As it’s been two months since my last hike, and even that was more like a walk in the woods, Rainbow and I decided to start small. We looked at some 52WAV summits that neither of us have done, but I was worried about my knees. More on that in just a moment. She was missing some summits from her Belknap patch, and I remembered that two of them could be done together, and would have been even easier than when I did them, since we could do a car spot. So Piper and Whiteface was the plan.
We would meet at the Whiteface trailhead, drop a car, drive to Piper trailhead, summit both, end at Whiteface and drive back to the car at Piper. When I had done them, I was solo, so parking at Piper trailhead meant I had to summit Piper twice. (You can read that here, if you’re really bored).
I often use Alltrails to find the trailhead, which then opens in Google maps, so I can drive to the correct trailhead. You can share Alltrails links, so your hiking partners know which trail and trailhead to meet at. Great, right? We said we’d meet at Whiteface’s trailhead at 9. Now I was on track to be early, when I stopped for gas and the pump locked and wouldn’t release my credit card. After some annoying interaction with the gas station attendant, I and my card were released. So, I arrived at my destination at exactly 9. Except, my destination appeared to be a corner store. Not a trailhead. I drove around a bit, thinking I’d see it. Then checked the paper map, then drove around some more. Then panicked that my messages weren’t delivering to Rainbow. Then went back to Alltrails and put it into Google maps again, and it said I was 8 minutes away. Sigh. So anyway, I showed up 22 minutes late, but found Rainbow, we left her car and drove off to the other trailhead.
There are actually TWO other trailheads. One is halfway up a mountain road. The other is farther up the same road. There was a sign about no wheeled vehicles, which I believe only pertains to winter, but we decided to park at the lower trailhead. Which meant more elevation gain for the hike, but also at least a new-to-me trail.
We set off. Did I mention it was already in the 70s? Forecast for mid-80s? Nevermind, it was in the 40s just days ago. Anyway, it was hot. And humid. And we struggled a bit. More than I think either of us expected. My knees however, were fine.
A digression about knees. Feel free to skip down to the photo to resume the hiking post.
I used to run. A lot. Everyday for 3 1/2 years. A marathon. etc. I was a runner. And everyone said, “you’ll ruin your knees”. And my knees were freaking great. Never a problem. Fast forward many years, and several pounds, and my knees have gotten … not great. Now, the thing is, they always get better during a workout, not worse. It’s more like muscle soreness than anything else. I’ve googled a thousand things, which all say to get stronger legs. Hello? I just PR’d a deadlift of 205 pounds, my legs are plenty strong.
So over the last couple of months I’ve discovered four factors that have affected my knees. Or as I call them, the four horsemen of kneepocalypse.
1) Protein. My daughter is vegetarian, and since I used to be keto, I just never think about having enough protein. Well, I wasn’t getting enough. I happened upon a webmd or similar article that said not enough protein can cause edema in your knees. Which is EXACTLY one of the issues I was having with my knees. They’d puff up with fluid and it made it hard to bend my knees. No pain, but lots of fluid. Upping and tracking my protein has completely fixed that.
2) Footwear. I bought zero drop shoes for the gym. Great for lifting, not great for running or jump roping. Not sure why it took me so long to think of this one, as a runner I used to notice all the time when it was time for new running shoes. Running and jump rope were excruciating at the gym. Bought new running shoes and wear them whenever we run or jump rope, and they’re a lot better. I’ve also noticed I can’t wear my chucks and walk a lot. I end up with knee pain the next day. 😦
3) Stretching. All that work at the gym and my quads and calves are soooooo tight. Which can cause bad form when running or jumping rope, or even just walking. I’ve started stretching at least once per day and again feel an improvement in my knees.
4) Weight. The last one I’m working on, but I’m sure that the 30 pounds I need to lose aren’t helping my knees at all.
For this hike, I took a boat load of advil and used kineseology tape just to be sure they’d be ok. They actually feel better than they do on a normal day.
OK back to hiking stuff.
After some hot and humid struggle, we got to the ridge trail, and the throne on Piper. No idea why my photos here are blurry, but whatever. Oh wait, I think that alien ship in the sky probably blurred out my photos. (Seriously though, what IS that? I wasn’t in the pics before and after this one). You can see the purple on my knees, that’s the tape.
Another pic of me looking quite regal on the Piper throne.
And here is the view I was looking at.
Then we headed over to the actual summit of Piper (no photo) and continued on towards Whiteface. I’m pretty sure the bald spot between the trees in this pic is Whiteface.
Some up and down, and some BLAZING HOT SUN, and we finally summited Whiteface.
Did I mention it was hot?
A nice view as we started back down the trail.
Then not far from the trailhead, there is a collapsed shed or really small cabin, and someone added some decor.
A really hot hike, and we definitely need to get back into hiking shape, but this was still a fun time. And even though I was repeating two summits, I also got two new trails!
- Distance: 4.6 miles
- Elevation gain: 1,176 feet
- Moving time: 3 hours, 33 minutes
- Total time: 4 hours, 11 minutes
Where is this place it’s not mentioned in the article
It’s in the Belknap Mountain range, http://belknaprangetrails.org/
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