Sunday, March 26, 2017

Hiking Guidelines

November 21, 2016 by  
Filed under Trail Tips, Uncommon Sense

BUDDY HIKES:  As people join our energetic hiking-for-exercise group, it’s helpful to communicate how we are VERY different from other groups.  I know this seems like a LOT, but every single one of these guidelines has emerged from some issue or concern.  Our goal is for everyone to have a good time and, since that’s different for everyone, please read before you join us:

Our prime directive is exercise.  Secondarily, we love nature.  That we can get great exercise – outside – and connect with our buddies is wonderful, but the social is an ancillary benefit to being outside exercising.

Chatter:  We are a “small” group by design.  Large groups of 16 to 20 can have 8 to 9 different, competing conversations.  It can get loud, when some of us want to hear the birds, the frogs, the burbling water, even the wind in the groaning trees.

  • Many people go into nature for the serenity.  4+ hours of competing conversations is not serene.
  • Some hikers are sound sensitive; some are hard of hearing.  One hiker I knew got migraines from the loud voices and stopped hiking with us.
  • Our hiking group is not the usual – show up, hike, social/chatty hiking group; hence these guidelines.
  • Quiet zones are where we walk in complete silence (except for trail hazard warnings).  They include early starts in places like Muir Woods where people go for serenity,  morning walks through campgrounds where people might be sleeping or waking, places where hazards are present so everyone can hear the warnings, as well as along streams, entering non-system trails or anytime a hiker requests “radio silence.”
  • Please do not wait for the leader to call a quiet zone.
  • Be aware of your surroundings and, if in doubt,  listen.  Remember Shinrin Yoku!

Trail Hazards & Conditions:  We call warnings – “Low Branch,” “Poison Oak in the Trail,” “NEWT!” We ask the last person on the trail to acknowledge this so we know everyone has heard it.   This means that conversations must take second place to trail awareness.   Please be aware and ON so that everyone is safe and has a good time, even if part of that time is quiet.  If anyone steps on a newt – the consequences are too severe to put in writing.

Confirm:  Trail head locations and start times can change due to weather or whim.  We ask that you reply to the hike coordinator to let him/her know of your intention to join us.  If it’s a meet-up hike listing, keep your status current.

Plus One:  Please do not extend an invitation to someone  without first checking with the hike coordinator.  If you do bring a buddy, please make sure s/he reads these guidelines before joining us.

OTT:  We start walking at the posted start time – it’s our OTT (on the trail) time.  If you have a specific time you must finish by, let the hike leader know before the hike starts.

Stopping:  We plan our gear adjustment stops/pauses collectively to minimize non-hiking time.  When hiking in rain – many more stops!  If you are stopping for photos, it is up to you to catch up with the group.

Biology breaks:  call your need (for this or any other reason to pause or stop), we’ll either wait or continue more slowly (if it’s a trail without an intersection).  Please do not walk ahead of the group for a biology break and then expect everyone to wait for you.

Trail Etiquette: 

  • Wait at intersections.
  • If there’s a substantial spacing in the group, it’s important to make sure the last person is with the group.  If you’re in the lead, occasionally look back.
  • If you’re lagging, try to keep up, even if it means less talking, more walking.  It might surprise you how much more expeditiously you can hike if you focus on the trail instead of chatting with your buddies.   But, if you’re having trouble, let the leader or another hiker know.
  • If your plan is to go at your own pace, let the leader know at the start.
  • Please do not stop in the middle of the trail causing everyone behind you to stop.  Pull off to the side so those who like to keep moving (even if more slowly so you can catch up) can do so.
  • If you have your cell on (for GPS, work or medical reasons), try to turn it low or vibrate.  If you get a call while hiking, please hang back away from the group to have your conversation.

Perfume:  don’t wear it.

No Cussing Please:  Profanity isn’t pretty.

Pole Etiquette:  make sure your pole tips are under your control and not aiming at other hikers.

Hike Descriptions:   We try to accurately describe the hikes so that hikers can decide if they’d like to join us for that hike.  If you confirm your intention to join us, please plan to join us for the stated hike.  This helps prevent schisms and extra conversation on the trail.  However, sometimes people need to shorten the hike for all kinds of reasons.   If you need to peel off, it is essential that you inform the hike coordinator as soon as possible.   Hiking back alone, especially if your reason is a medical one, may be contraindicated.

