Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Colorado January 2014 the last of the training for Kilimanjaro

Most of what you are about to read is TRUE!

All Pictures are at the bottom

Grandma Molasses decided to join me on this trip. Grandma Molasses is on break from her gig in
Hawaii. Free flights again, this time it was easy, a direct flight very early on Saturday the plane was empty we walked right on.

Since we got in to Denver early We decided to meet up with Ross and Sue in Colorado Springs and do some touristy stuff. First stop Cave of the Winds. Cave of the Winds is a large under ground cave that was discovered in 1881. Tours are given every half hour and well worth the price of admission. Which in our case with Grandma Molasses serving in the military, was a little less than what normal
folks would pay. Our guide was very knowledgeable as well as quick witted. We spent about an hour on the tour which should normally last about 30 minutes. Ross wondered off and got stuck in a crevice. We finally found him, or should I say we found his feet. It took us about 15 minutes to dig him out. I am not sure we will be invited back.

The day was getting late we decided one more quick stop at Garden of the Gods National Park. It had been over 30 years since I had been here. The park was just as exciting to see as it was 30 years ago, though a little smaller, the rocks that is. The rocks are very soft and between the winds and rains are slowly wearing away. You can see the evidence of this by the red soil.

We walked through the park before heading home.

This week should be a great week for skiing. My goal this week is to spend a lot of time at 10,000 feet or higher. This will help me with the Kilimanjaro hike, I know I am strong enough, what I do not know is how my body will react to the altitude.

Skiing is a perfect venue for my training. It was Sunday and Grandma Molasses and I headed to Copper Mountain. Normally a one hour ride, with the snow coming down it took two hours. On our arrival we meet up with Brendan an old flame of Grandma Molasses's from a past life. The weather
was perfect, heavy snow, high winds, and zero degree temperatures.

I had not thought of training for the harsh weather conditions we would face when we summit Kilimanjaro. Though I was thinking about it now. The conditions today are helping me make sure I would have the proper layers on for the climb.

As we took our first run we realized between the wind and snow, visibility was about 20 feet. If one of us got more then 20 feet from the other we would just disappear. Grandma Molasses wanted to start out on a green, but made a wrong turn and headed down Jacques Peak, a more technical blue that had not been groomed. Grandma Molasses's first run of the day was down a
technical blue with 6 inches of powder covering fairly difficult moguls. She made it down with flying colors. Brendan was on a snow board and was loving the perfect conditions.

The resort was empty, especially for a Sunday, not sure why, maybe the blizzard type conditions were keeping the wimpy away. We skied for most of the day just one hot chocolate break.

The toughest part of the day was the drive home, 3 hours. The roads were fine just the idiots in their two wheel drive cars trying to go up steep snow covered mountain roads. They were stuck everywhere slowing traffic down to a crawl.

Day two, was another great day of skiing, it had snowed all night and was continuing to snow. Sue was joining us today on her snow board. There was now 12 to 18 of fresh powder and skiing was great. It was a little warmer and not as windy. Still great training weather and I was spending most of the day above 10,000 feet.

Day three, today we decided to tube instead of ski. Patrick, Scrappy, and Oregon were joining us. As we headed to the tubing place which is out route 40 we saw warning signs for avalanche prevention. Shortly after seeing the signs we found out the avalanche prevention turned into avalanche creation. Yes, the blast created an avalanche that covered route 40. Time for a U turn. Copper mountain also had tubing so we headed west on Interstate 70. As we got closer and closer to the Eisenhower Tunnel the weather and road got worse and worse until it was near white out conditions. Cars stopped, just parked right on the interstate. We would later find out that this was the worst road conditions in 40 years.

We made the decision to turn around and get a ice cream at the Dairy King and lunch at Cactus Jacks.
The rest of the day was just rest and relaxation.

Big news today, Scrappy and Oregon got engaged. There was a big celebration Oregon even cut Scrappy's hair for the event. These two are so in love.

Today Ross and Sue decided to go skiing with Grandma Molasses and I. The weather is picture perfect, 28 degrees, sunny, plus 18 inches of fresh snow from the last 3 days.

