My friend Brian Brogioli is a devoted fan of the new P90-X workout series. For several weeks, he’s been telling me how it has served as the sole fitness regime in his household. A former state trooper and a longtime runner, I take Brian’s input pretty seriously and have even considered investing the $300 plus necessary to get the DVD and get into action. A bad back had chased Brian off the running streets but with the P90-X, he assured me that everything was covered: aerobics, strength training and even stretching. Tony Horton, the founder of P90-X had apparently thrown open a new avenue to fitness for Brian, my friend’s zeal was intriguing, the benefits of the program were on display this weekend as we joined up with several friends for a hike up Mt Algonquin in the Adirondacks.
Joining in the hike was David Keefe, formerly a serious cyclist, now committed to Brazilian Jiu Jitsu. My college roommate Anthony geared up, he is forty pounds away from his playing days as an Ivy League center, somehow he manages to run a large construction business and still stay remarkably fit. As David pointed out on the trail, Consigli is like a diesel engine, it takes him a little bit to get started and then he just goes and goes and goes. And heading into the mountains for the first time in the winter was Jeff Navin. An executive at Anthony’s company, Jeff is one of the hardest working men I’ve ever met and he brought that same attitude to the hike.
The Adirondacks has a rule that you must wear snowshoes or skis on the trail at all times. A veteran of the White Mountains, I’m used to a “Live Free or Die” sensibility and was fairly perturbed that we had to strap up. The trails were packed out and with temps hovering around zero in the valley, there was no real need for the shoes. However, we decided that, at least while we were in striking distance of the ranger station, we’d wear them.
My early plan was to take on Mt Marcy, which is the tallest mountain in the ‘dacks. Buried deep in the High Peaks region, it’s a quad burning 14 mile round trip. A great challenge, no doubt but by the morning of the hike, we’d all decided that our plans needed a dash of reason. Winds were supposed to pick up in the afternoon with temperatures falling into the sub 10 degree range. As we suited up in the ranger station, a skier with lots of attitude to match his expensive gear took one look at our group and suggested we keep things short and sweet because of the incoming weather. While a part of me felt like burying my ice axe in his long-haired head, I could tell by the facial expression of some of my friends that a seed of doubt had been planted, one that over a tough, cold day could grow into a giant oak of misery and panic. We opted for a simple “out and back” of six miles, tag the top of Algonquin and get home before the weather.
To the trails we went and David Keefe showed early on why it pays to shell out the cake when you’ve got it. Never one to do things in a small way, David had picked up a sweet pair of MSR Lightning Ascent snowshoes the day before. Lightweight, narrow and tricked out with major traction and a support for his heel on steep ascents, David’s shoes had him skimming along the narrow trail. His fitness was tough to match anyway but put him in the shoes and he was the class of our group.
The rest of us were lower tech in the snowshoe department. Tubbs tubular’s were the main weapon of choice and made for some slowish going. But it wasn’t a race and within minutes the opportunity of being out in the woods, away from it all, washed over us.
After the first forty minutes, we stopped for some food and Gatorade. In the single digit temps, we were still sweating heavily and Brian and Jeff were struggling a bit to catch their breath. Concerned, (but only moderately so because I like to see him suffer) I asked Brian how he felt. With the state trooper authority of his past life, Brian summed up his aerobic situation thusly, “When I get off of this mountain, I’m going to drive out to California and I’m going to kick Tony Horton’s ass!” Apparently, the PX-90 was great at making Brian stronger, better balanced and limber but when it came to wind capacity, the program was a far cry from regular running miles.
In just under two and a half hours, we were at treeline. David K turned to me and having taken in the frozen landscape, remarked how we might as well “have been on the moon” so foreign were the sights when stacked next to our daily lives. The approach to the summit was a breeze. Despite the dire warnings of our self-important friend at the Ranger Station, there was no wind and the thermometer was at a comfortable 5 degrees. For mid January, we really couldn’t have asked for better conditions.
After the obligatory pictures, we began our descent. And Brian B who had gotten a pretty good hurt on going up, blistered the downhill portion, remarking time and again that his recovery was “amazing.” No doubt due to his friend in California.