Everything I Know About Getting Into Hiking
The butterflies in my stomach are waking up knowing that hiking season is coming back! I never knew how much I liked it until last year when I forced myself to get out on the mountain and prepare for Rim to Rim of the Grand Canyon. People always say “Find your Thing” when it comes to exercise and I never knew what they meant until now. It’s not exercise to me, it gives me life! Nothing makes me feel closer to myself and gives me a headspace of clarity, than when I am hiking in the mountains.
I have learned a few things about hiking that I didn’t realize were even a thing.
- Hikers don’t like to share their special spots. I'm realizing why, too. When a trail is crowded it kind of takes the magic away. Every time people ask where I’m hiking I’m hesitant to say because it’s sacred. Am I turning into a hiking snob? I think maybe.
- Hiking is hard no matter who you are and what shape you’re in. I don’t care what anyone says, it’s hard.
- Going downhill is so hard on my knees! Nothing makes me feel older than going down a mountain. I know my knees are jacked up, but come on, I’m only 35. I have found that using knee support bands and trekking poles takes a lot of stress off my knees.
- Shoes matter. Investing in a good pair of hiking boots or trail shoes makes a world of difference. The last thing I want to be worrying about are blisters or toenails falling off. Socks also matter! Wool socks are best. They'll help regulate the temperature of your feet and wick away sweat and moisture. Dry feet are happy feet.
- Starting with a hard trail is a mistake. Start with easy trails and then push yourself as you become more experienced.
- There is an app called AllTrails and it's amazing. It features trails from all over the world, so no matter where you are, you can find a great hiking trail. AllTrails also lists the difficulty level for every trail, so you know exactly what you're getting yourself into. You can also track how long you’ve hiked for, how far you’ve gone, and more. It’s free and it’s amazing. 10/10, highly recommend.
- Liquid matters! Having water with you is not only a good idea, it’s crucial. I don’t feel comfortable hiking without it. You don’t have to fill your entire CamelBak or bring a massive water bottle, but I highly recommend always taking some water and a little snack - like chips or something salty. Liquid IV (use code ABIAYRES) is also very good to have on hand on the trail. It's just a yummy powder you add to your water; but it uses science that I don't understand to help more water absorb into your bloodstream before it passes through your digestive system. I always feel more hydrated when I use it.
- Hike at your own pace. Don’t worry about anyone else and don’t try to book it up the trail. Go SLOW and DON'T stop. It’s better to pace super slow, and just keep going than to try and go fast and have to stop to rest. Trust me, this was one of the best pieces of advice I ever got. Just go one step at a time and don’t stop.
- Plan where you’re going and take one friend or two. Hiking is so fun when you can chat with a friend or experience nature with someone you love.
- Above all, I think the best thing that I learned was to just listen. Listen to yourself breath. Listen to nature. Listen to the breeze. Listen to what your body is trying to say - especially when it gets really hard and you want to quit. Every. Single. Time. I hike, I learn a super impactful lesson. It’s magical for me and I know it will be for you too!