Car Pooling: 

  • Not everyone is comfortable car-pooling.  Do not offer someone else’s car or coordinate for someone else.
  • Car poolers:  Be early.  Consider tolls, parking fees and gas contributions.  Bring extra shoes for wearing in the car after the hike (or some protection for muddy boots on floor mats).

Hike Ratings (when we use them):  Hike ratings consist of a number-letter code where the number is the distance and the letter is the amount of uphill climbing.

Length (miles)

1: Up to 6
2: 6 – 10
3: 10 – 15
4: 15 – 20

Elevation Gain (feet)

A: under 1,000
B: 1,000 to 2,000
C: 2,000 to 3,000
D: 3,000 to 4,000

Hiking and enjoying nature’s bounty in the Springtime

May 9, 2016 by  
Filed under Gallery, Nature

Lovely abundance of Spring flowers; enjoy!  Click on any photo to enlarge; press back button to return to post.

Flutterby2 Globe Lilies Foothills Butterfly Mariposa plus bee
Wind Poppy Red Ribbon Clarkia Globe Lilly plus red ribbon clardias

Flowers above are from Mt. Diablo and Foothills Park in Palo Alto.

Mariposa Foothills Butterfly Mariposa P1000876

Along the trail, we’ve seen way too much poison oak.  Remember to wash your poles if they come in contact with poison oak.  Soap & water or rubbing alcohol.  Leave them apart and let them dry overnight.  Below is Broomrape and the pods of the hop bush.  Hope you’re enjoying your outdoor adventures!

P1000907 P1000918

 

Hiking & Ticks

May 2, 2016 by  
Filed under Trail Tips

this is not the first post on this blog about ticks .

Last week, after a magical morning hike on Mt. Diablo, I announced a tick check before we got into our cars.  We also did 2 or 3 tick checks while out OTT (on the trail).  Even with the post-hike tick check, I found a tick at my hairline about 30 minutes after getting into the car.  I did not have anyone check my hairline and this was a huge mistake.  A hiking buddy recently sent this link regarding tick removal out to our hiking group.  It’s a one-minute video that’s well-worth watching.

Let’s be safe outside!

Spring in the Bay Area – Flowers & Such

May 1, 2016 by  
Filed under Nature

The Bay Area has such abundance.  Mt. Diablo has been amazing this year, as you can see.   Please – PLEASE click on the Mariposa and the Blow Wives.  Use the back button to return to post.

Yes, I know some photos temporarily disappear behind the banner.  The banners pay for the blog – Please remember to shop Amazon & REI from this blog.  Support your outdoors pole-using blogger 🙂

Diablo Mariposa Lilly Diablo Globe Lilly Blow Wives
Diablo Purple Larkspur Diablo Clymatis Diablo Thistle

Above (L to R by row): Mt. Diablo Mariposa Lilly, Mt. Diablo Globe Lilly, Blow Wives, Purple Larkspur, Clymatis, Thistle.

Diablo-Wind-Poppy-20160428-IMG_2481 Sunol Owl Clover Ribbon Clarkia
Sunol Bucolic Hillside P1000673 Heart Shaped Wood

Above (L to R by row):  Wind Poppy (Mt. Diablo), Owl’s Clover (Sunol – fields of them this year – astounding), Elegant Clarkia (Mt. Diablo), Bucolic Sunol hillside, Sunol Turtles, Heart Shaped cut on Tam…..and just a few more from my i-phone (yes, I’m dueling cameras OTT – on the trail)

Globe Lilly Jewel iphone blow wives iphone
Globe Lilly Bob Diablo Globe Lilly 2 Milkweed

Above more magical globe lilies.   Click on the middle one in the first row and see a lovely jewel flower.  This one is so small that you can walk right by and not not know it’s there.

Mt. Tam & Coastal Wildflowers – Spring 2016

May 1, 2016 by  
Filed under Nature

Rain (thank goodness) brought us some lovely hillsides full of flowers.  Remember to click on any photo to enlarge and press back button to return to post.

