Some of my favorite workouts are when I hike the higher peaks in Vermont. For people who live in truly big mountains, our five different peaks of 4000' or more don't sound like much, but I usually use approach routes that include a minimum of 2000' of vertical. Last night, I hiked Mt. Ellen, part of the Sugarbush ski resort, and the route I used includes 2450'. I hiked up on ski area service roads and then left the ski area briefly to use the Long Trail to summit the peak. The distance on the Long Trail is very short, but I always like to get the real summit.
Regretfully, last night was also a reminder that I'm not in very good shape and my left knee is not happy. My record ascent time for this peak is 54:30. My best round-trip time is 1:27:59, done in August of 2005, just two days after a 23 mile trail run. Last night, it took me almost 1:28 to get to the summit, but not quite.
My slow time is due to 3 things:
1) I'm just not in very good shape right now and I've done no hill work at all this year.
2) My weight is too high and that really shows up when climbing.
3) I'm having some problems with my left knee.
I had my left ACL replaced in 2002, and it's been fine most of the time since then. I've done some really hard races and hard training since that surgery in May of 2002. But, in early March of this year, I took an awkward fall while skiing and it hasn't quite been the same since then. I'm concerned that I may have damaged my meniscus somewhat in that fall. I have my annual physical in a couple weeks and I'm going to ask for a referral to our local orthopedic surgeon at that visit.
When I hike uphill right now, my knee audibly clicks. It doesn't hurt, but it's annoying and it does cause me to alter my stride to get the clicking to stop. It's in the area of the lateral meniscus, but it's also possible that the clicking is originating somewhere other than the meniscus. That's what I need a doc to help me figure out.
But, despite being out of shape and not completely healthy, it was a beautiful night and the hike was fun, albeit challenging.
On Saturday morning, I think my wife and I are going to hike a different 4000'+ peak, trying to finish before the heat and humidity forecast for that day hit.