Tips for Having a Relaxing Workout While Hiking
Recall for me, if you would, the hike you have walked which most stands out in your mind. What made this the perfect hike? Was it about the place you went and the views you took in? Was it about the company you brought with you and the time you shared? Was it the sensation of relaxation as you got closer to nature and further from your life’s stress? All of these are key features of great hikes. You can have more hikes like them too, with a little analysis and forward thinking. This article will cover A NUMBER of tips for bringing out the most from your hikes.
Make an Essentials Plan
Hiking is at its most impactful when properly planned. If you’ve ever gone out for spontaneous hikes, you know the feeling of realizing you’ve forgotten something important. I recall a time when my college friends and I decided over the course of a five-minute conversation to stand up, go outside and hike a short trail to a nearby waterfall. What should have been a fun summer afternoon turned to misery for me when I realized at the trailhead that I was still wearing my cheap flip-flops, not a pair of close-toed shoes. Not to back down from a challenge to find fun, I hiked the trail anyway. Rest in peace pinky toenails; the stones I bashed you against will remember my fury for a thousand years. For even simple day hikes, you will want a plan and a list of essentials for both your own comfort and safety.
- Choose where you want to go and how much time you want to spend there. A day hike accessible within 20 minutes of your home is a very different affair from a high adventure excursion to the wilds of southern California. Whatever your plan, check the weather to make sure you dress appropriately.
- Tell someone where you are going, who you are going with, and when you plan on being back. Check in with them if your plans change and/or when you have successfully returned.
- Pack plenty of fresh water and some energy-rich snacks. Not all hikes are 50-mile backpacking excursions, but every hike deserves good hydration and something to munch on as the miles go by.
- Wear the right gear for the trip. Not every hike is an assault on Everest, so not every hike needs super expensive gear. Your essentials are, durable, comfortable shoes that can handle the trail you intend to take them on, pants suitable for the weather and environment, layers for tops so you can manage personal temperature and shifts in weather, and a bag to carry your hiking essentials in. Also, consider a basic first aid kit for managing the scrapes and bruises of hiking.
Keep an Eye on Your Health and Wellness
Hiking is an activity that people of varying levels of fitness can enjoy. It is important to know your limits and the limits of anyone you plan to hike with. While there are many factors to consider when choosing a hike, an important symptom to keep track of is foot pain. Your feet can wear out over time and even lead to flat feet pain if the tendons in your arches get stressed and flatten. Be aware of any health condition which can influence the intensity and length of hike you plan.
Plan on the Non-Essentials
Once you are certain that your hike will be safe, and that you and anyone else coming along is dressed for success, then start thinking about additional details to create a special experience. Is anyone bringing a camera to grab some great landscape shots? Are you bringing some extra supplies to throw a picnic out in a scenic spot mid-way through the hike? Is there a river, pond, or lake you want to take a dip in along the way? Hiking itself is rewarding but can be augmented by additional activities sprinkled throughout. Are you familiar with the trail you are hiking on and your group is unfamiliar? How can you act as a tour guide to the area? How can you go the extra mile to make this hike special?
The favorite hike I pictured in the intro was a group backpacking excursion through Southern Colorado. I went on when I was in my teens. I went with a bunch of my high school friends and our dads were all with us. One of the dads knew part of our route well where it crossed the continental divide. Up on that ridge, the snow melted into a small brook which eventually grew into a creek that ran through the valley. Once we reached that spot, my friend’s dad stopped us and pulled out a handheld water filtration pump. He proceeded to fill each of our water bottles with the filtered snowmelt water and spice things up with some lemonade mix. We took in the view drinking the freshest lemonade any of us had ever had. That was an unforgettable, safe hike; made all the more memorable by an extra mile of planning.