We Will Create – 2012 – January

This is the January update for my WeWillCreate project for 2012. The first post with complete description is here.

My brainstorming led me to a good plan, shown in this picture, but I had to adjust some of the months for the projects. I think I’ll be adjusting a few others so that they fall during time when they fit best.

In January, I had some quite unexpected expenses that put on hold any project that would cost more than five dollars. I decided to switch the January and February projects.

It doesn’t really change anything except that I won’t have a solar USB charger available for a while and that I won’t have January as a ‘training ground’ to get into better shape to go on long hikes. Anyway, without further ado, here is the January Update. Ok, I lied … I have one further ado: Just a random thought, but why is it that some people write “without further adieu?” I looked it up and found this interesting.

A difficult journey is more revealing of character than any discussion or analysis. – me

Hiking! Well, let’s call it walking for now. I guess the story starts quite a long time ago. I was in Cub Scouts (meaning little Boy Scouts) when I was a kid and I remember vividly hiking and camping around a nearby lake. I especially liked the times when we were allowed a bit of freedom to explore. I later found out that those were the times when the dads could sit around the fire and relax since 7 year olds run them down after about 2 hours. But for me it was the freedom to go off and explore. Always with a buddy, but really free to just wander. I loved to get lost and find a new path back. I never really got lost. I seem to have a natural sense of direction and I’ll somehow know the general idea even without familiar landmarks. But finding that path through the brush and trees could be tricky.

I have a tremendous heart … and a tremendous drive … and a tremendously messed up back!

In the interest of keeping the focus on the January project, I put the sob story in a different post for anyone that is interested. The short version is this: I damage my spine about ten years ago in a work related accident … L4 and L5 … discs ruptured … nerves pinched … stuff like that. It’s been a painful ten years.

The thing I figured out is that taking a journey that requires physically carrying yourself and your supplies somewhere has a tremendous reward. There is something very special about finding a way to continue when it feels like another step isn’t possible. This has been one of the guiding principles in my life.

When I think I can’t go anymore, I go anyway. When something is impossible, I do it anyway. – me on a Monday

So I’ve been battling this back injury for over ten years, then, suddenly, it was over. In November, I could walk and … just keep walking. I could walk for hours. Of course, my legs are out of shape and I’m not used to exercising this much. But I can walk. And so I walked. And I walked more. And still more … and my back doesn’t hurt. My legs don’t get shaky or cramp up. I can still feel the back injury if I do something awkward or stressful, but normal walking is ok.

So over the Christmas break I decided to really give it a try. I got a pedometer app for my phone and I walked. I walked for miles and miles. I got blisters on my feet once after a six hour walk in work boots. I got leg cramps a few times. But still my back didn’t hurt.

Exercise not only tones the muscles, but also refines the brain and revives the soul. – me revived

Anyone that has ever exercised regularly knows that wonderful feeling you get when you just get in the zone. You go along for a while, it hurts for a bit, you start to feel like slowing down but you just concentrate on the steps, or in my case, on the music I always have with me. Then it hits you: this incredible exhilaration that propels everything faster.

For me, after about 15 minutes, I start to feel comfortable. After about an hour, my body seems to hit this zone and from then on I can go for hours and just enjoy. I think an hour is a bit slower than I remember, but I’m out of shape and older. I feel strong and powerful.

I feel like my blood is really pumping and my muscles, after a long period of unemployment, are eagerly back on the job. – me exhilarated 

The longest walk I went on recently was 7.75 hours, and this was just after 2 days of 5 hours each. I haven’t felt this good in years … really. Now that holidays are over and I’m back at work, I can’t take quite as much time for three days in a row like that, but I’ll find room.

The little pedometer app has been wonderful at tracking my progress. The app stores my data on a map so I can see exactly where I went and when. It keeps all of the interesting details about elevation, speed, distance, etc. I find that I walk about 2 miles per hour when I’m easy and relaxed. I can go up to 3 or 4 miles per hour and really get to feel like I’m working.

I have no idea if this is ‘good’ or not on any scale as I have nobody to compare to, but it is good for me. – me not caring

I haven’t found any distance I couldn’t walk yet and I’m really getting excited thinking about the possibilities. I watched a documentary about the Appalachian Trail and I follow a blog about a couple that are hiking the pacific coast. I’m just excited that I can actually consider doing something like that again. So this month I decided to make it a habit to walk regularly in preparation for a more rugged hike of some real distance.

My first small goal was to walk three times a week for at least an hour. One handy thing is that I have a break in the morning at work that is just a bit over an hour. So I’ve been tracking my walks so far and here are the gritty details, including the last week of December and all of January.

I walked for 45 hours! Really that’s over an hour a day on average. Crazy how it adds up.

I walked 42 miles! Wow, that’s a long way to walk. I’m gonna wear out my shoes.

This averages to only 0.93 mph, but the timer includes the time when I stop to take pictures, shop, get a drink, etc. I wander a lot. I enjoy my ADD tremendously. When I actually look at the real walking time, I travel about 2 mph. It is a relaxed pace for me. I get my heart rate up somewhat towards the target zone. I don’t get out of breath or anything like that. I’m  really interested in taking it easy so my back can continue to get stronger.

I have supplies, too. You know a guy can’t do any hobby without buying new stuff. I got a new backpack and a lightweight jacket so I can carry several layers with me in case the weather changes. I’ll be working on my solar USB charger soon and then I’ll be ready for anything!

It is nice to know what my pace is. I can now look at a map and know how long it will take me to hike a certain distance in flat terrain, on average. Just knowing this lets me think about options for the future hiking. My next plan is to hike around the Devil’s Punchbowl and then back at Vasquez Rocks again. After that, I want to head out to Mojave and really drag some water bottles around. Now I just need to find someone who likes to hike to keep me company!

Some of the things I know for sure at the start of this journey I will find foolish and completely wrong at the end.  – me

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  1. I loved this post. I’m SO inspired by your walking journey… that is something that so many of us take for granted a great deal… the ability to be able to walk pain-free. It really got me thinking about doing some walks like this myself. I cannot believe you walked for over 7 straight hours! That is WAY impressive and I can just imagine how enjoyable it was! Keep it up. I truly love reading your blog, I get lost in your writing! =)


    1. Understand that when I walk for 7 hours, I do much random stuff along the way. I stop to take pictures, find a better song to listen to, or grab a new water bottle. The actual walking was probably about 6 hours. Thanks, though =)


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