Monday, August 26, 2019

Trek Preparation: Mind & Body (Guest Post)

September 10, 2012 by  
Filed under Fitness & Health, Trail Tips, Uncommon Sense

Heading out on a long trek can provide enthusiastic walkers with breathtaking scenery to admire and a true escapism from the pressures of everyday life.  The crisp fresh air and the opportunity to disconnect from the hustle and bustle of the usual crowds can be extremely therapeutic.  It’s fair to say however that a trek over considerable land or mountainside can be both mentally and physically exhausting, so it’s best to take some time before you head out to prepare your mind and body for an enjoyable yet challenging adventure.  In this article, we’ll take a look at some great ways to make sure you are well-prepared for whatever may lie on the path ahead!

Fitness:  Depending on the size of the trek you wish to undertake, it is important that you are of appropriate physical fitness.  You need to be confident in your abilities and have the will power to succeed just like in any other sporting activity.  Having an early night to ensure your body is well rested, and starting the day with a substantial breakfast which provides you with plenty of energy is important.  Packing a bag with essential snacks to keep your energy levels up during the hike will also prove essential in achieving the most enjoyable and less strenuous walking experience.

Taking along 2 hiking/trekking poles can be a great help, as not only do they give you extra support and reduce the weight strain on both your legs, but they also help maintain balance and give you strength when tackling any steep or uneven surfaces.  Ensure you know how to use the equipment properly however as you don’t want to cause any unnecessary strain whilst on your hike.  Learning the benefits of such a useful device can help massively and instantly improve the amount of terrain you can undertake in a shorter period of time.

If you are looking to begin taking up hiking as a regular hobby or are interested in progressing to more serious challenges then it is extremely advisable to advance slowly and take each walk at your own pace. Increasing your stamina is vital as becoming exhausted half way through can make for a very slow and uncomfortable walk back. The more walks you undertake, the easier they should become to evolve into a more leisurely activity.

Those who suffer from hay fever or asthma (or any other respiratory problems that may be triggered during your trek) should take along any inhalers or antihistamines that will help them with their journey.  Be sure you are well hydrated before heading out. Drink plenty of water whilst walking to ensure your body has the right amount of liquid it needs to endure the physical activity, especially if the weather is hot.

Mental Preparation:  Many people love the solitude and escapism of a long walk or intense trek, but for those who are new to the idea, it may be worth taking a little time to think about how you can best prepare for the outing.

If you get bored easily or feel uneasy being alone for too long, finding a partner you know and trust to take up trekking with you is a fast and enjoyable solution to this problem. Be sure you are both physically able to undertake the journey and be sure they have topped up on their trekking tips too.  Those who appreciate nature will undoubtedly discover many hidden gems depending on the location of their walk.   The overall health benefits of even a casual stroll in the open air can be extremely beneficial too.  Not only does it help you relax, unwind, release stress and regain focus, the source of sunlight that you receive from being outside will boost your source of essential vitamin D.  Although walking isn’t commonly referred to as an active sport, it is quite obviously a form of exercise and can therefore be great for people who want to improve their fitness or even lose weight.

Recuperating after a trek is just as important as preparing for the trek itself.  The recovery process is vital to keep your body in the best condition possible. Eating a meal high in protein on your return is essential for muscle repair.  Soaking in a hot bath or shower to replenish your body’s strength and loosen up is also important to ensure the best recovery.  You may also wish to indulge in a cold bath to ice sore body parts such as the ankles or knees which will have endured pressure whilst walking.  Be certain to get plenty of rest and maybe even perform a few relaxing stretches when you get home in order to make sure you are ideally fit to trek another day!

This article was written by Alexandra, an experienced blogger who is enthusiastic about encouraging a healthy lifestyle on behalf of Bathshop321 which provides an excellent range of shower baths at incredible prices!

Trekking Pole & Trail Tips, plus some photos

May 21, 2012 by  
Filed under Nature, Pole Tips, Trail Tips

As we head into our dryer Summer, we encounter different challenges on the trail than we experience in Winter or Spring.

The poison oak this year is obscene.  I got a bad case through clothing.    I had to step into the poison oak to help someone who had fallen down the trail.  He sat down to rest and kept rolling backwards down hill.  He ended up in a heap, upside down and backwards, in the poison oak.   It never occurred to me that the poison oak would seep thru my pant legs.  I got a very bad case behind my legs, not on my arms or exposed skin (where I vigorously washed with cold water, soap and Tecnu).

