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The major goal of my hiking is to improve my physical shape and endurance. Ultimately, I plan to hike the Knobstone Trail, but there is much to prepare before attempting a 48 mile trail out and then back. How much water must I pack? Are my boots up to the task? What clothes are appropriate? What does it feel like to walk all day for a week? Am I going to be able to complete the task?

There is much to learn, but I don't have to learn it all at once. Therefore, I choose to partake in a series of preparatory hikes.

As I have gotten started, I've identified numerous benefits:

 - De-stress
 - Avoid bad TV shows 
 - Working towards/making progress on my goal
 - Fresh air (sometimes there are flowers)
 - Potential weight loss
 - Change of scenery
 - Low cost recreation
 - Straighten my posture a few hours each day
 - The simple act of walking requires the use of 200 muscles in the human body. 40 or so will lift your leg and move it forward.

The Monon Trail's beginning is near my home, so that's a good addition to the series of short hikes I'll be taking.

 Other trails to hike:

Day one starts at the beginning of the trail, Tenth St. and Massachusetts Ave, (46202). There is plenty of parking on Mass Ave. Try to park somewhere near the old Coke Bottling plant. Walk under the 10th St/I-70 overpass and enter the trail on the north side of the road.

I walked for an hour (including a water break) and found myself at 3300 Sutherland Avenue, (46205) and Dr AJ Brown Ave. There is plenty of parking here, so I decided to call it a day and return to my truck. The total hike was about 5 miles which took me 2 hours. The day was warm (80) and a bit muggy. I drank my entire 24 oz water bottle and quite a bit more throughout the rest of the day.

Day two starts at Sutherland Ave. It's 63 degrees, overcast and windy. I'm wearing my hat because I got too much sun yesterday. Tennis shoes instead of boots because it's all flat asphalt and the boots are heavier.

I walked for 45 minutes and reached 54th street, about 2 miles. Since this was intended to be a long lunch instead of taking the afternoon off, I began my return.

The entire walk took only 1 3/4 hour and 20 ounces of water. I did drink more water on the ride home and throughout the evening. Sadly, I have no pictures of the State Fair, the Fall Creek bridge, or the murals along the way. I may have to retake this walk with a camera some time.

Police patrolled the trail in a car, and 911 call boxes are located along the trail.

Day 3 starts at 1051 e 54th st and walks north to 7321 Westfield Blvd 46240. I'm getting a late start so this walk will be shorter. I did manage to get in 1.5 hour and something like 3.5 to 4 miles total.

This is by far my favorite stretch to date. Lush growth reminiscent of the tropics giving way to incredible homes, incredible decks, manicured lawns, garden displays solely to benefit hikers, and lots of clear trail ahead. Eventually this gives way to the smaller, closer homes of Broad Ripple. Then the homes give way to shops that are huge distractions. The Broad Ripple Brew Pub seems call as I pass by. The little outdoor sandwich shop (where I was on 9/11) and more. Beautiful people, some carrying beautiful children on their hip. Young women giggling. This is pretty much Heaven!

Two water overpasses. The first being the inception of the Canal Trail (Park at the Thai Restaurant 1041 Broad Ripple Ave Indianapolis, IN 46220). The second is White River.

Beyond the river is Marrot Park which parallels Westfield Blvd.

Police patrolled the trail on bicycle, and 911 call boxes are located along the trail.

Day 4 Starts at Westfield Blvd. and goes to 96th St. About 2.5 miles for a total of 4.5. No police patrols. Few park benches. Longer stretches between parking lots. Forgot the GPS and the cane. Remembered the camera which I didn't need; no murals, no flower displays. Just miles of trail with hikers, joggers, and bicycles. The crossing in Nora is at the traffic light which is a busy road.

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Page last modified on May 27, 2012, at 05:22 PM EST