Nora Wotton likes to hike. While on the trail, she’s learned some lessons about hiking, and about life.
In my first article, I told you to take care of your feet. Now I’m telling you to take care of the rest of your body too. You need to take care of your body and soul, and when hiking in nature, I’ve found that your soul is taken care of by the beauty that surrounds us, especially here on PEI.
So. The rest of your body. I guess the most important thing to do is to drink enough water. Make sure you bring it with you unless you’ve checked ahead and know that it’s available along the trail. It’s heavy to carry, but worth it. I don’t really like drinking so the extra weight reminds me to drink, if only to lessen my load.
Food. Important. I always have emergency food in my pack – some almonds, a granola bar, and one of those fruit leather bars – in a pinch they would make an acceptable meal replacement. If you’re doing a day-long hike, make sure there’s somewhere to buy lunch along the way or bring one along with you. My favourite is a peanut butter sandwich and an apple. On one multi-day hike in England, I had the full English breakfast at my B and B every morning, so I chose instead to bring a piece of fruit and a chocolate bar (they’re so much better in Britain) for lunch every day – yum!
Aside from food, it’s good to take care of your actual body parts. I get sore knees, so I do some strengthening exercises a physiotherapist suggested. I have very fussy feet, so I use a knobby massage ball to stretch out my muscles etc. Stretching is always important, and on multi-day hikes, I stretch before I start, every several hours, and if I’m not too tired, when I get in. More likely, when I get in I just put my feet up against the wall for ten minutes. Everyone’s body is different, so pay attention to yours and do what it takes to keep your various parts happy.
Someone said that there’s no such thing as bad weather – just insufficient clothing and lack of conviction. Wear comfortable clothes and try them out before heading out for a multi-day hike since pants that seem to fit perfectly at home, could allow rocks to get in your boot, or chafe, or have pockets too small for your phone, or, or… I like to wear shirts that protect against the sun, so I don’t need to worry about (or carry) sunscreen. Same for a hat. Sunglasses protect your eyes, especially if they are polarized. Lots of people wear shorts hiking, but I prefer lightweight hiking pants since they protect against scratches, ticks, and the sun. A good raincoat is important since it’s really no fun (or even safe in some situations) to be wet, and having all the layers that will protect you from the elements on any given day is necessary. Plan ahead and check the weather forecast every day. It’s not a fashion show out on the trail, so comfort and function rule – you’ll see some beautifully turned out hikers on the trail and often brand-name gear is evident, but if you’re comfortable and protected that’s what’s important, and really no one cares what anyone else is wearing.
Hiking is an amazing hobby that you can do year-round if you take care of yourself. Protect and fuel your body properly and go outside to enjoy the great outdoors!
by Nora Wotton