Fulfill Your Hiking Dream! Here to help fellow hikers by offering wisdom, ideas, and lessons learned from a two-time AT North and South, Long Trail, Foothills Trail, Allegheny Trail, Colorado Trail, Florida Trail, Shenandoah Nat'l Park 500 miler completions. Former AT Ridgerunner for six years, Author, Speaker on Hiking and Backpacking
I have hiked in all kinds of weather. Snow, sleet, thunderstorms, rain. And I know how tempting it is to walk away from the hiking trip you’ve
planned for weeks or even months, only to see yourself calling up a friend to
take you home. It’s not easy when even your first day in the woods is spent in
heavy rain and wind that soaks you. Or your muscles are crying out for relief. The
terrain is battering your flesh to a pulp. Or this wave comes over you of – “What
am I doing out here!” Yes, I have been through all of it and more.
Some reasons why hikers may quit their hike and some
pack weight. You are carrying everything you can think of, and normally
that means you are carrying way too much to make the hike comfortable. Take out
needless ounces that add up to pounds. Take only what you will use. See if there
are weight-saving alternatives, like a headlamp vs. a heavy flashlight. A small
knife rather than a big one. Chemical treatment for water vs. a pump. A titanium
pot vs. a heavy aluminum one. Also, hikers tend to carry too much food. I blog on food choices. There are lightweight choices out there, too. Even dried peanut butter. Just be sure you are also packing good nutrition. If you are out for only a weekend or even a week, you won't yet have the hiker appetite of long distance hiking.
miles. Okay, so some buff hikers breeze by you on their way to a 15 mile
day, and you think you should do that too. The next day you can barely move.
Not a good idea. Slow miles at first until you acclimate. Give yourself a
chance out there. It’s not a race. Or a competition. Take ti easy and enjoy the journey.
expectations. It can go along with the above but you have some grandiose
idea what the hike will be like, only to find it is not meeting your expectations
of fun. Fun can be defined in many ways. It does not mean it will be pain free.
But surely it is better than being stuck at home or behind a desk in the office.
Shift your mental aspects to finding some positive things about the experience.
A great sunset. A spider web dotted with dew. A flowing stream. The companionship
of fellow hikers you meet along the way. The good feeling at meeting a goal,
however small or large it is.
Yes, a nasty rain can suck the life out
of a hike. Things get wet. You get wet. Be sure you are protecting yourself and
your gear. Invest in good raingear. A pack cover and a pack liner (I am liking Zpacks pack liner more and more after being through some nasty storms). Bag your sleeping
bag and clothes in waterproof bags so if your pack gets wet, your core clothing
and sleeping bag is dry. Most of all, realize
the sun WILL come out and you WILL be able to dry out.
Not necessarily an injury (which is a different scenario that may require you
to temporarily get off), but you are suffering aches, pains blisters. Well, you
are putting your body through things it’s not used to. Realize the pain will
not last either, so long as you are wearing the right shoes, the right socks,
and carrying the pack that fits you properly. Reducing pack weight will help
minimize the aches. Cut your mileage to begin. Dry out your feet whenever you
stop. I think gaiters keep your feet pretty hot in warm weather, so I don’t
wear them. The little aches and pains will diminish. Take frequent rest breaks.
Drink plenty of water. If you can tolerate it, taking some Tylenol will help
with the pain. Usually after a few days those pains begin to diminish. If they
do not, then you may need to reassess your gear to find out what’s up. Or if
there are physical limitations that need to be addressed.
The next time you are thinking of quitting, check out the
reasons above and see if you can make some changes. Guaranteed with some minor
adjustments, the idea of quitting a hike will become a thing of the past.