I started 2015 with a splash, entering the near-freezing Schuylkill River as part of the Polar Bear Plunge. Despite having all of three hours of sleep I felt awake. Especially after getting wet.
After a few minutes at the post plunge bonfire I drove home for a couple of hours before my next event, a group hike in Warwick County Park. Of course I was too excited to sleep, even though that would have been the prudent choice. Then again I’d just taken a dip into a river in a Pennsylvania January, so prudence obviously wasn’t on my mind.
I drove – and yes I did consider if I was alert enough to drive – to Warwick and joined up with a group of twenty people for the two mile hike. Because of my work schedule and my pace I don’t often participate in group hikes, so I was looking forward to this one. The park ranger outlined our planned route, spoke about the mental and physical benefits of walking and the outdoors, and we were off.
Or perhaps I should write “and they’re off!” As the ranger told me later, he didn’t anticipate people would be pushing the pace, and soon our group was spread out for a fifth of a mile over the Iron Heritage Trail.
I’m normally slow in hiking, and today I was fatigued too. I soon fell behind on the flat trail, and as we switched over to the Horseshoe Trail for the return and climbed up the ridgeline I fell back. We finished together, but that was because the ranger let the speeding dogwalkers go on their own and held back a group to wait for me.
Not that being alone was a problem for me. As I said, I knew these woods and I felt confident in them. And I enjoyed the solitude and the trail and the view of the opposite ridgeline.
Some might be disappointed not to have kept up with the group, but I wasn’t. I found the experience reinforced my preference for solo hikes or hikes with one or two other people. And I did manage to hike on next to no sleep.My new year was under way, and while it might stress me, it was going to be great.
Oh, and after carefully driving home and having dinner, I slept for a dozen hours.