I use a Fitbit to keep track of my exercise. It’s fine motivational tool. When I look at the “dashboard” and see that I’ve been sitting around all day, or that my morning exercise walk only generated 15 very active minutes, I get up and do something physical.
But the Fitbit is only a high-tech pedometer. It measures steps, but it doesn’t understand those steps.
Case in point: After I got back from my three-day backpacking trip at the Point Reyes National Seashore in Northern California, I logged into my dashboard to see my Fitbit report. It was gratifying to find that I had far exceeded my regular step goals.
But soon after I logged in, I got an email from Fitbit, congratulating me on earning my 25,000-steps-in-one-day badge. And urging me to try to go for 30,000 steps.
“30,000 steps? Do you know how hard those 25,000 steps were?” I said to the email. (I may have yelled.)
But, of course, it didn’t. It only counts my steps.
I took those 25,000 steps on trails at Point Reyes, carrying my bed, meals, and other necessities on my back. The first few thousand of them were uphill. Then there were quite a few going downhill on a very, very steep grade — one that made my aging knees unhappy.
When things finally leveled off, we were on a trail paralleling the Pacific Ocean. Beautiful views, but miles of trail without any trees or other shade. And when we finally reached Coast Camp, it turned out that our campsite was all the way at the other end. On the bright side, it was very private. Several of the sites at that location left you in full view of everyone else there.
It was enjoyable. At times it was even exhilarating. But it was exhausting.
And the next day was pretty much all uphill. That day’s Fitbit reading was 18,000 steps, but only 46 very active minutes. Walking uphill with a pack on your back gets your heart rate up even if you are only walking about one mile an hour, but Fitbit doesn’t give the kind of measurement it deserves.
This trip was the first time in years that I’d done any serious backpacking. I wasn’t sure I was in shape for it, but despite some sore muscles and aching joints, I did fine. I didn’t even get seriously winded climbing the hills, for which I can thank my Fitbit-inspired exercise program of the last year.
We camped in three different locations. The picture at the top of this post is of a mossy area behind our campsite on the last night (at Sky Camp). We might as well have been in the rain forest. We were tempted to set up our sleeping bags there, but given that the fog came in that night and provided the moss and ferns with more water than they needed, it was good that we stayed on harder ground.
The second picture is of the ocean. Here’s another ocean picture — I was trying to catch a big wave as it was breaking toward the shore.
It may not be obvious from the picture, but you wouldn’t want to swim in that surf.
Here’s the “ceiling” of our “bedroom” the first night, at Glen Camp (taken the next morning):
We met nice people, including the young woman who hiked into our first camp after everyone was on their way to bed, got up and did a day hike the next morning while we lingered over breakfast, and was on her way to see as much as she could the rest of the day before hurrying home so she could work the next day. She made us look like sluggards.
There were lots of people on horseback. There was even more evidence of horses than actual horses. We stepped carefully around a lot of piles.
There were kids in school groups and kids with their parents and folks out for a day hike who made us look young. All in all, a good cross-section of humanity, out enjoying the wilderness.
We had a wonderful time and I want to do it again in one of the many other parks and wilderness areas in California. So I’m going to keep up my Fitbit program. But if it’s expecting to see 30,000 steps in one day from me anytime soon, it better not be holding its breath.