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Hiking in the Cold North

I set a personal record for a winter hike yesterday! It was a cold day but not bitter like it had been for a while (seemed like months actually). It was a long ways from those hikes in Panama, Nevada, Florida, Virginia, Texas and other warm places that the Air Force sent us. Much closer to Iceland, Illinois and Washington state in many circumstances like the wind chill (about zero during the hike), the snow covered surface and cloud cover. Maybe I should explain why I hike outside in the wintertime?

I think they forgot to plow us today!
First, I like a challenge!  Yep, it is a challenge to get the mental energy up for putting on the right clothes, boots and safety equipment (reflective belt, wrist band, water and cellphone).   Then suck in your breath and face the first snowy wind gust and you are off!  The clamp cleats that strap on to my boots dig into the snow and ice and keep me upright most of the time but I still have slipped and fell once or twice ( a totally different blog in the future).  I like to layer with clothes such as long underwear, two sets of socks, pullovers, sweaters, face pullover/mask, a wool stocking cap and a water proof jacket with warm gloves in the pockets.


Usually I bring along our fun loving Corgi but make it short for her with a pass by the house to let her off as she reaches her endurance level.  Then I get going on the serious hiking.  Using a "Map My Walk" App on my phone for distance, calories, etc. is fun for me and I also enjoy listening to music on my headsets.  I have to keep the music down as I hike on very country roads with little vehicular traffic but I would not want to "surprise a driver".   I still walk on the opposing side and face traffic.  Sometimes the road is more one lane and makes for an opportunity to step into deep plowed piles of snow when traffic arrives.  That usually brings a laugh and a complaint at the same time.

A Red Tailed Hawk keeping a close eye on the hiker!
I had been pushing a pretty steady four miles a day, four or five times a week and realized I could go farther (with time during recovery from medical treatments).  After chemotherapy ended in the beginning of December I had to push hard but now it is much easier to take an extra step or two and yesterday I did 6.7 miles at a moderate clip considering the conditions.   It takes me a couple of hours and I get some time to think about the challenges of life, plan for the future (a Florida trip!), listen to some great music, wave at the neighbors (most of whom I do not know but I am sure they now recognize me as that guy hiking in all the bad weather), pray and feel the burn.  Last night I even added a 1.7 mile walk while in the Grand Rapids mall hunting for new glasses for my out of this world caregiver!  Thank you Deborah! 

In two weeks I have another hurdle with a CT Scan where the sarcoma cancer has been active lately.  I am blessed to have so many great friends and a fantastic family supporting me but the feet on these walks are mine and when I feel better, they do too.  So support is a two way street!  Whether it is flying a combat mission where the crew is at their peak due to their training efforts or their family and friends lifting them up with prayer, care packages, communication:  Each has a role to care and support!  I find the fight against sarcoma to be a war as well.  I put in my hard efforts as does the medical team producing the best results.  Blessed by my faith, I keep covering those miles! 

   
The workouts on Wednesday and Friday are indoors on an elliptical.
















Dale Kissinger, AKA “Col K” is a co-founder of MilitaryAvenue.com and retired Air Force pilot who served with the best of the military community from the Army, Navy, Marines, Coast Guard and Air Force. He flew combat rescue and special operations helicopters, fixed wing trainers, special operations airlift and retired while flying the C-17 as the Vice Wing Commander of the 62nd Airlift Wing at McChord AFB. He served his country during conflicts in Bosnia, Iraq, Kosovo and Afghanistan.  

After a brief break due to medical issues he is returning to writing for MilitaryAvenue.


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59 comments:

  1. Exercise, such as facing a hike in the cold, and being strong-minded are great ways to combat cancer. You are certainly covering those miles and having support helps, too.

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    1. Thank you for your comment Jocelyn! I draw great satisfaction at the end of a hike. Even the fun of being outdoors in the middle of winter can be uplifting. Thank you for your service and best wishes on your practice as well! http://www.ucmj-defender.com/practice-areas/nonjudicial-punishment/

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