The most beautiful part of 6:00 a.m. stretch class was during the final moments, when we would lay on our backs, taking deep cleansing breaths in and out. My eyes would move upwards towards the large windows framing the magnificent backdrop of red rock mountains. When we started the class it was nearly pitch black outside. By the end, the sun would be cresting the mountain tops and bathing everything in its ethereal glow.
In that moment I felt complete peace.
Those moments, while blissful, were always short-lived. The Russian Princess and I had to rush back to our rooms, get changed into our hiking gear and head to breakfast. The schedules were built with military precision, and we were obedient soldiers.
Back in the quiet of my room, I carefully wrapped my feet in duct tape, a blister-prevention hack I had picked up in Malibu, and inspected the damage from the previous day’s hike. Two small blisters; one on the inside of each foot, near the base of my big toes. A matching pair. All things considered, not bad, I told myself.
During breakfast, Carrie, the hiking program manager, announced which vans we had been grouped with, and also which hikes we would be completing that day. Since I had no knowledge of the trails in that area, the hike name, Hidden Pinyon, meant nothing to me, but as I looked around at the Van #6 crew I had been grouped with, my stomach clenched. This was going to be a speedy bunch.
Even if I had been familiar with the Hidden Pinyon trail, I still wouldn’t have been prepared for the fresh hell that awaited me. The hiking guides at Movara, it seems, like to free-style it. Carrie provides a location for each group to start from, ensuring no traffic jams along the trails, but then the hiking guides have license to get creative and decide how much ground their group can cover in the allotted time.
As it turns out, the Van 6 hikers can cover A LOT of ground in 2.5 hours.
In total we bagged three peaks that morning. First up was a little gem known as Piano Rock:
Doesn’t look so bad, right?
This should help put it into perspective:
This picture does not do justice to the steepness of the climb.
Here I am, bringing up the rear with my hiking guide, wondering what dark force I could sell my soul to in return for teleporting me to the top of Piano Rock.
Once up top though, nothing but smiles and cheese.
I could tell you about the horrific decent over smooth sandstone, on a decline that had my feet pointed straight down at an angle even a ballerina would envy, but I’ve banished most of that trauma from memory.
My new spirit animal is mountain goat. Apparently we share much the same DNA.
No sooner had we finished the descent from The Piano, we began the climb up Stair Mistress.
Again, this picture doesn’t adequately depict just how steep the climb was. They do not equate it to a StairMaster for nothing. Trust me.
The rest of the group were making their final push to the peak, as I contemplated how much I hated my life. The talk track playing in my head at this moment:
I hate everyone. I hate this mountain. I hate StairMasters. I will never hike again after I finish this hike. Okay, I know that last part is a lie, but right now it feels good to say it.
And finally, once at at the peak, a burst of energy to snap pictures of the outstanding views. No filters necessary in this landscape.
Nothing but smiles from the Van 6 hikers at the top of the Stair Mistress.
As if The Piano and The Stair Mistress weren’t bad enough, the guides informed us we had one more climb ahead. I don’t even remember the name of the third one. Or possibly I experienced a blackout from lack of oxygen.
I don’t remember the climb, but I do have photo evidence of a third summit.
I hate that my pictures don’t accurately depict the inclines and that you aren’t getting a true sense of the hell I went through to climb up.
Oh but the views! Dare I say, these vistas made the climbs worth it?
Possibly one of my favorite shots of the entire trip: Shadow dancers.
And lest you think that the crazy mountain-goat style hiking was the sum total of our exercise for the day, check this out:
We returned from the hike only to climb another mountain. This time on a treadmill. “Mt. Kilimanjaro” was a hill program from hell. We started out our treadmills at an incline of 15. Prior to that day, I wasn’t even aware treadmill inclines went higher than 10. For details on this program, click over to the Cardio workout page.
Following lunch and an amazing lecture on “Self-Sabotage” (one which deserves (and will get) its own post), it was back to the treadmill for 45 minutes of Cardio Intervals.
At the exact point my legs were hitting wet noodle stage and crying Uncle, it was time for Sharon’s “Bootcamp“. Because life is cruel like that.
In my delirious post-Bootcamp state, I made the worst decision of the week. I assumed that both of the 4:30 classes (Stretch and H20) were stretching sessions.
Imagine my shock and horror to learn the H20 class I chose to attend was an actual pool workout.
My hate-filled climbs during the hike that morning paled in comparison to the rage I felt in that pool. I pictured The Russian, in her temperature-controlled room, stretching tired muscles out, and cursed myself for this colossal error. Trainer Cliff’s voice, commanding me to swim another length of the pool whilst holding float-y weights below the surface of the water, snapped me back to reality.
Since I was already in my bathing suit, I took the opportunity for a 5 minute soak in the hot tub following H20 class. I felt slightly less stabby after that.
All told, Day 2 delivered:
- 27,789 steps
- 11.8 miles
- 2,383 calories burned
- 1,200 calories consumed
- My first cry
It wasn’t the physical brutality that brought the tears. Nope. The waterworks arrived at the lecture titled, Self-Sabotage. I cried like a baby.
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: This program breaks you physically, but it really breaks you emotionally. In the most beautiful way possible.
p.s. Skip straight over to Day 3 now.