Saturday, August 31, 2013

Still Walking

I enjoy our morning walks. Now, don't get me wrong; I don't bounce out of bed each morning eager to beat the pavement, but once I do get going, I enjoy the walk, and I enjoy feeling that I'm keeping fairly fit for a man my age. I don't expect walking to help me lose weight, but I do expect some heart benefits from these walks and I hope to keep my legs in good shape for upcoming hikes. Once cool weather starts moving in, we hope to start hiking again. One upcoming scheduled hike is Enchanted Rock near Fredericksburg next month. We'll meet my brother and his wife there and spend a few hours doing the loop trail at that state park (see Enchanted Rock State Natural Area).

I guess our pace is slowing. Several years ago, I measured the walks we took when we lived in Kilgore, and I found a good 3 mile route for us. We could usually walk this route in less than 55 minutes, usually around 50-51 minutes at our normal pace. This figures out to a mile about every 17 minutes or so, and I've used that as a barometer for recent years in not only our walks but our hikes.

Now, when hiking as compared to walking, you slow a bit. After all, trails aren't the same as walking on paved streets. On trails, you have to avoid roots and rocks and other obstacles. Trails may go up or down hills, and paved streets generally aren't very steep, though I have seen some steep ones in my time. On decent trails with few obstacles, we normally walk a mile every 25 minutes or so (at least, we used to). With stops for photos or just enjoying views, the rough estimate is 2 miles per hour. Long distance hikers (think Appalachian Trail, for example) will top that easily, but for a couple of old folks, 2 mph in the woods isn't bad. And we can sustain that pace for several hours.

But I guess our pace is slowing. Since moving into our new home in April, we had been walking a route I had calculated to be about 3 miles based on the time of 50 minutes or so it took to walk it. Actually, I estimated it probably came up just short of 3 miles, perhaps 2.9 or even 2.8. However, we measured it recently in our car and found it to be just barely 2.6 miles. So, I guess we've lost a little bit in the 8 or so years since I last measured our route and pace.

Since then, we've extended the route by weaving up and down alleys, adding an additional 15 minutes or more to the walk. I haven't measured it yet, but I'm hoping we're up to at least 3 miles now.

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