Saturday, August 10, 2013

Day 528-Weigh-in Day: 284.4lbs

--> WEEK 74
Start Weight: 365.4lbs
Last Week: 278.4lbs
Current Weight: 284.4lbs
This Week’s Weight Loss: +6lbs
Total Weight Loss: 81lbs
To Go: 74.4lbs
Miles Biked this Week: 70.06

Total Miles Biked: 2807.15
Miles to Go: 4692.85

GEOGRAPHY (Where I'd be on the map having started at my house in Salt Lake City, Utah, heading for Tokyo):
Pacific Ocean (2070 miles off the west coast. I am heading for the Hawaiian Islands which is 2650 miles from San Diego)

Weekly Bike/Workout Totals
Monday: REST
Tuesday: REST
Wednesday: REST
Thursday: REST
Friday: REST
Saturday: 20.77 miles

The past 7 days have been life changing! I have had a paradigm shift. My outlook on my challenge to Mount Fuji changed so much that my world was flipped upside down. I have been on one of the biggest roller coaster rides. I’m still on that ride and the hills above on the ride are looking bigger and crazier than ever.

Let me try and explain…

Last Saturday morning, I got up at 2am ready to bike to Alpine, Utah (35-miles away). Once in Alpine I was going to meet my brother and hike up to Box Elder Peak. I was more than excited to do this ride, even if it was early.

I woke up, packed my backpack and got everything ready to go. I noticed my back tire was looking a little low so I got out my trusty ole CO2 cartridge and went to top off the air in the tire. BOOM! The Presta valve blew off! I froze. I could not believe what I had just witnessed. Within a nanosecond my day had changed. I didn’t have another tube, and to get to a Walmart that might sell one would put me behind schedule. I needed to arrive in Alpine by 7am.

It was so frustrating, and my excitement fizzled out. As my wife and I talked, we realized that perhaps there had been some divine intervention, and there was a reason this solo ride out into the dark was not supposed to happen. Read on, you’ll see why.

It’s hard to climb back into bed when you’ve had your heart set on riding. Oh well. I took my cycling garb of and tried to go back to bed for a few more hours.

Come 6:00am, the alarm went off and I popped up throw on my hiking clothes and went out the door. I met Dallin around 7am at his house. We gathered some water and a few additional items and drove up to the beginning of the trail.

Dallin had bought me a pair of walking sticks that I can’t recommend enough. It’s like having railings along the side of the trail. Box Elder Peak’s elevation in 11,101 feet. Alpine is already at an elevation of 4950’ so the climb would be about 6100’.

My friend Travis who will be biking with me to Fuji, wisely encouraged me to do a hike before I come to Japan so I could get a feel for what it would be like. I haven’t gone on a serious hike since 1987. 26 years ago! I remember the pain that I went through, but was prepared to experience it. The hike was fairly steep, but had occasional flat areas. I remember feeling so happy to finally walk in level ground through a meadow or an occasional level area. We stopped every half hour or so to take a quick breather, and to drink or munch. I brought along a GoPro and a regular camcorder to be able to videotape the adventure. I’m glad I did because I think it was an epic hike that I will never forget.

We bumped into various Boy Scout groups that had done some over-nighters on the mountain, and other people that were out running part of the trail, or out for a nice early morning hike. None of them was heading to the peak though.

The hike wasn’t terribly bad as I was willing to keep pressing forward despite the tired legs and heavy breathing. I do remember having to stop about every 5-10 minutes to catch my breath. I would get a little light headed and couldn’t figure out what was going on. Looking back now, I think despite eating along the trail, I needed to eat and drink more. The one thing that was working for us was that the temperatures were perfect. It was a nice sunny day, and I would say it was probably about 78 degrees. We got a little burnt, but I’m not complaining.

