I’ve been fascinated the last couple of years with our bodies ability to recover from intense exercise and advances in technology that allows the average person to monitor and take advantage of this information, hopefully to our benefit. I had planned to complete both Antelope Peak and Unnamed Peak 6371 yesterday, but after hiking to the summit of peak 6371 it was just too hot. I figured by the time I hiked back down, drove and located the new route to Antelope Peak it would be 90 degrees. So having researched the beta (information) I needed to climb Antelope Peak I determined as I went to bed that if I woke up with a green reading I would drive out a little earlier and make the attempt.
Of the many wearable devices that exist to help determine activity, sleep, and recovery, I have used 3. So I am by no means an expert, but I like, what I like due to the data that it gives me compared to several other wearables that I have researched. I wear the Whoop strap, but I have also used Ithlete to track HRV (Heart rate variable) and I still follow Ithlete for HRV research and information. The third device is a cheesy tracker that my company gave me as part of their wellness plan, I don’t wear it, but I do put it in my pocket on occasion.
The Whoop strap tracks total strain and cardiovascular load, combined with sleep and HRV uses an algorithm to determine your bodies ability to take on strain, giving you a Red, Yellow, or Green reading. I woke up with a recovery score of 67% Green.
The drive to East Antelope Road is quick and the temperature is a cool 63 degrees. East Antelope Road is a very well maintained gravel road, with only the occasionally washboard effect and a few potholes near washes that cross the road when raining. I have the long straight road to myself as I move up and over the various washes and minor ridges. This is open grazing so I’m not speeding and slow down when cows are present. The several thousand-pound cows will do damage, but they are experienced enough to stay out of the road, it’s the new heifers that you have to keep an eye on. They will dart at the last minute to cross the road to their mothers.
My approach road is worse than the other roads I’ve experienced in the area, dodging the many Juniper Trees that dot the hillside. And no road exists where I had expected to drive to near the base of the peak. A road exists in the area because I could see it on Google Maps, but I am unable to find the correct spot to turn off. I turn around and chase down a couple of side roads only to turn around again. Chewing up daylight and watching the temperature gauge rise, I finally settle on a spot that is about 3/4 mile away and decided I can walk the distance faster than trying to locate the mystery road.
About a 1/4 mile hike and I find the road, still not sure of where it starts, I make little note other than it is well-traveled and has an east/west direction. I’m hiking south toward the peak, moving up a long, slightly elevated red ridge. If you check out Google Map, the red ridge is obvious compared to the white rock that makes up Antelope Peak. Skirting a couple of cliff bands I reach the steep face of Antelope Peak in full sun and start my ascent.
The lower hillside is covered in scree from the deterioration of the large rocky outcroppings near the summit. I follow a few well-worn game trails and switchback my way up to the high cliff bands. I am on the northern side of a larger wash, but I can see dozens of windows, alcoves, and arches in the rocky face across from me. The composite rock appears to first form an alcove, then the backside of the alcove washes away leaving some impressive arches. I can’t get close enough to examine them, but several look amazing. The large rocky nose on the northwestern side also boosts these alcove type structures.
I pick my way through the cliff bands following game trails to the high ridgeline leading to the nose. It is easier hiking up the ridge with only the occasional rocky outcropping to arrive at the summit.
A rocky and grass-covered summit complete with large summit cairn and survey marker exists along with a swarm of gnats and flying ants. I’m not sure why but many a summit experience can be ruined by these pesky little flying bugs. I take a few quick pictures and move off the summit to find a good rock to sit and a slight breeze to keep the bugs away.
Of course, it is beautiful here this morning in the morning sun. A few more clouds cover the sky than yesterday and the humidity feels like rain today but I enjoy the view and have a snack.
I’m most the way through a bottle of water and my snack when the wind shifts and with it swarms in the gnat population. I swing my backpack over one shoulder and move further on down the ridge. I hike about a quarter of the way down the ridgeline unable to locate another location to sit and finish my break, so I simply stand to finish.
I pass through the cliff bands again, still in awe of the unique rock structure and the plentiful windows and arches. Below the cliff band, I make quick work of the scree with the step and slide method in a fairly straight line to the red ridge. I spot several more access roads on my drive out, any one of which could lead one closer to the base of Antelope Peak or end in several ways as many of the other roads I tried to follow did. Beautiful morning hike complete with a large strain to see how well I will be recovered tomorrow.
For additional study on HRV and performance this is a good article.