Mark and I hiked to Angels Rest today, in the Columbia River Gorge. What a beautiful hike! The trail is 2.3 miles to the top, with an elevation gain of 1500 feet. This was perfect, as we need to be training on hills for our August hike up Mount St. Helens.
We set out this morning at 10:00 am. The temperature was cool and enjoyable for hiking. Most of the trail is in the shade, but we enjoyed the sun on the talus slopes.
After lunch we relaxed a bit, then headed back down the trail. And on the hike down, I learned to do something I have never been good at: hiking downhill!
It's hard to appreciate how cool this is, if you're not a middle-aged hiker with iffy knees. Usually, even though I pick my way carefully down the trail, my knees start hurting before I get to the bottom, and they ache for the next couple of days. It's actually more uncomfortable for me to hike downhill than uphill -- downhill is much harder on the joints.
On the way up, Mark mentioned that he had been trying to use his glutes to help with the uphill climb, and I told him I had been doing that, too. From taking yoga, and doing the Curves workouts, I am learning to pay more attention to specific muscle areas in my body.
Well, on the way down, Mark was hiking behind me at one point, and he said, "Use your large muscles." I thought to myself, how can I use my glutes when I'm going downhill?
I'm not quite sure how it happened, but the next thing I knew, I was taking l-o-n-g steps, making sure to use my glute muscles to extend my stride. In order to make that work, I had to suck in my belly button, which shifted my center of gravity just a little.
All of a sudden, going downhill was so much easier! And faster! And because I was taking longer steps, I was taking fewer steps, which meant less wear and tear on my joints! Wow!!!
Three hours later, I'm still not sore. Just a little tired. And I can't wait for my next hike with Mark!