For some reason I had in my head that this hike was going to be maybe an 8-10 hour round trip. I was wrong. We didn’t even get near the final ascent until around 3pm. Most of the trail has an obviously marked path, but as you get towards the beginning of the hike to the peak, the terrain turns very steep, the trail is harder to see, and you start hiking on shale. It’s slippery, and if you’re not careful, you’ll fall, and possibly even break one of your walking sticks…like I did.

Again, despite rugged and slippery, we kept making our way up. Dallin was patient with me. I think he could have gotten to the top an hour or 2 earlier. He allowed me to take breathers and was a kind hiking companion. Towards the top, Dallin 4-wheeled up to the peak with my video camera and was able to film my reaching the top. It was a fantastic feeling with the most amazing views all the way around! I’ve got a video clip to share with you, but you cannot compare seeing the vista with your own eyes!! All my life I’ve always looked up to Mount Timpanogos and Lone Peak to the North of Alpine, but today I could glance sideways, and a little downward to view those iconic mountain ranges.

I was so glad to be to the top! Box Elder Peak is a peak in Alpine that looks down from the corner of the North and East mountains. My entire life (49 years) I have looked up at that peak and always wanted to hike to it, but never thought I would. It’s just too high and to far away! But I made it to the top! Wow!

We sat for maybe 20-30 minutes at the top while the wind blew ferociously. You could see Utah Lake and the mountain ranges way beyond. You could see down the back side over Silver Lake and Tibble Fork…and on forever. Dallin had occasionally pulled out his little Ocarina (triangular shaped flute/recorder) and played it, and what better place than Box Elder Peak to play it. So while I was enjoying the magnificent view, Dallin provided the soundtrack.

Again, I have caught much of this adventure on video so I look forward to editing up a little feature.

Now, back to reality…here is where the hike turned a little scary, and what spawned the beginning of my paradigm shift.

According to Dallin’s GPS, it was 8 miles+ to the top, but that might be a little skewed since GPS isn’t always correct when hiking. It felt like 20 miles to the top. Anyway, it’s about 4:45pm when we begin hiking down, and remember, there is only so much daylight left. On the way down, I quickly noticed that my warn out shoes that I chose to hike in have an area inside the shoe, in the toe region that was wearing out, and thus my toes on every step began pushing up against this plastic stuff inside the shoe. I knew I wasn’t wearing the best shoes for the hike, but discovered quickly that this was going to be a challenge. Again, each step came with pain. At one point I stopped and put on another sock to pad it a little better. That helped, but not for long. Then, I took my shoe off and wore it like a sandal, letting the back of my foot hang off the shoe so my toes wouldn’t keep mashing into the front of the shoe. That didn’t work too well as my shoe would come off.

Remember, this is all down hill hiking and beyond the shoe issues, our knees are getting a great work out too. We took a 15 minute detour onto another trail thinking that we’d get down faster, but once that trail started getting hard to follow, we turned around and back tracked back to our original trail.

Well, I started getting thirsty and had drank the rest of my water and Gatorade, and we were still hours away from getting off the mountain. It seemed that no mater how much we hiked down that we weren’t getting any closer to the bottom…we were way up in the mountains. Dallin made the comment that we were running out of daylight. I knew that, but didn’t really think about what that really meant. After a few more hours of hiking, I could tell I was getting weak and feeling very thirsty. Dallin would hand me one of his bottles of water every hour, helping me stay somewhat hydrated. I brought 64oz of Gatorade, and 64oz of water. I probably should have had twice as much water. A lesson learned.

It started getting dark, and there are thick trees in the area we were coming down, so it’s getting even getting darker. We were still about 3 miles up the mountain when it was really getting dark. I was running out of steam and my toes were hurting bad. Dallin made a quick decision and said that he was going to run down the mountain and get some flash lights and Gatorade. Fortunately we had cell service and he was able to call his wife to bring those items to the head of the trail. Dallin took off and I tried walking as much as I could until it was just too dark to go any further. I found a rock in the middle of the trail and sat down on it. I was so tired and my mind was tired.

