Hiking is essential no matter what season you’re in (unless it’s hiking in hurricane-like weather…that’s probably not a good idea.)
If you are planning on taking a weekend away to go bush whacking, river traversing, mountain climbing and all round adventuring, then here’s some hearty tips you’ll need to know.
Did you know you should plan on eating one snack every hour while hiking? But not just any snack, you should alternate between something sweet and something salty. The sweet makes you happy and the salty, well that promotes hydration and puts the electrolytes your body is burning up back into your system!
So far my favourite hiking lunch box has included:
Sliced capsicum/carrots with a balsamic dipping sauce, home-made oat and chocolate cookies, orange slices, salted cashews/pretzels, a mint-chocolate protein bar, a banana and some super tasty potato salad (which was accompanied by hot coffee from my flask).
Mother Nature doesn’t care if she ruins your weekend. She will do what she wants to do, so be prepared for all types of weather.
I tend to hike in shorts, and a singlet. I take a thermal shirt with me, a lightweight wind resistant, rain coat and sometimes my vest. I’ve been testing out hiking packs since being here and I can honestly say, a pack with a waist strap is the way to go. It helps you create a better centre of gravity with the weight.
I also prefer a bag with lots of easy to access pockets, especially because I am asthmatic it’s handy to have my inhaler separate and easy to get to. Find something that is comfy for you and can hold everything you need – remember there should always be room for a first aid kit!
Recently my hiking partner and I hiked through an amazing canyon; climbing rocks over twice my height, balancing on logs, getting our toes wet in 1-degree water peeing in the bush and picnicking on the side of a stream. Sounds great huh? It was great, but it wasn’t actually the trail we were meant to hike. Our actual trail was 31km away on the other-side of the valley.
While we didn’t get hurt or lost or encounter a bear (highly likely here in Canada), if we had, no one would have been able to find us. Even though bear attacks are more than unlikely in NZ, changes in the weather freak accidents and injuries are just as likely so making sure your directions are accurate is important.
Don’t forget to tell someone where you’re going, and what time you intend on being home.
Just the other week my hiking partner and I hiked one of the most muscle burning hikes yet. With an estimated 60degree gradient incline, raising 816m our muscles were sore. During our ascend we watched a number of hikers lose their footing on the way down and heard each other’s shows slip on the loose stone every now and again. Checking in on one another often we were en route to reach the summit.
About 150m from the top, my hiking partner turned and looked at me defeated. ‘I can’t” she said. Looking up to the Saddle, I knew we were so close to spectacular views. ‘What’s wrong?’ I asked, knowing she is much fitter than I am. She told me she wasn’t sure she could make it down. Up, piece of cake, down not so much. I understood. The ground was so worn there was virtually no traction.
Perching ourselves in near some lone trees, I dashed around trying to find a sturdier path. With no luck we regrouped. Sitting myself down next to my disappointed hiking partner, I pulled out our flask of coffee, looked around us, watched as a lady with hiking poles almost fell down the side of the mountain, and said ‘going up is optional, getting down is mandatory’.
While it might be disheartening not to make the summit, there is no shame in not making especially if you’re not certain of yourself. You always have to be certain of yourself when hiking, otherwise you’ll end up hurt. There is always next time.
5. The Moment
Honestly, the number of other hikers that missed spectacular views, little critters and weirdly shaped plants on the way to the summit was ridiculous. Be in the moment. Don’t miss out on the little things in life.
Taking the time to stop, I got to see a red tree squirrel crack a nut, a hawk catch a field mouse, a fox jump across the trail, and mountain goats graze peacefully. So many people were so focused on getting to the top, that the missed some of nature’s most beautiful moments.
When you get to the summit, take the first 3 minutes to just breathe in the magic of it all. Don’t think about the gram, don’t snapchat, don’t take a selfie.
For the first three minutes just admire what you see. You won’t regret it.