Guest Blogger – Karts Huseonica, Sun City, Arizona, USA
It is a great pleasure to introduce my latest Guest blogger – mountaineer, solo record-setting Death Valley trail walker, and the oldest person to complete the Bear Grylls’ extreme survival course – Karts Huseonica
Karts examines the physical and mental psychology of training for and partaking in long distance trails. A fascinating in-sight from a remarkable individual.
Having turned 67 this year, I decided to take on an 800-mile/1,300-km traverse of my state of Arizona, in the USA.
Although I’d just returned from filming an episode with Bear Grylls of his new show Bear Grylls: Face the Wild, I thought I was ready for another challenge.
I would be the oldest person taking on the Arizona Trail this year, one of the most challenging National Scenic Trails in the USA. It takes the hiker through desert, mountains, and alpine regions on sometimes very inhospitable trails.
To help prepare myself for the demands of this adventure, I exercised regularly at one of several Sun City Recreation Centers, where I live. This included predawn walks with a 40-pound backpack at the center’s outdoor walking track for three hours.
However, this was not enough for what I was about to experience on the Arizona Trail. My average hiking day was ten hours. Weather varied from sunny 90-degree days to snow and sleet, with many nights in the 20’s.(Fahrenheit)
In Sun City, I didn’t train for ten hours a day, and the weather was always moderately nice. I always had plenty to eat and drink before, during, and after training.
On the Arizona Trail, water sourcing was always an issue. I was never certain if my next water source had water, or if I would have to hike another ten or twelve miles to the next reported water source.
After five days on the trail, what’s known as trail hunger set in. My body was demanding more food after having utilized as much body fat as feasible. This is a common occurrence with long distance hikers. I was ravenous and running out of food so I had to have my resupply food boxes doubled in volume and frequency.
If I ever decided to do a long trail again, I would triple my training time and double the intensity. This would include an increase of weight in my backpack. Doing a maintenance style of training doesn’t work for me. In fact, I believe that my strength and endurance actually decreased because my body became so use to the routine; it was not being challenged enough, despite my age. I needed to see a greater increase at every training session that fit my physical capabilities as approved by my physician.
Being a member of the local hiking club, I can add to my training regime, numerous club hikes. Ranging from four to twelve miles, the hikes provide me an opportunity to move my training to the trails with their challenges of altitude, varying surface treads such as rocks, and a sustained cardio work-out. Despite all the varying types of equipment in our recreation centers, nothing can replace the actual activity associated with my goal of being a better athlete, hiker, and active fit senior citizen.
All that I’ve talked about thus far is objective topics. I can’t neglect the subjective topic of the mental game. For me, the Arizona Trail is a 60 percent mental game. Many days I had to convince my body that it could keep going up that mountain or to keep walking on that rocky trail. Meanwhile, I’d hear about other hikers, especially really young ones tapping out; quitting their thru-hike because of a lack of mental toughness as they fought thirst, hunger, loneliness, and the fear of being alone on the trail. Many simply get homesick and quit.
The mind game preyed on me in Sun City training sessions. Frequently, I’d want to quit early to join friends for breakfast, or was simply bored and wanted to go home. Now when I go to one of our Sun City recreation center gyms, I try to ignore all the bored-looking faces of the other users, stay focused, and push myself harder than ever as I prepare for a long, healthy, adventurous life. I gotta keep stepping it up. There is no reason not to live life at full throttle until my physician tells me otherwise.
Arthur “Karts” Kenneth Huseonica, 67, is retired from working, but not from living.
Recent adventures include a summit of Mt Rainier with Nepalese guide Tulsi Gurung; a solo record-setting double-traverse of Death Valley; oldest person to complete the Bear Grylls’ extreme survival course’: a solo Rim-to-Rim-to-Rim of the Grand Canyon; a solo winter summit of Humphreys Peak in Arizona; a record-setting Amazon River expedition; appearing on a new adventure show BEAR GRYLLS: FACE THE WILD; and a solo thru-hike of the 800-mile Arizona Trail.
For more information about Karts, please visit arizonianexplorer.wordpress.com