary

(Note: I didn’t get to take any pictures on this hike due to the pace, so you get lots of words!)

So, June 1st was National Trails Day, so what better way to celebrate than to go on a hike?

I often go just with my dog on hikes, as there are very few people with time off during the week, which works both in my favor and against me. It works in my favor in the respect that I don’t often encounter other people on the trail, but it works against me because there aren’t any people to hike with. My SO has an aversion to the outdoors for the most part, as well as being afraid of heights, so he’s mostly unable to go hiking with me. That’s totally fine with me, we have different interests and hobbies.

Still, I have made close to zero friends since I have moved to the East Coast. A good chunk of that is my depression and social anxiety, but it just seems to be hard to meet people. Most of the meetup type organizations in the area seem to be stay at home moms, and since I am only a mom to a dog, I don’t exactly qualify.

Anyhow, I wanted to get out and meet some new people. This is probably something I would have been much more nervous about doing even a year ago, but it seems that shedding the weight that I have has also helped a little with confidence. I’m not there yet by any means, but I’m getting better.

So, to the hike. I arrived fairly early, not wanting to be late, and there were a few cars in the lot, and one guy and his dog. This was Tom Johnson of the Potomac Appalachian Trail Club, one of the hike guides for the day, and his dog Sam (a girl.) She was an enthusiastically friendly and intense Aussie Shepherd/Border Collie mix. We chatted for a while, waiting for the others. It ended up being a very small turnout, with Alyson Browett of the Front Royal/Warren County Appalachian Trail Community, and another  hiker named Bob.

We set out in one car to the starting point of the hike, at the other end of the G. Richard Thompson Wildlife Preserve, which is one of a multitude of Wildlife preserves in the state of Virginia. It is open for fishing and hunting with permit, and is an excellent place to view bird migrations as well as wildflowers. A good chunk of the Appalachian Trail bisects the area before heading into Sky Meadows State Park.

It was a pretty warm day that day, but not overly so. Most of the trillium were long past their season, something I’ll have to remember for next year. I remember seeing them before they bloomed in Sky Meadows in April, so it seems they have a narrow window of blooming.

We did see quite a bit of wildlife though: several toads, squirrels, a box turtle, and even a black racer. Luckily we did not see any Copperheads, which used to live underneath the Manassas Gap Shelter, where we stopped for a snack and to chat. Manassas Gap Shelter is the oldest of the AT shelters between Shenandoah and the WV border, so it has a long history. As we were chatting, we met an AT thru-hiker who went by the trail name of Goose. He’d been on the trail since early March, and was making excellent time, living off mostly Pop-Tarts.

As we hiked on, we chatted about the trail, stopping to check out trees and plants. It was nice to have other people who knew more about the  flora than I did. I can identify any number of California native plants, but I am definitely still learning my Virginia wildflowers.

Near the end of the hike, Bob was kind enough to snap a picture of us for posterity. I had a great time, and really enjoyed hiking with more people. Hopefully I’ll get a chance to do so again soon.


Sky Meadows State Park

Hike Summary

This was not my first visit to Sky Meadows, but it is the first visit I have made since I started writing about my hikes.

The last time I hiked Sky Meadows, it was my first “serious” hike, after I got new hiking boots and a backpack, but before I got my Garmin etrex 20. It was actually this hike that inspired me to get a hand-held GPS, as using my mobile phone for navigation was something, I discovered, that was hazardous due to the short battery life.

It was also where I realized just how out of shape I was, and now I realize how far I’ve come in my fitness.

The first time I tried to hike this hike, the first hill, up Gap Run trail, absolutely killed me. I was barely able to get through, and ended up cutting my hike short, taking the North Ridge trail around and only hiking about half the distance.

What a difference 7 months makes. The hike up the Gap Run trail was still a bit of a lung burner, but I wasn’t gasping for air every 100 feet. It was a very very chilly day out, windy and cold, with a temperature of 14F with wind chill. I had to keep my jacket zipped up for the entire hike.

The trail winds uphill, past old ruins of a house, and then keeps going, with some nice views off to the west. I also saw a very unusual sight — a bright spot of green in an otherwise grey forest. A pool of water must be warmer than anywhere else, and the lush greenness really stood out to me.

On the trail wound, through some meadows, and then eventually junctioned with the Appalachian Trail. There was a bench where I was able to sit and have a little snack, and I finally saw some other hikers. They continued on up the AT, and I sat for a bit longer, sipping my tea and giving them time to build some distance on me.

I took the Old Appalachian trail side trip, and it was a nifty trail, with some snow still on the ground and nice views of I think Winchester through a clearcut section of forest. The trail wound on and rejoined the AT, and I hiked back up to the ridge.