My mental state was a little weird as I started to have strange thoughts. I wondered if we should call search and rescue to come up and carry me down in a stretcher. I surely did not feel like I could walk any more. I wondered if we should camp over here on the mountain. But we didn’t have a tent. I started feeling like I wanted to lay down on the ground and just fall asleep. I called my wife and let her know what was going on and that I didn’t know how the evening was going to end. I told her not to worry, and that Dallin had run down to grab some light and hydration.

I don’t know if you’ve ever sat in the mountains in the dark, but it was a little creepy. It was pitch black except for some of the city lights that I could see below.

I didn’t know how long I would sit there. I called Dallin and he had reached the bottom and had gotten the supplies from his wife. He was on his way back. He told me to start eating everything I could in my backpack so that I could get my strength up. I didn’t want to eat, but I found an apple and forced it down, along with a sandwich and some cookies. After eating I quickly sealed the wrappers and core in a plastic bag as I didn’t want any bears to sniff out my food and come get me (ha ha.) I sat on the rock with my head down, trying to regain my strength. After a little while I could feel the fog from my mind start to clear a bit. I think I realized the importance of eating, even if you don’t want to. I had been in a state of weakness due to under eating.

I sat in the dark and then thought I saw a light moving in the distance. Was that Dallin coming with his flashlight? After seeing the movement many times, and then noticing that it was way above trail in the trees, it couldn’t be Dallin. It turned out to be headlights on cars from across the valley driving up the hill. I was a little let down. When would Dallin arrive?

I think I sat on the rock for 90 minutes before I heard my brother yell my name. I yelled back and saw the trail down below me start to light up. It was my rescuer! My brother Dallin had run down the mountain 3 miles, and then run back up. He came with a flash light and a lantern. And a big bottle of Gatorade that I quickly gulped down. I had regained my strength enough that I could stand up and begin walking as Dallin led the way with the lights. We continued to descend down the trail for what seemed like forever. Every few minutes I wondered if we were almost there, but we weren’t. 3 miles is a long ways when your hobbling slowly down a rocky trail. Finally just before midnight, we got off the mountain and found my van waiting patiently where we had left it 17 hours earlier.

I couldn’t have been happier to see that van. And ohhhh, how it felt good to sit down on the cushioned seat.

Well, my brother had rescued me and fortunately without any intervention from anyone else. It could have ended a lot worse. I learned a lot, and discovered that all those things that you hear about being prepared actually are true.

Next time I will take more water and Gatorade. I’ll wear hiking boots and not crappy shoes. Anyway, according to the skewed GPS readings, our hike was 16 miles. And can you imagine how I would have felt if I had biked to Alpine in the morning. I’m sure I would have made it up the mountain, but who knows how much higher I would have been on the mountain when the sun went down.

As I took in the feelings of exhaustion and thought about how great the hike was, yet how scary the ending could have ended, I started to wonder how I could actually pull off the hike up Fuji. Not that I couldn’t do it, but how could I bike all night, bike half way up the mountain, and then find the energy to hike to the top of Fuji and down…all before sun down?

Today, I am 81 pound lighter than I was when I started this challenge 18 months ago, however I still have about 75 more pounds to lose. I have had great success getting the weight off, but the fact is, I am still physically unable to do things the way I would like. I don’t think I have the endurance to pull this bike ride and hike off in 24 hours.

Well, after I got off the mountain last Saturday night, I was starting to consider cancelling my bike ride. It didn’t feel right to do that, but my mind was telling me that I am not able to do this challenge yet. I started considering putting the ride off for another year until I was down to my goal weight.

I won’t get into all the details, but through the entire weekend, and into Monday, the day of my wife’s any my 25th anniversary, my mind was exhausted from the hike, and from the mental wrestling that was going on about whether or not I am going to do the ride. A few tears even came as I considered taking this dream that I’ve had for 18 months and letting it go. Something didn’t feel right about that.

