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Sunday, February 14, 2010

Snow, Lime Kiln Loop Trail, and SportyPal

Snow in the Rockwood Reservation

Today was a rather good day all around -- the Feast of the Transfiguration of our Lord, Valentine's Day, and snow in Saint Louis, MO. I grew up in Michigan and always have enjoyed the snow. It is a rare treat to have nice, fluffy snow -- the kind of snow that comes when the air temperature is about 2°F. The snow brought back memories of cross-country skiing in Michigan, so I went hiking. Several inches of snow fell, making the roads slick -- in fact, I watched two teenage girls drive their car into a guard rail on a hill and then helped them get their car back on the road, as I drove to the Rockwood Reservation (Click Here for the Missouri Department of Conservation Page) in Wildwood, MO.  

Missouri has many great parks suitable for hiking and cycling (my major outdoor activity from April through October). According to the brochure, the Rockwood Reservation "was established in 1938, making it one of the oldest Conservation Areas. The 1,880-acre area provides opportunities to enjoy and learn about Missouri's fish, forest and wildlife resources through hiking trails, the Education Center and naturalist-led interpretive programs." Rockwood Reservation has springs, caves, and interesting rock formations as well as a variety of animal life.

Old Lime Kiln at head of the trail

I hiked the Lime Kiln Loop Trail, which features a lime kiln from the 19th century. The trail itself is about 3.1 miles long, one of the longest trails at the Rockwood Reservation. From the lowest to the highest elevation of the trail, a person will climb 300 feet -- not quite like hiking House Mountain in Knox County Tennessee, which is a climb of 900 feet over a mile -- enough to get a pretty good work out. The snow was quite a contrast to the tropics of Haiti. After a few pictures, the text continues with a brief discussion of SportyPal.

View Along The Trail

The Red Circles Indicate Deer

Creek Along the Trail

Rockwood Reservation (Click on Map to Enlarge)

When I go hiking, cycling, or walking around the neighborhood, I use a program called SportyPal. This is a great program that runs on your smart phone. Currently, the program runs on Windows Mobile, iPhone, Android phones, phones that run Java, and a few others. When you start the program, you tell it what kind of a workout you plan to do -- walking, cycling, free-style, running, skiing, etc. The program uses the GPS feature of your phone to track your speed, altitude, and distance traveled. Based on the type of workout selected, the program estimates how many calories you burned while exercising. While exercising, your phone continues to work as normal -- so you can receive text messages, email, phone calls, etc. The program also allows you to take photos along your exercise path (the photos above were taken while SportyPal was running). Once you are finished with your workout, the program allows you to upload the data to a website. This is where things get cool. Your path is plotted out on a Google Map (see below). Best of all the program and the web account are free. I highly recommend it.

My Hike at the Lime Kiln Loop (click to enlarge)

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