There, I entered the high meadow sections, which were quite lovely after all the forest. I saw (but didn’t manage to get a photo of, sadly,) a herd of whitetail deer. They just quickly dashed through the meadow in front of me, causing me to pause and watch them run by, completely forgetting my camera in my bemusement.

Now it was time for some downhill bits of trail, and the ground had thawed enough somewhat that it made things a little slippery at times. As I was hiking, I encountered one of the oddest sights I’ve seen while out hiking: Another hiker, an older gentleman, who was so well dressed it completely took me off guard.

He was wearing hiking boots, as one obviously would need to, and I didn’t catch notice of his pants, but he was wearing a nice jacket and … a tie. Hiking while wearing a tie just seemed so strange to me. I was talking about it to my mom later that day and she commented that some people just like to be well dressed, no matter where they go.

I suppose this is true. It was very impressive. I wish that I could be that well dressed when I go hiking, but I end up looking like a mess most of the time, with my grubby jeans and my 3 sizes too many coat (losing 90 pound in a year has that effect, but it seems wasteful to buy a new one when this one is barely a year old.)

I hiked on, and nearer to the end of my hike, managed to accidentally flush a red fox, who quickly bounded away.

I kinda miss these hikes, with all the mileage building hikes I’ve been doing as training. I like to hike for enjoyment, and sometimes the other ones seem like more of a chore. I need to figure out a balance of entertaining and training, so that I can continue to post interesting posts and get the needed miles in.

2013-02-21 Sky Meadows

A Year Ago Today

Posted on

So, no hike this week. It decided to both snow and be incredibly cold, and although I had planned on visiting a museum to make up for the lack of a hike, it seemed with all the ice that it would be a better idea to just stay indoors.

So I did, and tried to work extra hard on the elliptical machine.


So, a year ago today, I decided to start logging the food I ate with a little app called MyFitnessPal. I had been feeling pretty crappy about my weight for a long time, and had taken some tentative steps towards correcting the problem, but this was my first real effort in a long time.

“I’ll just start seeing what I eat and see how badly I am doing,” I said to myself. Boy, was I being bad. I mean, it could have been a lot worse, but I generally dislike most fast food, and I pretty much cook dinner every night.

However, when you cook dinner for 4 for two people and eat it all, you have a problem. I’d often eat whatever leftovers my SO hadn’t eaten either, so I was often eating enough food for 3 people at a time.

I hate wasting food, and I love eating, so that was a big issue. I also love to bake things, and baking a batch of cookies and eating most of them was also a problem.

So, I started taking steps to correct things. I had pretty much given up on soda and coffee for a while by this point, only occasionally drinking them. I also cut out fruit juice, as drinking it with breakfast often left me feeling dizzy by lunchtime. I limited myself to tea and water as my main beverages. I started eating a regular breakfast of oatmeal. I started cutting down the portion sizes at dinner.

And I started walking. At first, it was only 30 minutes of walking, but as time went on, I moved it up to an hour worth, and then I added in my weekly hikes. Walking every day and listening to audiobooks while I did it really helped, along with the portion size changes, and the tinkering with menus to eliminate high calorie foods.

I think the difference now between when I tried to do this before, is the change in technology. My phone is with me all of the time, and I can even scan barcodes, and look up foods in the database, so I can make better choices. This gave me no excuse to not log my food.

As I lost the weight and as I exercised more, I felt some of the symptoms of my depression lessen. It’s not totally gone, nor is my anxiety. I am not sure if I can ever stand a stressful environment again. But I am trying.

One year ago, I weighed 248 pounds. Today (well, as of last Saturday, actually,) I weigh 159.


I still have a bit to go: I would eventually like to hit 140 pounds. I feel like I’ve come a long way. I can hike 10 miles up and down a 1500 ft incline. I have more energy. I don’t feel like I’m dying when I go up all the stairs in the house I live in.

Here’s hoping another year will be as productive as this last one has been.

Looking back on the Year Past

Posted on

Yes, I am still here! The holidays kept me from hiking, and all the busy times preparing for Christmas dinner (I cook) left me too drained to even make a little blurb, my apologies!

I am still here, I plan on continuing to hike as much as the weather will allow me to in winter time. I also plan on posting more than just hike summaries in the days to come, to keep things more informative.

The Year Past

This last year, I looked at myself, weighing 248 pounds, feeling like crap all the time, feeling crushed and hopeless from depression, and I decided to do something about it.

I started walking. I’ve made a couple of attempts at this before, but nothing really seemed to work. I tried making it a habit, I tried making it fun. It took me really committing to it, making it the first thing I do in the morning, and eventually adding in hiking to get it to stick.

