Jun 11, 2015

Physiological Assessment: First 500 miles

Physiological Assessment: Campo through Tehachapi, 558 miles.
  I admit I was very curious when I began hiking the PCT, what sort of physical changes I could expect from my body from this hike.  How much weight would lose?  How bad would my feet get?  Would I have any issues in higher elevations? 
   After 500 miles of hiking I can tell you I have been affected greatly by the trail.  Here are some of the more dramatic points:


  I began the trail weighing 216 pounds.  My last scale check was at Casa de Luna and, when fully dressed (with some red vines in my mouth for good measure) I clocked in at 196.  My face has hollowed and my stomach has disappeared.  I used to wear 34 waist pants.  I suspect I'm down to around 31.  The extra fat I had on my thighs is gone completely and my overall gait feels lighter and my hiking pants flow much more loosely which, I admit has helped greatly increase the ventilation in my pants. 

Grip strength:

  Probably the most surprising effect that I have noticed is a massive increase in grip and forearm strength. My use of trekking poles ten hours a day is no doubt the cause of this newfound strength.  My grip has become straight-up vice-like and it's awesome. My forearms pulse continually and I find I have to lightly massage the muscles once a day. 

Leg muscles:

My leg muscles have also grown immensely strong.  I can push my way up hills for long periods of time, and now find that an ascension that a few weeks ago might have taken half the day with multiple breaks, are now a piece of cake.
    There's a price for this newfound strength, however.  My legs tense and seize at night and I sometimes wake up in the middle of the night in extreme pain.  I wake up and find myself massaging my quads and calves, sometimes for hours.  It is an absolute curse and can't begin to tell you how difficult it is to sleep with legs muscles that are constantly growing and rebuilding themselves after being torn apart during the day.  I am initiating a very rigorous stretching program to curtail these


    My feet are a mess.  I have blisters upon callouses upon blood blisters.  The muscles in my feet ache constantly, and the arches and pads swell and inflame.  If anyone wanted to deter people from hiking the PCT, the best way would be to show potential hikers photographs of hiker feet.  At this point my feet are numb half the time, and the best way to ease the pain is, believe it or not, to just keep on hiking...

1 comment :

Unknown said...

Excellent analysis. Great job on shedding light on the recuperation process the body goes through. Fascinating that you are reconstructing the foundation of your physical nature on a daily basis. It is a testament to our survivability with the additional mental fortitude you are also enhancing.