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Take a hike for winter fitness fix

Fit to be Tried
By: Julie Young Journal Columnist
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Hiking is a great way to stay active through the winter months. We have seemingly limitless possibilities out our Auburn backyard. Generally speaking, the key to fitness is consistency, keeping it fun and interesting with variety, and partnering up to insure accountability. Hiking fits the bill.
Finding and maintaining fitness does not have to be a grit your teeth and grind it out proposition. In fact, the key to discovering that lifelong lifestyle of health is finding that activity you want to do and soon finding you love to do it and will not let life’s minutia infringe on your ability to do it.
To me one of the most fulfilling, simple and accessible, yet adventuresome activities is hiking. Auburn’s location on the rim of the canyon affords numerous trails at our toe-tips, taking production and one less excuse out of the equation to make it happen. There are a trillion trail options providing a variety of distances, topography, loops and out and backs to make every outing an adventure – so much fun you may forget it is “good for you.”
When hiking, we move at an appreciable pace allowing us to fully experience all the sights, sounds and sensations of the trails – feeding our mind and our bodies. Hiking and its pace also provides a modern-day, unique opportunity for uninterrupted quality visits with friends.
Hiking is an ideal winter activity – it is actually enjoyable in inclement weather. By adding poles to the mix, we incorporate the trunk, shoulders and arms and receive benefits of a fantastic full body workout. The relentless canyon topography also provides more bang for your fitness buck.
I think it is valuable to have a long term goal to help rally our daily fitness routine. For winter hikers this might be the summer goal to tick off sections of the 165-mile Tahoe Rim Trail that follows the ridgeline encircling the Lake Tahoe Basin. Goals help us connect the dots and provide purpose to daily training, and that little nudge we sometimes all need to step out the door.
When possible I like the motivation of loop trail routes – the possibilities are limitless – but the following are a few on which to chew. (Consult maps and/or guide books for specific details and distances).
One of my new favorite loops is the Western States Trail from the Overlook, head toward No Hands Bridge, and then veer off on to the new Old Railroad grade trail (which roughly tracks below the Western States trail) back toward the Overlook. Next on the list is to start at Robie Point — link over to Stage Coach Trail, drop down the Confluence and ascend the Western States Trail, over No Hands Bridge and up to Robie. Another loop starts at the confluence, take the Quarry Trail up the Middle Fork of the American River and link on to the Western States Trail as it meanders under the Auburn Lake Trails — there are a bunch of options to make this loop shorter or longer.
Feeling Steep and Deep — head east to Euchre Bar Trail, out of Alta. This trail offers unique aspects including - a footbridge across the North Fork of the American River; the only trail down to the “ wild river segment” that is accessible year-round; and the opportunity to complete a rim-to-rim option by descending and ascending via the historic Dorer Ranch Road to the Foresthill side of the canyon. Or a little closer to home, just outside of Colfax – descend and ascend the Stevens Trail to the North Fork of the American River.
Steeper and Deeper? Drive past Foresthill to Michigan Bluff and hike elbows with Western States runners to experience one of the most epic sections of this historic trail – descend and ascend El Dorado Canyon to Devil’s Thumb, and back to Michigan Bluff. You will have earned your Coke and Pay Day bar.
Resources
Auburn State Recreation Area Canyon Keepers (ASRACK)
The Canyon Keepers organize hikes, conduct trail maintenance, provide guided history walks, and assist the professional ranger staff through volunteer work. The Keepers website is a great resource for maps and trails of the ASRA, as well as scheduled events including hikes throughout the remote inches and reaches of the ASRA.
Visit www.members.psyber.com/asra//.
Protect American River Canyon (PARC)
PARC is an “Auburn-based grassroots educational group dedicated to the preservation of the wilderness, recreational, cultural, and historical resources of the North and Middles Forks of the American River and its canyons for all to responsibly care for and enjoy.” The website is a wealth of information – from outings and events to the canyons natural and more recent history.
Visit www.parc-auburn.org/
Giddy up – see you on the trails.
Julie Young was a top U.S. professional cyclist for 12 years and has since transitioned to trail running and cross-country skiing. She is the owner of o2 Fitness and now coaches endurance athletes in the region. Check her out online at www.o2fitness.net.