I talked to my wife about it, pondered personally, and also thought I should ask the opinion of Travis, my biking companion in Tokyo. I wrote Travis a long email expressing my concern about my ability to do the ride. He wrote back with the solution. We will focus on Monday, Aug 25th on riding and getting to the 5th station on Mount Fuji. Once to the 5th station, we’ll bike down the mountain. Travis is going to take the train back to Tokyo at that point. He will be unable to climb Fuji with me. I will go back to my hotel, rest up and then meet my cameraman in the morning to get an early start at hiking up the mountain.

So instead of trying to do everything in 1 day, I will do it over 2 days. I feel that is the WISE thing to do. I want to finish this challenge, not push so hard that things fall apart and unravel before me. And even doing this over 2 days will be a good challenge for me.

Well, is that the longest blog entry I’ve made?

Well it’s not over.

Today, Dallin and I decided to get up early and bike up American Fork canyon. It is has some nice 8-9% grade hills. We got going at about 5:30am when it was still dark outside and rode a few miles to the mouth of the canyon. It was a nice ride into the blowing wind! I haven’t been on my bike in a while and I could tell. Within an hour or so as we hit some of the 8-9% hills, it was all I could do to muscle though them. I had to stop about 3 times, rest and try and figure out how I was going to continue. I literally gave up 3 times, and had even talked myself out of doing the bike ride to Fuji. I seriously felt like I just do not have it in me. Well, after stopping for the 3rd time, Dallin again rescued me by insisting that I continue on. So I got back on my bike and just started pedaling no matter how hard it was. The rode eventually flattened out a bit so I could recover. Instead of heading up through the Alpine Loop, we took a left at the junction and went up to Tibble Fork another 2 miles up the road.

We sat and talked for about 30 minutes while I shot a little time-lapse video. Then we got on our bikes and glided down the canyon in freezing temps! I bet it was probably 45 degrees on the way down. We finally caught some of the sun coming through the canyon and things warmed back up.

By then end of the 20-mile ride, I had survived. I am discovering that this is a mental game. I mean I’ve always known it, but it really is coming down to having to mentally work my way through this adventure. I guess if I can mentally win this thing, that I will hopefully be a stronger individual.

When I got home, I did a little research into what the grades look like that I did today compared to what I will do on the Fuji ride. It’s going to be hard, but I will make it, and survive to tell about it. I know I will have to rest and take some breathers on some portions of the ride, but I will do what it takes to make it to the end.

Well, I hope I haven’t bored you, but this is where I’ve been over the past week. I almost called off my ride it’s been so hard mentally to work through all of this. Calling it off would be the easy thing to do, but we’re not about easy anymore. One thing I want to be able to do though is to enjoy the ride too! So I should smile a little more and have a little fun too. For heck’s sake, how often do I get to go bike to Mount Fuji?

My weight is fluctuating. I can say that after my hike to Box Elder, that I had new muscles that were born! Some of them didn’t stop hurting until a few days ago. I’ve got to believe that there has to be some muscle growth in there. But, I need to ride my bike well this week so that I can get a little more weight off as I got o Japan. If I could be in the 270’s that would be great. 265.4lbs would be the 100 pound mark, but I don’t know if that’s going to happen. Maybe by the time I leave Japan.

Well, I’m tired, and am going to bed!

I’ll post a video on this blog tomorrow. Stay tuned.


Todays ride to Tibble Fork via American Fork Canyon. 1700' climb

Last week's hike to Box Elder peak.

Dallin taking a snack break before we ascend the final leg of the hike.

50 feet from the top! (Video frame)
10 feet from the top! See Mount Timpanogos in the background. (Video frame)

Finally after looking at Box Elder peak for 49 years, I climbed to the top of it! (Video frame)

A couple o' bros on the windy peak of Box Elder!

My hat kept blowing off so I tied it to one of the walking poles. (Video frame)

Dallin serenades the gods from the top.

Alpine, American Fork, Highland, Lehi, Orem, Saratoga Springs, etc., below.

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