Graduate From Neighborhood Walks to Trail Hikes

While grand plans for a long-distance hike are exciting and fun to contemplate, not everyone is cut out. Or are you? Maybe you just don’t know it yet!

If you think even walking is beyond your capabilities, stop thinking that way! Walking, hiking or backpacking – is a matter of mindset. You either desire to do it or not! So what is it?

If it’s YES, then how do you proceed? First things first, if this is entirely new to you or you haven’t been walking, check with your doctor. Make sure to clear any of your concerns with the doctor, explaining what your plans are. 

For beginners, a hike can be as simple as a walk in your neighborhood or park. It’s where you start if this is all new. Don’t overdo it at first, even if you can only walk to the corner and back. Be consistent. Your body is an amazing machine and will respond to the demands placed on it. 

My husband for example: At age 70, at the beginning of Covid in 2019, decided to walk. At first, it was once around the block. He gradually built up to add a second block, then a third and fourth. I could tell he was even increasing his speed. He now walks 45 minutes every day and has dropped 30 pounds! While he has no grand plan to join me backpacking, he continues his daily walk. I’m so proud of his accomplishment!

To increase your skill, find an unpaved trail with a more challenging tread. Something with uneven ground or rocks & branches to step over. If necessary, get a pair of trekking poles to help with stability. Even experienced backpackers like myself continue to enjoy the added security of “4 legs!” For help finding trails in your area try the AllTrails App. It describes the difficulty level, how long, and elevation gain.

Next week I’ll touch on other ways to prepare not only physically but mentally for hiking and especially long-distance backpacking.

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