Hiking – Some Thoughts Before You Go

Hiking – Some Thoughts Before You Go

Some decades ago, I led a hiking staff for a camp in the Colorado Rockies. Each of us averaged about forty miles per week leading groups and then most of us hiked on our days off. Two lessons from this experience can make your hiking more enjoyable.

First, learn your abilities. At our camp, most families checked in on a Sunday and out the following Saturday. Many came to hike, so it was not unusual for us to have entire families signing up for hikes Monday through Friday.

...one the most important things a hiker can do is take care of their feet.

For newcomers at the camps, they had to deal with two things they might not have elsewhere. For starters, our camp sat at 8,000 feet above sea level so most visitors had to acclimate to the elevation. The thinner air could easily leave these folks gasping until they got used to it.

Also, our hikes went up from there. So, in addition to breathing thin air, the beginning part of our hikes was uphill.

Image by David Mark from Pixabay

To help them adapt to the conditions, we began our hike schedule with shorter hikes at the beginning of the week, and then slowly built up the distance and difficulty as the week progressed. Those who struggled with the intermediate distances dropped out before the Friday hike of twelve miles and 12,000 feet above sea level.

Learning your own abilities can be a similar process. Start out with hikes you know you can do. Then, as you progress in difficulty and distance, you will learn the sweet spot of what you actually enjoy walking.

The second lesson from that camp experience is that one of the most important things a hiker can do is take care of their feet. This begins with boot selection.

Photo by Sorin Gheorghita on Unsplash

Casual walkers can get by with sneakers but serious hikers or backpackers would be smart to invest in more supportive shoes or boots. The fit is critical so paying a little more to have a knowledgeable person help you will be worth the investment. And be sure to wear the socks you will hike in as this will affect the fit.

Speaking of socks, these can also be an important part of taking care of your feet. My choice back in my high-mileage days was to wear a thin synthetic sock inside a thicker wool sock. The synthetic sock wicked the moisture away from my foot into the wool and helped prevent blisters.

Also, the slip between the two socks also cut down on the friction with my foot, another aid in reducing blisters. And as it relates to blisters, the time to treat them is before they get bad, not after. When a hot spot starts telling you a problem is occurring, that’s the time to deal with it. Just trim a piece of Moleskin and apply it to the spot. Hiking is an enjoyable way to explore the outdoors, especially when you walk within your abilities and take care of your feet.

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Jim Mize
Award-winning writer
acreektricklesthroughit.com

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