Life Changing Hike

It’s now been a month since I received my ExoSyms and I can say with utmost certainty that these babies have made a huge difference, and will continue to do so.

This past month I’ve walked thousands of more steps than I used to and done things I wasn’t sure I’d be able to do again.

At the top of Tunnel Mountain.

Last week I celebrated my 10th anniversary with my husband. We honeymooned in Banff, Alberta, Canada in the Canadian Rockies and have made it a special tradition to go back every five years. On our honeymoon, we did some hiking and I don’t remember it being too terribly rough other than my feet hurt a lot at the end of each day and I limited my hikes to a mile or so each way. My new husband did go on more strenuous hikes alone.

On our fifth anniversary, it was harder. By then I’d had my two kids and my feet hurt a lot more. My husband had to push me to make the hike to the top of Tunnel Mountain in Banff. I remember we only did a few hikes, and they weren’t that long. I spent a lot of time in hot springs and by the pool.

On our 10th anniversary, I blew those two trips away.

Despite only having the ExoSyms three weeks, and knowing full well I was still building muscle, I stood at the bottom of Tunnel Mountain on the first day ready to put these babies to the test. And test it was.

The hike is a little under three miles round trip from where we started, and has an elevation gain of 950 feet. And while some serious hiking guides, sites and apps call it ‘easy,’ I’m here to tell you if an out of shape, sea level dweller in new ExoSyms learning to climb inclines feels this is an “easy” hike, then “hard” would be comparable to burning in hell after being stung by a hive of angry wasps.

For me, inclines are difficult. My glutes, hip flexors, hip abductors, abs and quads (an just about everything else in between) are so very weak from walking different my whole life. Trying to keep my knee bent just enough to dig in with my toes and not snap back and hyper extend for 1.5 miles straight up was rough. I wanted to really bend my knees, which is also wrong. I was sure I’d be suffering knee pain the next day from all the times my knees snapped back.

Add to that when it got really steep my foot would slide out of my shoe randomly, and we had ourselves what we call a challenge.

Luckily I had my trusty walking stick and husband. With breaks to catch my breath, occasional leaning on his arm, the stick for more support, and taking it slow to try to focus on doing it right to save my knees, I made it to the top. It wasn’t pretty, but it was success. And I’m here to tell you every single hike after that was a lot easier.

And for you fashion watchers, notice having small calves means you can wear your ExoSyms under loose fit bootleg cut jeans! Yay for middle age modesty!

I walked all over Banff and on several trails around Banff National Park that week, burning up my activity app. According to it, I walked a total of 31 miles in six days. I’d say that’s a bump up from two miles a day.

I must admit though, the ability to wake up and stumble like a Walking Dead extra to the hot tub every morning was a big help. A good 20-minute stretch in the hot tub, 20 minutes swimming in the pool, another 10 in the hot tub then a hot shower worked out the kinks and any residual stiffness worked out in the first half mile of the hike the next day. I wonder if my insurance would accept a prescription for a hot tub…

What I noticed during all of this was:

  • My muscles hurt, but they hurt in different places each day, illustrating that I was building muscle, not seriously hurting myself.
  • I stood longer, not feeling the need to sit down as much.
  • My feet did start to hurt, but not like they used to and it took much longer before they hurt.
  • I really need true hiking boots as the lift in my left shoe puts my heel too close to the top, making it easier for my shoe to slip off on inclines.
  • Changing up the types of hikes each day helped build endurance without hurting any one muscle group.
  • I felt a lot stronger on the last day. I actually got stronger! On vacation. Without a gym!
  • Despite several hyperextensions, I didn’t hurt my knees.

It was a massive personal achievement for me to be able to enjoy the Canadian Rockies. I wish we’d had more days to hit more trails. I’ll just have to start hitting the Cascades here in Washington as summer begins to wind down.

The icing on the cake was coming into the Hanger Clinic the next Monday for my sixth visit. After working on a few things with me, Jared commented he noticed a big change. I had gotten stronger and it showed. I’m on the right track.

If only I could get excited about this working out in a gym thing. So not my thing.

Chairs placed in random and sometimes remote areas around the Canadian National Parks this year to celebrate 125 years. We found these at a secluded overlook of Howse Pass, miles from the road. Perfect spot to have a quiet moment on our actual anniversary day.  

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