The Hardest Hike I've Ever Done + Muscle Pump Monday
Happy start of a new week, guys! I hope everyone had a fantastic weekend! I'm still trying to decide if mine was awesome or not. I woke up with some lingering exhaustion from yesterday's crazy hike, plus some leg soreness that is something serious. That's why I'm ditching the cardio this week and helping you guys out by hitting you with a major arm burner.
Obviously, I'm prepping you for all that holiday shopping right around the corner. This is functional fitness at it's finest, y'all. Keep reading to the end of this post for an upper body workout to help you chase that pump!
We started this weekend off RIGHT, with an amazing dinner at Root Down in the Highlands neighborhood of Denver. I love this place because they focus their menu around organic, natural, and locally-sourced ingredients. They also have their own on-site garden that they harvest seasonal vegetables from! How cool is that?? They have an ever-changing seasonal menu, so I can't wait to go back another day to see what changes they've made. On Friday night, I ordered their roasted cauliflower dish, which was incredible:
And the Lamb Porterhouse for my entree:
I was thoroughly impressed with everything I ordered. I was honestly salivating over everyone's orders as they came out, so basically I need to go back enough times to try everything on the menu at least once. I hear they also have a fantastic happy hour, so we may need to check that out one day as well.
Saturday was our more relaxing day, because we planned to wake up at 2:15am to get ready to hike the Decalibron trail. The Decalibron allows you to summit 4 different 14ers (Democrat, Cameron, Lincoln, and Bross) over the course of an 8 mile loop. Sunday morning, we left at 3am for the mountains, and even convinced a couple friends to brave this adventure with us.
We got to the trailhead around 5:30am, about 90 minutes before sunrise. It was pretty chilly when we started, but little did we know we were about to be pounded with 50mph winds for the next 3 hours and feel like we were freezing to death.
The winds and the steady incline made the trip up to the first peak much harder than expected. When we finally reached the top of Bross around 7:20, we were all overjoyed to find a rock shelter to hide from the winds for a few minutes. We had breakfast (I had a PB&J) behind the rocks, then headed out across the ridge to the next peak.
We passed some snow on the way over to Lincoln. Colorado had a pretty crazy winter last year, so there are still a bunch of snow caps left on top of the mountains. This was the first time I saw them up close. Later on in the hike, the cutest little white terrier passed us on the climb (a testament to that little guy's fitness level: beast). He was crushing those rocks like it was his job. His owner told him to grab a drink of water, and he ran over to one of the snow patches, leapt into it, and took turns munching on the snow and rolling around in it. It was awesome. He was such a little mountain dog.
We made it to the second peak, Lincoln about 45 minutes later, and finally got a break from the wind. We took it as an opportunity to sit and relax, as well as hear each other speak words for once. The views were pretty stellar too.
The third summit on Cameron happened almost without me even knowing it, because it was so close to Lincoln. I was also so happy that we only had one more peak to hit. Then, I looked up at this bullshit and almost cried:
We literally had to hike down, and I'm talking WAY down, to hike all the way back up. Once we got down to the bottom of the saddle, there was a bail out trail back to the parking lot. Our friends decided to call it a day, and I don't blame them one bit. It had been a HELL of a morning, dealing with the crazy winds and, subsequently, the freezing temps. Shawn and I made the decision to keep going, because we didn't want to come back to do this mountain again.
After much effort, and several internal pep talks along the way, we finally made it to the top. We may look happy in this summit picture, but we were both in pain and ready to get the heck out of there. I still can't get over these pictures though:
Even though the morning started out horribly with the wind, it turned out to be a gorgeous day.
The hike down was a complete blur. I think we were both so exhausted and ready to be home, that we weren't all there. I did remember to snap a picture of the beautiful lake that we started from. It's appropriately named Kite Lake.
All-in-all, I am happy to say that we knocked those four 14ers off our list, but I can't say I would ever want to do that one again. Peace out Mt. Democrat, you will not be missed.
I celebrated this grueling 6-hour hike with a big ol' Chipotle bowl and a pint of peanut butter and jelly Halo Top. By the way, that flavor is LEGIT. You should definitely give it a try sometime if you're looking for a dessert that won't leave you feeling like complete crap the next day. Halo Top is the jam.
The headache I experienced on our last 14er returned. Anyone know how to make those stop? I drink plenty of water along the way, so I'm assuming it's from the altitude. Maybe I just need more time to acclimate? That is seriously the most frustrating thing about hiking for me. I can deal with it, because it's completely gone the next day after sleeping through the night, but the whole day yesterday was miserable. Hit me with your tips on avoiding headaches at altitude!
The plan for our next challenge is Longs Peak. At nearly 15 miles long, this will be our longest hike yet. It also includes tons of challenging features including rock scrambles, bouldering, climbing, navigating the narrows, and more that I am completely terrified for. Wish me luck. If I live to tell the tale on this one, I'm celebrating hard.
Alright, enough about all this cardio crap. Let's talk about some weightlifting. I promise I still lift weights too! I couldn't ever stay away from a barbell now; I love it too much. Plus, building muscle has SO many benefits that there is no logical reason for not doing it. I am hoping to do a post soon all about the benefits of strength training, so stay tuned!
Without further ado, jump on the strength training bandwagon and give this upper body workout a go. All you need is a set of dumbbells (and an optional pull-up bar), so grab yourself a set and get to work! Let me know if you try it out, and enjoy the pump!
Pull-ups/DB rows: If you have access to a pull-up bar, do strict pull-ups- that means no kipping! If you don't have a strict pull-up yet, substitute assisted pull-ups using a machine, bands, or a partner to help! If you don't have any of those things that I just mentioned, that is A-OK, friend. You can sub bent over dumbbell rows with a set of dumbbells instead! If you are doing these, make sure to keep your back flat, core tight while bent over, and keep those elbows in tight to your sides as you pull the dumbbells up towards your chest.
DB bench press: Grab those dumbbells again and lie on a flat bench or the ground on your back. Press them up over the center of your chest until your arms are fully extended (elbows locked out). Then, slowly lower them back down over your chest, coming slightly outwards toward your armpits at the bottom of the lift. Continue this motion for all 12 reps!
Dips: Any kind a dip works here! You can perform bench dips (bent or straight legs), stationary bar dips (assisted or not), ring dips, etc. Pick your poison, because they all get the job done!
DB strict press: Make sure you are performing full range of motion on these, meaning the dumbbells should start even with your shoulders at the bottom, and come to a fully locked out position overhead. Keep your elbows in and allow them to come down in front of your chest as you lower the weights down. Do not allow your elbows to turn out.
DB alternation bicep curls: Classic body builder move here! Keep it simple with hammer curls, and alternate arms for 12 total reps (6 per side).
Pike push-ups: Your starting position for this movement looks like you are creating a triangle with your body. Hands should be placed on the ground, shoulder width apart. Head is in a neutral position, not straining through the neck. Feet should be walked in towards your hands to a point where you feel a slight stretch through your hamstrings, butt up towards the ceiling-hence, the triangle. Lower your head slowly towards the ground until it lightly touches the mat or ground just in front of your hands. Then, pressing through your shoulders, raise your body back up to your starting position, maintaining that pike (or triangle) position throughout the entire movement. It these are too difficult to perform, substitute regular push-ups, or complete push-ups from your knees!