One of the great things about having hiking as one of your hobbies is that it never gets old. Each time you go for a hike, you have an entirely new experience. Whether you are checking out a new area, or traversing a new type of terrain you are going to have new experiences that will lead to new memories.
A couple of weekends ago, my husband and I went for hike that was a new experience for me in many ways. First of all, our hike took place in a new area that I had not yet explored. We hiked deep into the Sierra Mountains, winding our way up into the alpine. The trail was challenging and at times we weren't even sure if we were still on the trail because it was so unmaintained.
It was also a very long hike. In fact, it ended up being the longest day hike that I have done to date. We ended up going over 11 miles round-trip. (My super-human husband has done much further day hikes, but for me it was a milestone!)
Another first: it was our dog, Gunner's, very first hike with his new backpack on! It was also the longest hike that we have ever brought Gunner along on, so it was a very big day for him. Having our trusty dog by our side as we made our way up into the mountain peaks was such a fun experience.
The most memorable part of the hike was the way back down the mountain. The sun was setting, staining the sky a brilliant lavender against which the peaks of the Sierras stood out starkly in contrast. The sky darkened, the stars began to come out, sparkling against an indigo backdrop. The moon glowed full and brilliant, lighting the way for us as we stepped carefully along what we were *pretty* sure was the path.
Soon, darkness enveloped us and all we had to guide us back down out of the mountains was the light of the full moon. It was a haunting, magical experience. I had never hiked in the dark before, much less hiked down a mountain on a less than marked path with nothing to light my way but the moonshine. I was in awe, and if I'm being honest, I was more than a little afraid that a cougar or bear was going to jump at me from the darkness at any moment. But more than that, I was thrilled and I felt more alive than I have in a long long time.
New experiences do that: they make you feel alive. Hiking is a new experience each time you go. It's a challenge, it's a little scary at times, it's maybe even a little dangerous at times. But hiking takes you to incredible places that not a lot of people get to go. It shows you things that you haven't seen before. So, next time you're feeling bored and in need of a burst of life, I suggest going for a hike. It's good for the soul.
Maybe you've heard the old saying: the best way to train for backpacking is to backpack. If you hadn't heard it before, you have now. And it's a pretty solid statement. Nothing can prepare your body for backpacking except, well, backpacking.
For anyone who is interested in starting backpacking, my advice is this:
1. Invest in a good pack that is comfortable for you and fits your body type.
2. Get yourself the proper gear such as a sleeping bag, a sleeping pad, a tent, a stove + fuel, a water purification system, food, warm layers, rain layers, headlamp, etc...
3. Then pack up all of your gear into your backpack, strap in on your back, and hit the trails.
Day hikes will do. Just get that full pack on your back whenever you go out. You don't want the first time that you hit the trail with a full pack on to be when you are heading out on your maiden overnight backpacking trip.
Trust me, wearing your loaded up pack on day hikes is the BEST way to build up the proper muscles and strength required for backpacking. All of the squats and burpees in the world won't be able to prepare you for a steep climb up a mountain over uneven terrain with a 30+lb pack on your back.