For two weeks we toured around the Mid-Atlantic states seeing monuments, museums, and Civil War battlefields. We walked a lot, up to 10 miles a day, but it was pretty much flat. The most elevation we gained was about 1,800 feet. That's only 180 feet a mile. Heck, the the high point of D.C. is only 409 feet high! Compare that with a trip like Alta Mountain that is closer to 9.5 miles and 3,700 feet of gain topping out at 6,200 feet. Twice as steep. A billion times higher. Sounds like fun.
Except that basically sitting on my butt for two weeks let me lose my edge. (If I ever had an edge.) So instead of having a nice easy walk to a spectacular peak I found myself desperate for a deep breath. Treen was right there with me. She panted more than usual and not just from the heat. (She didn't get to go to the East Coast, but she wasn't getting out as often as she would have had I been home.)
By the time we got to our first waypoint we were gassed. By the time we got to the next spot we were dying. For the long traverse we loped comfortably along and then started the long, relentless climb to the summit. The only thing that saved us was an early start and the ability to rest without worrying about being caught by fellow Thursday night hikers.
Alta is known as having multiple false summits, but they just build anticipation for the true summit. Although there are views all the way up the exposed ridge I usually don't recognize the awesomeness of where I am until I'm done climbing. When I do look around, the views make up for all the pain and suffering on the way up.
The lesson here is obviously never to leave home. Wait. Actually, the lesson is that you can leave home, but don't just tour museums and walk along streets. Make sure you find a way to stay in shape even when there are no mountains around. And when you figure out how to do it let me know.