Wednesday, February 7, 2018

Tai Chi Senior Capstone Project

Colby-Sawyer College (CSC) is a dynamic and innovative liberal arts and sciences college located in the scenic Lake Sunapee Region of central New Hampshire. (

I was a guest of a friend who was a community member of the Dan and Kathleen Hogan Sports Center.  We were there for a physical workout of running, rowing machine, bicycle machine, weights, and one-on-one basketball.

On the reception desk I saw the below sign by senior students seeking older adults to participate in a Tai Chi study.  The students were looking for participants to engage in research looking at the effects of Tai Chi on center of balance and fall confidence in senior adults.  Given my mantra of, Never say, “I wish I had …”, I provided my wife’s and my email address to them. A week later we received an invite to participate in this six-week study.

As the three students readily stated in the evaluation form we completed, they were not certified in Tai Chi.  One of the students had taken Tai Chi lessons in the summer and prepared a proposal that would provide an opportunity for them to demonstrate to their faculty capstone committee, the application of their four years of academic study at CSC.

So, what is Tai Chi? Originating in ancient China, Tai Chi is one of the most effective exercises for health of mind and body. Although an art with great depth of knowledge and skill, it can be easy to learn and soon delivers its health benefits.

During the first class we were asked to demonstrate certain metrics for the students to measure (stand on one foot, rise from a chair, walk a circle), as well as complete a background form.  The students stated at the end of the six weeks they were to again measure the metrics and do an analysis of change from week one to week six.

The below video was taken at the beginning of week three.  The video here in no way is connected to the student capstone, but the theme of this motivation blog, Never say, “I wish I had …”, hopefully will encourage this reader to try something they have never tried before.  My wife and I now, never have to say, "I wish I had experienced Tai Chi".

And yes, this video is at normal speed.  Tai Chi moves are slow motion and low impact.

Oh, one more thing.  I give my permission to the students to use this blog and video, and any follow-up post and video I do, in their capstone as they deem appropriate.

Here are the references used by wife and me as we researched Tai Chi to practice during days we could not participate at the college.

 Tai Chi for Beginners Video | Dr Paul Lam | Free Lesson and Introduction
 Learn Tai Chi 8 forms for beginners (English version) - Hong Kong Jackysum5
 What is Tai Chi

Sunday, February 4, 2018

Four 60+years young friends winter hike to AMC's Lonesome Lake Hut

What does it feel like for four friends, all 60+years young in good physical condition to do a winter hike into Lonesome Lake Hut? 

Grab your favorite beverage, relax, and enjoy the hike as Lennie, Joe, John and Steve hike from Lafayette Camp Ground uphill through woods to the Appalachian Mountain Club (AMC)  Lonesome Lake Hut.  The temperature is in single digits, windy, and deep packed snow. 

If you read about the Lonesome Lake Hut references you will see it is promoted as an easy hike for families.  Well, I must admit it was a very challenging hike for us. The first hour was up – up – and up and we frequently paused to experience the Franconia Notch views, or as one of my companions suggested, “the views are an excuse to catch our breath". We added a stop to put hand-warmers in our gloves and mittens. The trail crisscrossed up the steep mountain through the trees and rocks, with the trampled trail sometime 1-foot in width embedded into the side of the hill.  When you stepped off the trail, you could sink up to your thigh – and we quickly learned to stay on the snow packed trail. 

How do we dress?

This winter weather demands we dress appropriately for very cold weather.  We also need to decide, cross country skis, snowshoes, or micro spikes?  Given we are hiking uphill through the woods, that means XC skis are out.  If we were the first hikers through 3 feet of snow, snowshoes would be our choice to keep us on top of the snow.  However, we are not the first hikers on this trail, and the last week has resulted in hard-packed snow.  Do we wear only insulated boots or micro spikes.  Given rain last week on top of snow, and we would be in single digit cold, we made micro spikes on our boots our choice.

 Although Lonesome Lake Hut in the winter is self-service with sleeping accommodations, we planned only a day hike. Our uphill trip took just over one and a half hours to the hut.  Our return downhill hike on the same trail was one and a quarter hours.

The below video is a celebration of Lennie’s retirement.

About Lonesome Lake Hut

Lonesome Lake Hut’s elevation is 2,760 feet with the 12 acre Lonesome Lake in its front yard.  The hut is on the Appalacian Trail.  The view from the hut provides spectacular views of the Franconia Ridge across pristine glacial Lonesome Lake and the nearby 4,000-foot peaks, including Cannon Mountain.

Lonesome Lake Hut is a 1.6 mile hike starting at Lafayette parking area ascending 950 feet. This is the westernmost hut of the eight AMC wilderness huts on the Appalachian Trail (AT) in the White Mountains of New Hampshire.

The below New Hampshire State Parks map is most interesting.  You can see our trail in blue from Lafayette camp ground up to Lonesome Trail Hut (green).  But this map has more ... you can identify the Franconia Ridge 4,000+ footers (Mt Layfayette, Mt Lincoln, Little Haystack, Mt Liberty) as you climb and descend Lonesome Lake Trail.  Also, you can identify the Cannon Balls and Cannon Mt mountains looking north from the porch of Lonesome Lake Hut



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