Although I started walking in February or March, I didn’t start tracking it until April. There are also a few times where my phone has died and I’ve lost how far I’ve gotten, but keeping that in mind:

  • Distance traveled: 794 miles
  • Total Time: 281 hours
  • Calories Burned: 104, 783

When I started walking, I averaged 2.56mph. In December, I averaged 3.14mph. I also lost 85 pounds during that time, and I’m feeling a lot better.

I still have a ways to go, but I think that all in all, the previous year was a good one.

So, what to look forward to in the coming year?

My goals are to lose 23 more pounds, continue to hike as much as I can (weather allowing) and to walk or use the elliptical every day. I’d like to expand my blogging some, branching out into possibly writing my opinions about some of the equipment I use. I’d like to maybe get my own domain going as well.

The year looks great from here!

Appalachian Trail – Pine Grove Rd to Raven Rocks

Posted on

Hike Summary
So, after that marathon (for me) saga of Mary’s Rock a couple of weeks ago, I decided I should do something shorter. I had planned on hiking this last week, but of course Sandy had other plans, and I had to stay home. That gave me some extra time to recover and plan.

I decided to go on a Tuesday this week, because I was a little worried that the Nor’easter was going to drop some snow on the area (completely didn’t happen, but better to be safe than sorry!) and it was a beautiful, clear, and rather chilly and blustery day.

This is my second time hiking a portion of the AT, and the first one where the focus of the hike is that particular trail. It has a reputation for being called the “roller coaster” in the Virginia portion, and after this hike, I can definitely see why. This hike was a bit of a roller coaster in miniature, as it wound its way up and over a couple of hills before coming up to Raven Rocks.

It starts out as a little path coming off a parking lot on Pine Grove Road, at the intersection of the Leesburg Pike.  Up and down it goes, over wrinkles of hills, down into little stream valleys that had trickles of water flowing. The second stream, I never actually saw but only heard, as it burbled under my feet. It was around this valley that I saw my first AT Survey Marker, which are used to mark the right of way of the trail and as reference points.

One thing that is somewhat easy to forget, but was actually also a fairly constant reminder, is just how well traveled this trail is. I only actually saw one other hiker this day, but every time I put a hand out to steady myself on a tree branch, I could feel a smoothed down feeling. It reminded me of the railings at Disneyland, and also really spoke to just how many people travel on this trail. The occasional bits of debris and garbage are of course another reminder, and I picked up what I ran across.

I didn’t take a lot of pictures this day, I am not really sure why. I was feeling a little less motivated about my photography skills than I have been. I’ve been trying to read about how to take better photographs, but it often seems like I’m unable to put those things into practice. I think I sometimes get distracted by the fitness aspect of my hiking, and forget to take time to stop and look at things better. I need to remember that, although I am trying to lose weight, I also am hiking to enjoy the hike, and that the purpose is to get out of doors and enjoy it.

Somewhere along the way, I ended up losing my hat. I was silly and only half shoved it into the pocket of my jacket after going uphill and becoming too hot.

Continuing on, I crossed the border into West Virginia, and then a little further and up to the Rocks, which are definitely a place that is well and often visited. There was a splendid view towards the south, with a teensy bit of color left in the trees. I marveled at having such a good phone signal, which is rare, and then looked behind me.

One can never truly escape technology anymore, it seems.

Back I went, headed towards home. I did find my hat, at least.

More Pictures of Appalachian Trail – Raven Rocks

Another Week, Another Lack of Hike

It kinda bummed me out — a second week of no hiking, so another week of no articles on the blog.  I need to think about doing some sort of other content for when I am unable to do hiking, as happened for a lengthy stretch this time.

It isn’t that I didn’t want to hike — I really did want to. The weather and my body conspired against me, preventing me. It was either raining, or 90 degrees out, or sometimes both. I also managed to pinch a nerve in my pelvis, and I had a flareup of gout, which I haven’t had in years, so I wasn’t even able to sit at my desk for more than an hour at a time.

This more or less put me in a funk for the week. I was hoping things would clear up, but alas.

I did manage to at least do all my daily walks, and thus far I am continuing to lose weight, so in least that respect things are going well.

I just want to get out there!

No Hike This Week

Posted on

My SO has been on vacation this week, so I haven’t gone out to go hiking. I still have been doing my daily walking for an hour, though.

I hit a new record this month, walking for 107 miles. My previous record was in June, where I’d walked 93 miles.

My mood has been good. I have lost 62 pounds since I started losing weight in February, which puts me over the halfway point, and I feel my goal of 140 is achievable. When I mentioned this to my father, he offered to buy me an iPad if I hit the goal weight.
“I don’t need an iPad, Dad,” I said. I told him that when I hit the goal weight, that I wanted him to come visit me, so that I would have someone to hike up to the top of Old Rag Mountain with.