Pussy Ears Tam Iris Tam Lupine Hillside
Tam Cream Cup Tam Oakland Star Tulip Tam Iris Lavendar

Above (clockwise):  Pussy Ears compliments of my dear friend Alison (who is passionate about photography – duh), Iris, field of Lupine with some CA Golden Poppies, another iris, Oakland Star Tulip, Cream Cup.

Purchasing Poles Long Distance

April 30, 2016 by  
Filed under Gear, Poles

Blog Readers:  Jane is a lovely lady who is enjoying life, mobility and her poles.  She was happy to share her experience with you and I hope you enjoy reading about her adventures!  Her generous donation to her community is helping others to maintain their independence as well!

“Dear Jayah:  Living in the green state of Tennessee, I love to walk outdoors. I use my LEKI poles every time I do, even when I take the newspaper to my neighbor.

Because I wear trifocals, whenever I walk down a slant, I have to tip my head down to see where I’m going. That tilts my body forward, which is probably why I began falling face down on the sidewalk. Twice I had blood streaming down my lip. That’s when I googled hiking sticks. And found you!

First I purchased your hiking video, then I got the mobility one, too, and studied them both. My husband and I had a good telephone conversation with you, and the upshot was that you sent us a large box with five sets of poles to choose from.  With your guidance and expertise, I chose the LEKI and Mark chose Exerstriders. Then we sent the other three sets back to you in the same box. Easy.

Some might say all this was expensive. But compared to a doctor’s visit or replacing a pair of glasses or a front tooth, the dollars we sent you were peanuts.

Because at age 85 I’m beginning to have arthritis in my hands, I’ve been using the biking gloves you recommended. Their padding works just fine. Mark, age 87, doesn’t need them.

People sometimes tease me.”Are you waiting for snow?” I grin and reply, “I’m just down from the Alps.” Other friends ask me how to get poles for themselves. I don’t feel qualified to give medical advice, so Mark and I have donated both of your videos and several sets of poles to the Therapy Department here at Uplands Village, our continuing care retirement home. They plan to give a demonstration at the next Executive Chat.

Mark and I will tell about the lovely hike we just had, up and down the rocky hillside and along the bubbling creek. We do live in a beautiful, park-like spot.

See how your good work is spreading! Many, many thanks for your personal interest in my staying healthy and active.   Love and a hug,  Jane”

Back Strengthening – Bird Dog

April 9, 2016 by  
Filed under Coaching, Fitness & Health

Whenever I hear that someone has occasional back pain, I think of this exercise.  It’s a great back strengthener and is an excellent foundation helping people get ready for more strenuous exercises like planks.

Benefits:

  • Function:    Diagonal patterning, getting up and down from floor, Shoulder ROM (range of motion)
  • Balance:      Core work
  • Strength:     Back, core as well as weight bearing for the arms
  • Flexibility:   Elongating each arm and leg away from the body helps create length and stretches the muscles

The Set up – Start On All 4’s

  • Hands directly under shoulders, fingers spread
  • Notice that all 4 points of contact feel even
  • Engage your shoulder blades down away from your ears; keep your arms straight throughout the entire sequence.
  • Your head should remain neutral (this is best for your neck and means that you’ll be looking either down or just slightly in front of you).
  • This starting position is your neutral or reset that you honor in between each and every part of the movement.

Part 1 – The Form

The purpose of this initial movement is to establish optimal form in each reaching arm and leg.  Do this initial sequence each time you do bird dog.   Just one set activates the muscles and sets the stage for a better bird dog.

  • Extend L arm straight overhead/forward
  • Point Thumb up and reach thru your fingertips
  • Try to keep the remaining 3 points of contact (R arm and both knees/lower legs) evenly balanced
  • Hold for 3 breaths as you lengthen your arm
  • Notice how far your upper arm is from your ear
  • Slowly lower your arm back to the even 4 point contact
  • Take 1 to 2 breaths as you notice how the both arms and shoulders feel

Any time you need a break, lower to your forearms into Puppy Play or sit back into Child’s Pose

