My very first hike!

9:40 a.m. on June 29, 2008 (EDT)
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The title is a little misleading as I used to do this stuff years ago, but yesterday I did my first hike with the guys. The four of us decided we were tired of Playstation and TV and reading reports that TV increases ADD and other problems. We decided we would get into doing thingsoutdoors like we did when we were children without all of modern technologies downfalls. So decided hiking and backcounty camping would be the place to start. So we got togethr our equipment and decided to do a day hike with all of our gear on to get an idea of what to expect. We went th Bernheim Forest in Ky, and planned to walk the 13.8 mile millenium trail. We bit off more than we could chew.

I had not eaten a good breakfast and about 1/2 mile short of the half way point, i started bonking (my first understanding of what this word means). And the once I ate, I felt like a new man and was ready to do the other half of teh trail, when I noticed that 3.5 of my 4 liters of water was gone. So we took the blacktop road shortcut back to the starting point. It ended up being 10 miles anyway.

Today I feel how much past "too far" i pushed my self as my legs are completely smoked, and my shoulders feel some pain from teh pack.

The important thing is that I loved every minute of it and I learned a whole lot. I now know my limits until I can get in better shape, and I learned the importance of eating on the trail. We already have pur next trip scheduled for about 1 month away, and in the meantime I am gonna do a lot of shorter day hikes without the pack to get my legs in shape.

1:33 p.m. on June 29, 2008 (EDT)
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Well done! Keeping in shape can be a meaningful pursuit, as you have proved, and hiking is a great way to understand our connection to the (natural) world.
I'm in the UK, so the fact that you started 'bonking' on the first day just adds to my admiration for your enthusiasm.
;-)

2:32 p.m. on June 29, 2008 (EDT)
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I actually googled the term bonking to make sure i was not using the word out of context, but I hit the nail on the head. When on a steady 1 mile uphill, my feet began to hit unsure and tumble on loose rocks. I then started to get a little dizzy and light headed, then all that stopped me from flat collapsing was a friends trekking pole I had borrowed for the day. I was so messed up i couldnt even eat at first. Then , once I had about 700 or so calories (most of which was carbs) and sat for a while, i stood up like i had been resting for days and trucked on.

5:14 p.m. on June 29, 2008 (EDT)
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I had to look it up too, as I thought the new meaning might be 'throwing up' or something. Over here it is a nice euphemism, not too coarse, for you might know what.
I suppose there's a good lesson in what you describe as exhaustion: one of the deadliest factors in the mountains, especially on the descent.
I suppose you know about the signs of heat-exhaustion/heat-stroke, right? And that water is an essential factor of the terrain you plan to move across, not just a supply you carry in (unless it's the desert)? So how hot is Kentucky right now?
Good luck: the hardest part might be keeping on trucking until it gets addictive and takes care of itself. Keep those sugary snacks handy.
All the best.

6:33 p.m. on June 29, 2008 (EDT)
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hey Walkeraviator, You are not alone! I used to push myself really hard to stay on "schedule". Know I just take my time and enjoy nature. I have also heard it called "monkeying",
example: He monkeyed on that one, eh. Not sure where it originated, but I have done it! On the subject of eating, I start packing on the carbs and such the day before I head out, seems to help. Jon.C is right about the water and snacks.
Best of luck to you.

12:34 p.m. on June 30, 2008 (EDT)
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"Bonk" is a term that has been used for many years among distance runners, bicycle racers, and other competitive endurance athletes. As you found out, it basically results from depleting your glycogen supply and/or dehydration. That is what led to the invention of Gatorade and all the subsequent hydration mixes and energy bars (well, most "energy bars" are just re-labelled junk food). There is some contribution from depletion of salts (no, not plain old sodium chloride, but all the other minerals and compounds that get lost through your sweat).

A typical way of avoiding it (or recovering) among athletes is drinking hydration mixes (Bill Gookin's Hydrolyte is my preferred one, but lots of people swear by CytoMax, GuO2, and several others), or something like Gu plus sufficient water. Do not just drink water - there is a strong tendency when exercising hard (like hiking uphill with a pack on a hot day) to drink too much water, which leads to hyponatremia (which is just diluting the salts in your body). Gu and similar gels provide the salts plus a bit of glucose, which along with water, gets into the bloodstream quickly.

Many of the store-bought "hydration" mixes are way too sweet. Diluting them by about half works better (Gatorade in particular is way too concentrated). The idea is that you mix Hydrolyte in your Camelbak or water bottle at the start of the hike, then take frequent sips along the way. This keeps your blood sugar level up and the body salts in balance (the mixes like Hydrolyte taste to some people like slightly sweetened sweat - well, that's basically what they are). They also can act as rehydration salts for someone who has gotten dehydrated (the rehydration salt packages are unsweetened, and taste realllllyyyy bad!).

Before Gu and Hydrolyte, we used to just nibble snacks along the way and drink water. The mixes are more convenient and keep you at a more uniform level. They won't completely avoid bonk. You have to pace yourself as well.

12:34 a.m. on July 8, 2008 (EDT)
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JonC - Bonked as Bill says is from the word Bonk meaning to tank, or die. 'Boinked' is from the word Boink which Urban Dictionary calls the American term for the shag...

1:23 a.m. on July 8, 2008 (EDT)
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Bill S., What is the consensus on salt tablets these days, I remember them from summer camp. Also I have been using gatorade, I will give a couple of the ones you mentioned a try.
Thanks.

12:42 p.m. on July 8, 2008 (EDT)
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In my Wilderness First Aid and Wilderness First Responder courses and recertifications over the past 10 years or so, the consensus has been an emphatically stated NO! There were some long explanations of the physiology of the problems, which I won't repeat here. But basically, what you sweat off is not just sodium chloride (table salt, and what salt tablets are), but a whole range of other salts, several being potassium salts. The rehydration mixes basically match what you sweat off (why Gatorade was originally developed for the Gators, the football team for one of the Florida state university system). Hydrolyte was developed by Bill Gookin, who was, and still is, a long distance runner and an orienteer (that's how I know him). He developed it for his own distance running (he used to do things like the Sierra 100, a 100 mile foot race through the Sierra Nevada). At about 80 years old, he still runs faster than a lot of 30 and 40 year olds. Most of the Gookin family also are distance runners.

Another thing about salt tablets is that apparently they pull water back through the stomach and intestine walls, which just dehydrates you further, mostly because it puts too much salt into your digestive tract at once. The other salts, as mixed in the hydration drinks are more readily absorbed.

I'm not a physiologist, so I'm just repeating what I hear in my WFA and WFR courses and read in the physiology columns in the bicycling and orienteering training magazines.

August 1, 2014
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