Avoiding the poison oak yesterday was practically impossible.  I had brought along a long sleeve shirt for TWO reasons:

  1. Poison oak protection
  2. To wet down in a cool stream which lowers my core and arm temperature.  I do this for comfort and to avoid a lymphedema flare-up.  On a hot day, this is HUGELY helpful.  It also helps extend drinking water if I’m running low (which I try NEVER to do, but on hot days, it’s especially  important to stay hydrated).  Check the trail tips section of this blog for more heat tips.

Oh, and what about our poles’ exposure to poison oak?   Well, we have to wash them with soap and water or – my favorite –  rubbing alcohol.  But do be sure to use enough alcohol to CUT the oil, not just spread it around.  I thoroughly soak a paper towel, extend the pole sections and carefully go over them twice.

Do you like my photos? 🙂 How on earth do we see such wonders?

    • we use our poles for stability on uneven terrain
    • we maintain good neck function
    • we lift our feet – this is a function of hip flexion and dorsi-flexion – when you put your attention to your form, you’re more mindful and your form improves.  Thinking of lifting your legs (kind of like marching) on uneven terrain helps us to more fully enjoy our adventures  🙂

Click on any photo to enlarge.

Trail Tip: Better Bow Knot Improves your Footing & Performance on the Trail

May 10, 2012 by  
Filed under Trail Tips, Uncommon Sense

A hiking buddy taught me this tip and I’ve noticed a significant difference in how my hiking shoes perform on the trail.

This 2 minute video contains one of our very favorite trail tips.
The secret to learning to do this quickly and effortlessly  is to loop the lace around your thumb, leaving enough space to easily pull the other loop through.   Be sure and watch the whole thing, as there is an important caution.

Wrist Stretch for people who use Trekking Poles

I end most of my Yoga classes with this gentle and effective wrist stretch.    This  subtle movement lengthens and “tractions” the joint.  The radius and ulna bones in the healthy forearm articulate.   Creating  s p a c e  in the wrist joint and lengthening the space in the forearm enable better articulation and function.  Keep in mind:

  • Less is more.
  • Purposely work shorter/smaller than your brain wants to.
  • Forget about the Destination – Focus on the Journey.
  • Invest the time to feel the subtlety of this movement.
  • Allow this movement to bring mindfulness to your hand, wrist & forearm.
  • Learn it so that you can use it when you need it – a tool for your body tool box 🙂

A good friend and I filmed this one morning so we  could share it with AdventureBuddies!  After a long day at the computer or after a rigorous hike, try this and relieve tension/tightness/stress in the wrist joint.

Be loving and gentle with yourself 🙂   Try it and let me know what you think?


My ENT doctor strongly recommended something that has changed my life and significantly reduced my allergy response to CA 🙂   Nasal Saline Spray:

  • non-addictive, non-invasive, simple stuff
  • spray as many times a day as I like
  • I put a spray bottle everywhere – my car, my bedside table, my purse, my hiking pack
  • Spraying after a hike is HUGELY helpful (as well as during)
  • I’ve reduced my intake of OTC allergy medication to almost none, even in peak season
  • I’m happier!
  • I got the Walgreen’s generic brand in both sizes.

Very Important:  Spray outward towards your cheekbone, not straight up your nose.   Click for  More allergy tips on this blog.

Trail Tip: Blue Jeans on the Trail?

April 2, 2012 by  
Filed under Gear, Trail Tips

3 reasons why we think blue jeans are TERRIBLE for hiking:

  1. If the bottoms get even a little wet or damp, they wick up your legs.
  2. Wet jeans stay wet.  When compared to the lightweight hiking pants, there’s really a huge difference in drying time.  Even a light morning dew can create wet pants for hours.
  3. Most jeans are somewhat form-fitting.  This means that the leg has to work harder at the knee joint.  If you meet resistance with every step, it’s not efficient.

Falling is BAD: Ice & Snow Safety Balance Tip

March 4, 2012 by  
Filed under Gear, Trail Tips, Uncommon Sense

A dear friend with Multiple Sclerosis  (who lives in MN) shared a WONDERFUL tip yesterday.   She keeps a set of YakTrax on a pair of shoes (in her case – slip on boots for ease of application) in her car so that when she arrives at a client’s home, she can safely walk in and out.  This is brilliant!

