When it is so sunny and beautiful outside, I feel there is no better way to soak it all in other than go hiking. Going to the beach may be others’ first choice, but I find that climbing up high and enjoying the view from up above is a lot more rewarding for me.
In addition to some spectacular views, I find that hiking often provides a decent cardio challenge (so much better than going to the gym and getting on the stairmaster!).
I was first introduced to hiking by some friends. We started off doing short hikes that ranged between 2 – 4 hours. Lately, I’ve discovered a Meetup group and have been consistently doing hikes that take up to 8 hours.
Hiking for 8 hours may seem daunting to some, but it really is all about preparation. It is about building up your endurance bit by bit so you can handle longer hours of walking and building up more lower body strength so you can climb up and down without your legs going jelly half way through the hike.
Getting enough to eat and drink is also another key determinant to a successful hike. For a shorter hike, you may easily get away with little refuelling and can even push through with willpower even if you get a little dehydrated (from sweating too much and not drinking enough), but for longer hikes, you definitely need to bring enough food and fluids to keep your body going.
For me personally, I find that about I need about 100mL per 1km of hiking, so for a 23km hike (Elfin Lakes @ Squamish which I did yesterday), I would take about 2.5L. By all means, if you can have space in your backpack, it is always better to bring more than having the constant fear that you may run out of water! Dehydration impedes your body from performing at its best.
Food is just as important. Having a balanced breakfast 1-2 hours before a hike gives you the much needed energy. I usually start my day with some fruit, some protein (ex. milk, cheese, nuts) and some carbs (ex. banana, sweet potato, leftover rice, toast). On top of that, I usually enjoy a cup of coffee to give me a nice dose of caffeine (research shows that caffeine before exercise helps your body to better utilize fuel and shift into fat-burning mode more easily).
Don’t forget to pack enough food for the trip! Packing smart choices for refuelling the hike can be a challenge sometimes. The best strategy is to pack a combo of carbs and protein. The carbs will give you the energy to keep going and the protein will help slow down the whole digestion process to help the fuel get into your body at a steady rate, and keep you fuller longer. My favourite choice is a peanut butter & banana sandwich – the bread gives me the carbs, the PB provides the protein and the banana just adds more flavour to make the sandwich extra delicious! In addition, I always carry extra granola bars and some mixed nuts & dried fruits (ex. medjool dates) just in case I get hungry along the way or when I need something a little extra.
After packing in the water and the food, don’t forget to also pack extra clothing. Mountain condition can be unpredictable and it is always important to stay warm!
Hiking is an activity that anyone can try, and trust me, the view from high up is not to be missed!
If hiking is something new to you, pick a short and easy hike to start off. Do the research, be prepared with lots of smart food choices and enough water and read up on others’ suggestions and recommendations before heading out, and don’t forget to have a good time!
Do you hike? What’s your favourite snack on-the-go?