Ross and Sue are over the moon with the news of Scrappy's engagement to Oregon. Sue is already in wedding planning mode, not sure she realizes that
is the brides responsibility to plan the wedding. The whole drive to the ski resort was talk about the wedding and what she was going to wear.

Once we arrive Ross told me today would be the day I give up skiing. For the life of me I could not think of a reason I would give up skiing. Ross then handed me a brand new top of the line Burton snow board along with custom fit boats. With this new equipment he said, "Today you learn to ride!" The first thing I noticed was how easy it was to get the snowboard boots on and how comfortable they were.

The second thing I noticed was how it is impossible to get off the ski lift without falling flat on your face. Comfortable feet vs. looking like a fool!

My first run took two hours. Ross and Sue were very patience. Grandma Molasses gave up on me and went to ski with Brendan. My guess is, I took 30 - 40 falls during the 2 hours it took me to get down the mountain. The falling is not so bad especially with the soft fresh snow. What was tough was getting back up, all abdominal muscles. Not my strong suit.

One run down! I felt bad for Ross and Sue, I suggest they do a run on their own, I would join them on the next one. In reality I just needed a break / rest.

Time for my second run of the day. I learned how to get off the ski lift, just sit on your board , or should I say, when you fall off the lift, end up sitting on your board.

The second run only took 35 minutes and I would guess I fell 5 to 10 times. I developed my ability to turn. I would just fall and get up facing the opposite direction.

My falls were less frequent but harder as I was able to go faster, the faster you go the harder you fall.
The temperature had drop so the snow was harder.

Two runs was enough for me. We headed to the lodge, I was happy with boarding and knew I had a big learning curve before I would master the sport. We hung out waiting on Grandma Molasses, it appears she has rekindled the flame with Brendan and was not looking to leave anytime soon.

Sue finally put the pressure on Grandma Molasses to meet up with us. We had a wedding planning dinner to get to.

Scrappy and Oregon joined us for the wedding planning dinner. It was nice that Sue is allowing the bride and groom to be involved with the planning of their own wedding. It is a good thing Sue has taken charge. We learned at the wedding planning dinner that Oregon is not going to tell her parents about the engagement and wedding plans until after the wedding.

We went to a great Sushi restaurant in Downtown Denver. Grandma Molasses had another dude meet us at the restaurant. I think the saying "A sailor in every port." applies to Grandma Molasses. Grandma Molasses can sure pick dudes that are all very nice, clean (yep they shower), and polite.

Hot Dog whose real name is Nathan, is the heir to the Nathan Hot Dog empire. Thus the nick name Hot Dog. From what we could gather Grandma Molasses and Hot Dog had been married at some point. Reading between the lines, in order for Hot Dog to get his inheritance he had to be married by the age of 24. Grandma Molasses was willing to help out. They had a 24 hour quick marriage started and ended in Vegas.

We spent so much time hearing about Grandma Molasses and Hot Dog's wedding day that there was no time to plan Scrappy and Oregon's wedding. Sue was not happy about that.

I am heading back East for my last and final prep for Tanzania and the hike up Kilimanjaro. I hope I am ready.




Friday, January 10, 2014

Tucson January 2014

All Picture at the bottom

Over the last 3 and half months I have hiked over 141 miles and climbed over 35,000 feet in elevation. I have ventured to many places throughout the United States. The Delaware Water Gap -
New Jersey, many state parks in Eastern Pennsylvania, Yosemite National Park - California, The Rocky Mountains - Colorado, Old Rag Mountain - Shenandoah National Park - Virginia, and today Canyon Ranch - Tucson, Arizona. This is all for my training to hike Mount Kilimanjaro in Eastern Africa come February.

It has been two years since I have made the Trek out to visit Chephart Yosh, I am looking forward to the visit. Margarite will be meeting me as she too feels the need for some additional training. While I am sure we will get some nice hikes in. We also plan to get in a lot of strength training. Though the highlight of the visit, as always is spending time
with Chephart Yosh.

Some of the classes we plan to take are: Buff Your Booty, Abs Express, to name a couple. There is a class I am hoping to attend, on the Human Metabolism, given by the famous physiologist and good friend Mike Siemens.