From another friend:   Jayah, I finally got a chance to use those slip-on crampons yesterday at Sugarbowl.    They were great!  Walking in an icy and snowy  parking lot is usually the most dangerous part of a ski day. 

Click on image below to see which model of YakTrax we recommend.

Yaktrax Pro

I slipped in the parking lot on the way to cross country ski.  I landed on my hip on the hard pavement.   I’ve been a YakTrax fan ever since.  Note about sizing – Order a size larger than you think so you can more easily put them on your heavy walking shoes/boots.

Hiking with Trekking POLES in the desert

February 26, 2012 by  
Filed under Nature, Trail Tips, Travel

2 AdventureBuddies, 2 sets of poles.  Our annual Winter/Spring desert hiking trip this year found us in Sedona.   Our first stop was Phoenix to help some folks learn about using poles via the Muhammad Ali Parkinson’s Center.  Then onto Sedona to enjoy some hiking on terrain that’s very different from our local mountains.   Using poles in the desert is the most powerful and efficient way to navigate rocky, steep terrain.   We especially appreciate our long foam grips &  gloves as we explore this glorious terrain.

Click on any photo to enlarge (esp #1) and press back button to return to post.  See the hole behind me in photo #3?   Look at photo #9.

Above are views from Bear Mountain, Bob negotiating rocky trail and an overhang at Long Canyon.

If you follow this blog, you will know that I LOVE cairns.   I have a new hobby – cairn topping (or cairn enhancing) ha ha!   We explored 3 days – Bear Mountain, Doe Mountain/Fay Canyon & Long Canyon, following Cairns to stay on the trail.

  • Bob and me on Bear Mountain
  • Cairn on Bear Mountain – the townhouse of all cairns!
  • Bob and his trekking poles on the top of a rock cliff at Long Canyon
  • A pretty, colorful rock in a creek-bed in Long Canyon
  • A canyon wall in Long Canyon
  • Bob looking thru the hole of the overhang

At Long Canyon, we got to the “end” and climbed up on a rock for lunch.  Bob went to explore the easiest way down the cliff.  When he returned, I gleefully noticed it was starting to  SNOW.  I was so happy eating my sandwich watching the snowflakes.   Bob said “We’re LEAVING, NOW!”   He knew immediately that we did not want to be walking down on wet rocks.  Good and fast thinking, Bob!

Weather can manage our outdoor experiences.  We knew the forecast and, even with a slight possibility of rain or snow, we were well prepared with gear.  45 degrees and wet is a recipe for hypothermia.  We had full head-to-toe Gortex gear – NO bluejeans for hikers!  On again, off again, gear changes, but we were comfy, dry and safe.

Trail Tips for PoleHikers: Mountain Lions and Ticks

February 6, 2012 by  
Filed under Trail Tips

Here’s a great article on what to do if you are ?lucky enough? to sight a mountain lion.   Article is from the University of CA Police Dept.

We try to sprinkle all kinds of pole & trail tips into our seminars.  We ALWAYS miss something and recommend that you either subscribe (just click on the upper right corner) to this blog or periodically visit to see what’s new.  If you subscribe, you’ll get an email when we make a new post – it’s easy and not spam!

Also, we have a tick post for hikers (search ticks on this blog), but this is an article reminding us how important it is to be aware!

Winter FungusAmongus Hike and Trail Tips

December 4, 2011 by  
Filed under Nature, Trail Tips

Early Rains brought out some amazing FungusAmongus and the newts were crawling!

A wonderful (and well known) balance exercise is to turn your head and look around while walking.  This skill makes spotting gems on the trail easier, BUT make sure your leader is calling out obstacles and hazards in the trail.  Ultimately, we’re each responsible for ourselves, but it’s nice to have good trail communication.    When I call “LOW Branch” or “Banana Slug in the trail,”  I like to hear my sweep acknowledge the hazard.  That way I know that everyone heard it.


Mt. Tam was so amazing I went back again this week.  What a change from Wed to Sat.  But big winds changed EVERYTHING.  Fungus were dessicated.  Trails were like Green & Yellow Brick Roads with the yellow fir needles and broken branches covering everything.  This is why we don’t hike when there’s high winds.  Wow!


As always, click on any photo to enlarge.  The lake scene above is as close as I could get to a trio of hooded mergansers – my favorite winter visitors!

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