The Mantras I Recite on the Trail

I have certain key mantras I recite to myself when climbing up on a trail.  Yesterday’s hike found me saying my top three; “slow and steady”, “I am the little engine” and finally my favorite “I am a billy-goat.”

Mike’s birthday hike had us going on the Mohawk Trail to the Appalachian Trail then doing the Pine Knob Loop Trail and return on the A.T. and the Mohawk.  Slogging through snow made the ups and downs a great work out with me reciting to myself “slow and steady” at various points.

Mohawk trail lead us to the summit of Breadloaf  Mountain.  Along the way we encountered a strange item hanging from a tree.  Wonder what animal this belonged to?

The hike up to Breadloaf was all uphill, slow and steady we went.  This part wasn’t strenuous as the way up was via gentle switchbacks.

After reaching the peak, we began hiking the Appalachian Trail for a little over a mile.  This was my favorite part of the hike because we blazed the first human prints in the snow.  Forest creatures had clearly enjoyed hiking this part of the A.T. before us, including a bobcat. The track was so light you could barely see it in the sparkling sunlight.  We had other tracks leading us also, fox, deer, racoon and still one we can’t identify.  This section had a  few stream crossings, including the Hatch Brook.  This brook was beautiful and I’m sure in the summer a refreshing place to rest and rejuvenate tired feet.

After leaving the A.T. to join the Pine Knob Loop we came across another trail oddity.  Who had sprinkled pepper over the path?  Wait the pepper hops.  We decided to call these strange things snow fleas.  We thought how original are we in naming these snow fleas? Not so clever, we found out.  After doing a bit of research,  we learned they are indeed called snow fleas, though not related to the flea at all and they are year-round insects. 

After the first sighting of the snow fleas, my mantras were called upon.  We steadily go up and up to Pine Knob and I find myself reciting over and over again “I am a billy goat, I am a billy goat.”  This trail was traveled by humans, so we weren’t breaking fresh snow tracks, but after the mile on the A.T. blazing through  heavy snow,  my little legs were hurting.  My thighs were aching, my calves were whining, but mentally my mantras was coaching me to the top.

I made it to the top and what a tranquil view it was.  My thighs thanked me for sitting down and having a lunch break.  Our view-point provided us with the site of the Housatonic River and Mine Mountain, Dean Hill and Coltsfoot Mountain.  We had reached an elevation of 1,120 feet.  I thought we were at the summit, but we still had higher to go.  I became the little engine that could and started reciting lines from the book.  My mantra of being that little engine helped my legs to keep churning.  The mantras, views and chocolate covered ginger fueled me on.

We descended down and came across other people out enjoying the trail.  It was a balmy 48 degrees on our hike and the sun provided a nice uplift to my tired legs and constant mantras. 

We had to repeat the A.T. and Breadloaf Mountain trail to return to our car.  Once last time I had to call forth all of three of my mantras “slow and steady, I am the little engine and I am a billy goat” to ascend back up Breadloaf.

Leaving Breadloaf, I felt a sense of accomplishment of not giving up or letting my little legs stop churning.  This wasn’t a technical hike, but the snow and climbs made it for a physically demanding one. Thank goodness for mantras, especially my favorite “I am a billy goat.”

Until the next hike….

The Details:  6.8 miles, six hours, little over an hour of rest.  Parked on unpaved lot on route 7.  Followed Mohawk Trail up to Breadloaf Mtn. then followed Appalachian Trail, to Pine Knob Loop Trail and then re hike the A.T. to Mohawk Trail.  In winter, a strenuous hike with a few steady climbs up.  Heart pumping trail and leg tiring trail, but worth it.