Flying from the East Coast to Tucson is not an easy feat, no direct flights. I chose a flight that had a connection through Dallas. This is the first time I am using my free flying strategy on a connecting flight. As usual I picked an empty flight. The only snafu, a snow storm the day before the flight. This snow storm caused a lot of flight cancelations. My flight was fine, but all the flights to Dallas the day before had been canceled. The people on the canceled flights were rebooked on my flight. I was sure I would be caught with my
fake boarding pass. To play it safe I got to the airport early and boarded early.

Five minutes before the flight was to take off, all was good. The flight was packed, I do not think there was an empty seat left, the flight attendants were franticly getting everybody seated for an on time departure.

All of a sudden I saw one last passenger get on the plane. I was in row 8 seat A, the window. I normal do not like window seats, but I thought the harder I make it for the flight attendants to get me off the plane, the better for me.

As the passenger walked up the aisle I tried to avoid eye contact. Unfortunately this passenger made it impossible, he was staring me down. As I looked up I was stuck, I could not turn away. Rather
gruffly he said," I think you are in my seat!". Rather then answer, I just showed him my artfully created boarding pass. This boarding pass, boldly displayed the logo proving I was an American Airlines Million Mile Member. It is amazing what logos you can find on the internet.

The flight attendant saw there was an issue. Trying to resolve the issue as quick as possible, she took both boarding passes and went forward with the stray passenger. Let's call him Harry. As they walked forward I heard Harry explaining he was on standby for this flight, his scheduled flight the day before had been canceled. He went on to explain / complain he had slept in the airport and really needed to get home to see his family.

I sat there nervously, not knowing who would return, the police, TSA, maybe even the FBI. Ten minutes went by, we now missed our on departure time, I could hear a bit of a commotion up front. Apparently Harry got belligerent with the flight attendant before she had time to check the computer. The pilot heard what was going on and had security eject Harry from the flight.

My boarding pass was returned to me with an apology from the flight attendant. She mentioned that a million miler should not have to deal with situations like this. Crisis adverted!

I made it to Tucson, This was the fifth flight using my free flying strategy, I am not sure how far I should push my luck. Margarite met me at the airport, where we were both picked up by Chephart Yosh.

Day One Canyon Ranch -

We meet the hiking guide at 7:00 AM for our 45 minute drive to the King Canyon Trail Head. Today we would be doing an 8 mile hike on a steep trail breaking for lunch at Wasson Peak, then looping back for the return. The weather was perfect 50 degrees and dry. We had nice elevation gain with a total of 2,250 feet. The pace was fast. Somehow we got put into the competitive hiking group. The desert scenery in Tucson is so different than the East Coast and Colorado. We saw every type of cactus imaginable. Coming to Tucson is a great way to break up what can sometimes be monotonous hiking / training.

We returned from our hike at 1:30 PM just in time for some muscle toning classes. Our first class was Muscle Max. Muscle Max is pretty much what you would think, 45 minutes of maxing out your muscles. What a great workout after a strenuous 8 mile hike.

We are not done yet, next class Buff Your Booty - again just what you might think, 45 minutes of glut muscle exercises. Yep, I was the only male in the class. And I am glad I went. When hiking inclines,
you uses your gluts. I am sure I will be happy, I went to this class, as I summit Kilimanjaro.

It was now 4:00 PM, I was starting to run out of gas. We decided to take it easy and for our last class we took Stretch and Relax. I think I might have falling asleep toward the end of class.

Chephart Yosh had arrange for Alan Sudweeks to join us for Dinner. You may have heard of Alan Sudweeks he is a famous Mountaineer, who has summited all the major peaks in the world including Kilimanjaro several times. Alan Sudweeks was a wealth of knowledge and really helped boost our confidence.

What a great day, the only disappointment was we were not able to attend the class on Human Metabolism, given by the famous Exercise Physiologist and friend, Mike Siemens

Day Two Canyon Ranch -

There are no challenging hikes today. How can we abuse, I mean strengthen our bodies? Classes, lots of classes.

First up, Killer Thrills and Drills, this class is as much a strength trading class as a class in coordination, which I clearly was lacking. What a great class, box jumps, ladder runs, plus much more.

Next, Extreme Core Work Out - yep, just what you might think, we worked every muscle that connects to the spinal column, from the shoulders down to the legs. It was extreme!

