The snow is melting, the birds are singing- hiking season is almost here! Welcoming in a new season for exploring and lots of time on the trail is so exciting. To keep your transition from winter smooth, try these four steps to be ready for a fresh season of adventure.
Whether your winter is full of hot chocolate and days on the couch or snowshoeing and taking runs down the slopes, the physical demands of hiking and backpacking are unique. Ideally, you should have a mix of cardio, strength training, and balance work to fully prepare your body for hiking season.
I like to do a Tabata strength workout that focuses on core, legs, back, and shoulders, complemented with yoga practice and cardio cross training like running, walking or cycling.
For a quick and simple workout that you can adjust to your current fitness level, try:
- 30 seconds crab walk
- 30 seconds jump squats
- 30 seconds glute bridges
- 30 seconds lunge (one side)
- 30 seconds lunge (other side)
- 30 seconds plank
- 30 seconds plank, alternating from palms to forearms
- 30 seconds side plank (one side)
- 30 seconds side plank (other side)
- 30 seconds mountain climbers
Be sure to properly stretch, warm up, and cool down with each workout. With this Tabata, add cardio and balance training. Simple exercises to add in balance training include standing with one leg hovering about 6 inches above the ground for 30 seconds, and 30 seconds of sit-to-stands.
2. Gear Check
Just before hiking season is a great time to assess your hiking gear set-up. Dust off your backpack and boots, and start ticking off this list:
- Go through your first aid kit. Is there anything missing or needing to be replaced?
- Check your headlamp/flashlight. Is it working? Do you have extra batteries for it?
- Look over gear that has been stored away for a while. Is everything in good condition? Watch for danger signs like dampness, small holes, or intense peeling of the inner laminate of your backpack, which could indicate molding or rotting. Make sure to pull out sleeping bags, tents, and pads to do a complete check.
- For your waterproof gear, is the waterproof layer fully sealed? For old or often used waterproof gear, try using a sport wash and spray-on waterproofing treatment (both available at most local gear shops) to make sure you stay dry when weather is wet.
3. Trail Research
As hiking season approaches, take some time to think through what trails you would like to hike this year. Do you have any goals for this season, like a specific peak, location, distance or time?
Begin to do your research on new trails to see and areas to explore, and take a peek at familiar trails, too, in case there have been closures that could affect you. Taking the time to research some possible routes for the season now will pay off when you have the perfect day and are excited to get out into nature as soon as possible.
4. Get Mentally Ready
What is it that keeps you hiking? Why do you wake up before the sun and go walk uphill for hours? Prepare yourself mentally for the things that you love most about hiking. If you enjoy hiking with friends, send a message and start planning your first day back on the trail. Do you enjoy sharing stunning photography from your exploring? Dive into recent pictures from your favorite nature photographers, or practice using that new lens that will give you a clearer shot than last year. Mentally prepare for the things you love, and allow yourself to get excited about this year’s hiking season. Think through some areas where you would like to improve. How can you practice having a positive attitude on that brutal, steep mile, or improving your time this season? Make a plan for yourself, as detailed as you want it, to make these hikes even better than ones past.
Do you have any special ways you prepare for hiking season? What gets you excited to get back out on the trail? Please share in the comments below, and enjoy the anticipation of a season of wild places and new beginnings!