one more day of hiking. yes, another day. another 12 miles.
but for some reason the aches and pains have begun to recede. to say they have vanished would be a stretch, however.
i am beginning to get into a rhythm of hiking 12 miles a day. wow. holy cow. amazing. who would have thought…
upon reflection, i think the keys to doing this are:
- getting eight hours of sleep the night before,
- taking a couple of Aleve’s in the morning,
- have a really good breakfast,
- drinking lots of water throughout the day,
- wearing good supportive and comfortable shoes,
- choosing a comfortable hiking outfit to wear, and wearing it everyday, day after day
- having an outfit that has layers that can easily be added or removed for winds, rain, sweat, coldness, overheating, etc.
- not taking a step without the use of two hiking poles!
- putting your cell phone away except for directional, map and GPS use
- taking a break from time to time, just stopping to enjoy the scene
- midway (and whenever you feel like it during the hike) taking some nourishment, some food
- in the last half of the hike, beginning to take some electrolytes with your water
- when you complete your hike, taking two more Aleve’s.
but most importantly, i would suggest, are the following two keys:
- develop a pace for yourself, one that you are very comfortable with, one that is not pushing it, and one that is not too relaxed, but one that has a pattern to it, a pulse to it, a rhythm to it.
- get your mind set, get it squared away. the right mental attitude is crucial. and this is not easy. 12 miles of hiking is roughly 6 hours of walking, not counting stops for lunch and other reasons. so, the kinds of self talk that i have found helpful includes — telling yourself out loud that this is a beautiful day, reminding yourself of how lucky you are to be able to be outside and exercising, wondering what and whom you are going to run into, see and do during this hike, and reassuring yourself that you can do this and that you can make it — that you have done it before, and that it is just one step in front of another.
in addition there is the issue of whether to hike alone or with someone or others. i have mixed feelings about this. on the one hand, i love hiking alone. the solitude, the opportunity to just focus on nature, the chance to get lost in your own thoughts, the alone time — all are wonderful.
on the other hand, hiking with others is so great for a couple of reasons. it provides the chance to have quality time with another person, the chance to engage in a meaningful conversation that is not broken up by the interjections of day to day life (e.g., phone calls, texts, to do lists, etc).
hiking with someone also makes the time go much faster. and it provides the opportunity to share an experience with someone else. all great stuff.
one of the great things about a 6+ hour hike is that there is plenty of time to hike by yourself and plenty of time to hike with others.
please feel free to share your own suggestions, keys, secrets and comments.