Time for class number three, TRX Advanced, Rodney taught this class and took no mercy on us. He
could careless that we had already completed two classes. The only way I made it through class was thinking, lunch is next, lunch is next, lunch is next...

Finally Lunch - Lunch and Learn - this is a class that does not involve working out, the chef demonstrates healthy ways of cooking. The best part; at the end of class you get to eat what the chef made. We had barbecue chicken, green beans, over corn bread. Excellent lunch, and a great way to recharge for the afternoon.

Next, Boxing Class - we did about 20 minutes of boxing calisthenics, which included three rounds of three minutes of jumping rope. After the calisthenics, we beat on the heavy bag for a half hour. My
arms felt as heavy as lead, I was official cooked.

I was done, off to the showers I went, hot tub, cold tub, steam room, and shower. Next stop BED!

Day Three Canyon Ranch -

We chose to hike Blackett's Trail which is a short but sweet hike. Only 6 miles in length (3 miles each way) with over 2,000 feet of elevation gain / loss each way. Another fast hike, great for our training.

We had lunch when on our returned to Canyon Ranch, then off for a quick swim. I had an appointment at 3:00 PM with Mike Siemens. Mike Siemens is a friend and Director of Exercise Physiology at Canyon Ranch. Since I missed his class on Sunday I thought I would impose on our
friendship and get a private class.

The reason for the appointment is to make sure I am in perfect physical shape for our climb. Yes, I am taking this hike seriously. Mike gave me a complete exam. The outcome, not good. I have a body fat percentage of 21%, good would be 15%, optimal 10%.

Now what do I do? Without getting into a lot of detail, Mike feels I will be fine for the hike, but he would like to see me lose 7 to 10 lbs of body fat over the next 3-4 months. How do I do this?

Increase my calories from protein, while decreasing my calories from fat and carbohydrates. Run a deficit of 500 calories a day. Increase the weight (greater than 100lbs) I squat and do 3-4 sets of 10 -12 reps several times a week. Increase my lean muscle mass by 5 lbs, with a focus on my shoulders. Get blood test as a bench mark for certain traits. Check back in 3-4 months.

All this talk about diet, made me hungry and it was getting close to dinner time. Alan Sudweeks joined us again. It is always a pleasure dining with Alan Sudweeks, his experiences are just phenomenal.

Day 4 Canyon Ranch -

Today we will be departing. Our flight is delayed about an hour. I had not thought of this scenario when devising my free flight strategy. If this was a direct flight, a delay would be a positive thing as delayed flight typically are less crowded, and no one notices an extra passenger. With a connecting flight this is an issue. I now only had 5 minutes to make my connecting flight. Sure there was another
flight 3 hours later, but what do I do? Go up to the gate agent and say, "Can I change this fake boarding pass in for a real one on the next flight". I do not think so.

I landed in Dallas with just 5 minutes to make my connection. If you have ever been to the Dallas Fort Worth Airport you know it was designed when gas was 33 cents a gallon and airport security was unheard of. Great design back then, today not so good. There was no way I could make it from gate A 10 to gate C 31 in 20 minutes let alone 5.

The next flight that would work for me was in three hours. Guess what, the Dallas Forth Worth Airport had free wireless. Using my iPad I took a picture of my current / no longer any good / fake boarding pass. Using a free Photoshop app I change the picture to reflect the flight in 3 hours, looking on the airlines website for open seating.

Done - the new boarding pass looks perfect. Now how do I print it out. I guess I can just show my iPad screen, but I was not familiar with the correct format and did not want to take a chance. I saw a kid, not more than 5 years old, playing with some kind of electronic tablet with a printer attached. He would drawing on the tablet and then print out the picture for his folks.

I could see the wifi for the printer, so I hopped on and when he was not printing I hit print, and printed my newly created boarding pass.

As the boarding pass printed the child look very confused. I walked over with a similar confused look and said, "Oh, there is my boarding pass." I got a very strange look from the parent, I just grabbed my pass and walked off. Crisis adverted, again!

The flight was flawless and the price was perfect.

Next I am heading back to Colorado for additional altitude conditioning. With just three weeks before I leave for Africa my training is starting to taper.