Friday, August 20, 2010

Primal exercise in the Poconos

We originally planned to hit up some fun outdoors activities in the State College / Penn State area for our vacation, but I made the mistake of not checking the academic calendar. Since we had inadvertently overlapped ourselves with move-in week (for a school with 40,000 students, this is a major problem), we decided on a change of plans, and headed due north instead, to the Poconos.
Since it was August, we had a nice warm day on the first day of vacation, so we drove to our hotel and then immediately headed for a nearby waterpark -- Camelbeach Waterpark. This is an ingenious use of a ski area -- Camelback Mountain. Some of the slides are disassembled and reassembled each fall and spring. And apparently they fill the lazy river with barrels, then cover it all with plywood, and push snow right over top! The ski lodge and lazy river are at the bottom of the picture below.

We are lovers of water, so this was a great way to start our vacation. I spent a lot of the afternoon thinking about how I wished I was wearing some Vibrams, and realizing how much I heel strike when walking. It's funny how primal living starts to push it's way into every facet of your life once you start studying it and becoming aware of it. :)

The next day, Wednesday, we headed to Bushkill Falls, billed as "the Niagara of Pennsylvania".

I personally would not make that comparison, but it was still beautiful, and a very neat type of trail. There is a whole series of wooden walkways and stairs attached to the gully that the falls drop into -- without that, it would be a lot harder for most people to be able to see it. You can see a railing at the very top of the picture above. There were also a couple miles worth of "normal" trails -- though as usually for Pennsylvania, they were still pretty rocky.

I got one of the "Trail Map Adventure" kits -- which I think is a program intended for children -- and it totally made my day! For a few dollars you got a more detailed topographical map (to scale w/ elevations and other stuff not included in the free one) as well as a little card with 20 points listed, and 20 squares to mark each off. When you reached each of the 20 points along the trail, there was a little hole punch thing hanging from a post. Each punch made a certain pattern of tiny holes on the little card. So of course we had to hike to all 20 points, which meant covering every bit of the trail, and a few parts twice when I missed a punch. :) A perfect day in the mountains -- only having our dog along would've made it better. Though I'm not sure what her thoughts would have been on all the stairs and bridges. :)

Oh yeah, and how could I forget to mention my joy at only sweating a little in the "normal" places - a little on the face, neck, armpits and feet. It was amazing to exert myself without having my arms and legs beaded all over with sweat like when I do anything down here in the Georgia swamp. As a native of the north, I still just find that much sweating weird!

Thursday was our last day, and it rocked!

First up on our plan -- a high ropes course! We saw this when we bought our tickets for the waterpark, and knew we *had* to try it. And it was just as amazing as we had hoped! The only thing that would make it better would be to not have to wait so much for other people ahead of you. So I definitely want to go back another day and go out in the first group at 9:30am and climb into those trees first!

Here's a picture I got from the website of one of the awesome obstacles -- those log things swing and twist, it's so much fun! If you follow the link above, you can actually look through the "games" on each of the 5 courses. As the finale, you get to do one final, long zip line, which was awesome. :-D

If I had tried to do this course 1 year ago, before I started getting back into CrossFit, I don't think it would've been as fun of an experience. Doing it now, when I know I'm strong and can support my own weight, I was excited to fool around and see what I could do. I think last year I would've been out of breath, glad for all the rests we had waiting for the slower people ahead of us, and sore and exhausted the next day. As it was, I felt awesome, not sore at all. Such a great example of why CrossFit isn't just about being good at CrossFit -- it's about being good at life.

Sadly I did not take my iPod or camera with me, so I don't have any videos of us on the course. :( But that's just another reason to go back again, right? :-D

After our ropes course, we wanted to spend a little more time on the trails, so we headed over to Big Pocono State Park. We hikes a few miles around the Indian Trail, which takes you out to the scenic overlook of the valley below. There is just nothing like being in the mountains, taking a walk through the forest...

This trip made so glad to have grown up where I did, in such a beautiful environment. My husband loves and is energized by a trip to the mountains because it's exotic to him, it's new and different. But for me, it's a homecoming, it's a feeling of peace and a sense of belonging. I hope one day we will move to a big mountain home with a 3 mile driveway. :)

So, that's our trip -- no WODs, persay, but plenty of great primal exercise, don't you think? I thought it was just perfect. :)

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