  • Repeat with R arm
  • (note: each time you do this notice which arm and leg you start with and make sure to alternate so you’re not always starting with the same arm/leg)
  • Extend L Leg straight out behind you
  • Try to keep your hips even
  • Flex your foot and push thru your heel (strongly flexing the foot facilitates a lower leg/Achilles and calf stretch and engages/strengthens the shin/tibialis anterior muscles
  • “Activating” the leg engages hip and leg muscles
  • Hold for 3 relaxed breaths
  • Notice the remaining 3 points of contact (both arms and other leg) and try to keep them evenly balanced
  • Slowly lower your leg back to All 4’s.
    Take 1 to 2 breaths as you notice how the both arms and shoulders feel
  • Repeat with R Leg

Part 2 – The Sweep

  • Gently sweep your L arm and R leg out at the same time until you reach the end point you had in Part 1
  • Once you reach the end point – the longest length from your fingertips to your heel, slowly lower the arm and leg back down
  • Repeat other side
  • Do this sweeping movement twice on each side
  • Remember to rest in between movements and only move on to the next Part when you’re ready for additional challenge.

Part 3 – The Hold

  • Extend opposite arm and leg out, reaching the fingers overhead and straightening the leg, pushing thru the heel, as in Part 2,
  • Hold for 1 to 2 breaths
  • Slowly lower
  • Repeat other side
  • Do each side 3 times

As this gets easier hold for 3, then 5 breaths, then 8 – up to 10 to 15 long, relaxed breaths (approximately 1 minute)

 

Staying Active, Fit AND Maintaining Muscle

You work hard to stay fit and active.

You hike, but do you strength train?  If so, are you doing everything you can to HOLD ONTO your muscles?

“Bodyweight underestimates body fat during the aging process because adults lose 5 to 7 lbs of muscle every decade of life unless they perform regular strength exercises.”

“Perhaps the main reason that diets do not work over the long term is that up to 25% of the weight lost on low-calorie diets is muscle tissue….muscle loss leads to a reduction in resting metabolic rate, which greatly increases the difficulty of maintaining the weight loss.”

“Several studies have demonstrated greater strength and muscle gains when extra protein is consumed just before or just after the weight workout.”

**A growing body of research has found that another way to increase protein synthesis is to consume some protein right after strength training.  This doesn’t call for protein supplements – a cup of milk or yogurt after a workout may be enough.**

Above in quotes are excerpts from Chapter 10 of the manual Fitness Professional’s Guide to Strength Training Older Adults.

Above in ** is taken from the UC Berkeley Wellness Letter, Nov 2015 issue

These 2 excellent resources are saying the SAME thing.

And then there’s the question of whether or not you’re doing the BEST exercises for YOU.  That’s another blog post, but the word that describes doing the most efficient, most beneficial exercises for YOU (including the concept of injury prevention) – is programming.  It’s what trainers do for their clients.  Form matters!

 

Improving Balance

What body part is

  1. critically important for balance?
  2. largely ignored?
  3. incredibly responsive to minimal attention?

Hint:  It’s a joint

Give yourself a moment to consider the answer (unless you know immediately).   Click on the link only after you’ve worked the question a bit – please.

NYTimes Article

Limited ROM (range of motion) of this joint can significantly affect your balance.  So, if you have limited ROM, you can improve your ROM and, consequently, your balance within a very short period of time – like magic (really!)

Pole Etiquette, Safety and READ BEFORE you Borrow My Poles

September 17, 2015 by  
Filed under Pole Tips, Poles, Uncommon Sense

The other day a participant in my class was walking and eating an apple with her poles dangling in front of her.  My immediate response was – STOP!  Please don’t walk with your poles dangling down because you can trip on them.  I know this because I have (several times) gotten all mixed up – poles, legs, hiking – yikes!

Then it registered to me that she was EATING an apple.  She was borrowing my top end, foam grip poles.  They’re discontinued and I have only a few pairs left to loan or sell.

This put me in the VERY uncomfortable position of having to ask her to please finish her apple and wipe off her hands before she resumed with my poles.  She completely understood and was gracious.   I loan gear and people expect it to be CLEAN.

Please, if you are a participant in one of my classes, consider that bananas, apples, sticky energy bars, etc.  do not mix well with high-performing pole grips.  Sticky grips – yick!

 

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