The Trail To Philmont, March 2020

We started actively training for our big 12-day backpacking trip to Philmont Scout Ranch in New Mexico in January, and got into a good groove in February.

And then everything changed. During the first half of the month, we maintained our regime of working out three times a week as a group, but by the middle of the month, it was clear we’d need to stop. When they closed the schools – and college where I worked switched to remote work/learning – we stopped meeting and switched to individual work outs. Reluctantly, we canceled our 14-mile, two-day backpacking trip to the Pine Barrens as well.

So now we’re working, learning, and exercising at home. NeutronLad and I still venture out into the neighborhood for regular walks and runs, but it lacks the camaraderie of working as a group. With luck, the stay-at-home instructions will be lifted in May, and we can get in our big shakedown hike.

As for the trip to Philmont itself, its still on. The ranch is preparing for the summer, and we’re maintaining our work out schedule in anticipation of going there.

The closure of just about everything means that my wife and I aren’t able to meet with the personal trainer any more or use the college’s gym. Instead, we’re meeting with the trainer virtually – she designed a fitness program for us using an app, and then we meet via video conference once a week.

Progress-wise, it’s not surprising that I’m walking less. In February, I averaged 7.6 miles a day and 14,867 steps a day. In March, I averaged 6.7 miles and 13,262 steps a day. Fortunately, the drop-off wasn’t as bad as I feared it would be, mostly because I modified my at-home routine to include more between-meeting walks around the neighborhood.

On the plus side, my quest to 200 lbs. remains on track; I went from 208 lbs. at the end of February to 206 lbs. at the end of March. These are the hardest pounds to lose, but they’re also rewarding; my goal of losing the “backpacking belt muffin top” seems very doable.

Looking ahead to April, it’s unlikely we’ll get a backpacking trip in but I’d like to go on a day hike or two with NeutronLad. We need experience carrying loaded packs and April’s a good month to ease into that. Since the pool and gym are off-limits, I plan to switch up my running routine with bike riding. NeutronLad’s restarted his couch-to-5K routine and he too will be riding his bike more.

Overall, COVID-19’s disrupted our lives and our routines, but we’ve been able to healthy and stay mostly on track with our Philmont routines. Given everything that is going in the world, I’m very grateful for that.

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A mist-shrouded view of the Delaware River from the top of College Hill, taken during my morning walk. Credit: Ken Newquist

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