Alright all you aspiring OneSeedlings, it’s high time for some tough love. Now we’re not trying to scare you off, but the fact is that one of our most consistent topics for post-trip feedback is the physical demands of our expeditions. We plan our trips carefully to make sure that they are accessible to as many people as possible, but if you’ve called one of our expeditions a walk in the park, chances are you were talking about Rocky Mountain National. The fact is, you’ll be hiking at moderate to high altitudes where you get less oxygen with every breath. You’ll be tackling some respectable inclines, winding stairways, and dare I say it, even a false summit or two.
But fear not! Once again we here at OneSeed have your back with a few suggestions to help get you ready to take on that big hike!
Altitude and You, Mountain Readiness for the Working Person
Now I wouldn’t call myself a mountaineering expert, but my family does have a saying, “It’s not a vacation without a death march.” Yes, it’s a bit melodramatic, but the first day or so of hiking is always an adjustment period. Everyone who’s been on a big hiking trip has has thought to themselves “Just how did I talk myself into this one?”
With that in mind, the best first step for preparing is to find the small things you can do daily to get your legs (and lungs!) ready for the trail.
- Traditional exercise routines like running and swimming are great ways to prepare. Anything that gets your heart pumping is going to contribute, and there are plenty of resources devoted to helping beginners get into a routine.
- If you live in a hilly/mountainous part of the country then you’re at a big advantage, find a park and pound some ground. Walking a few miles of trail or even just inclined roads and sidewalks a couple of times a week is a great way to get used to the unique feel of hiking up inclines.
- If you live in the flatlands you’ll need to find another way to build up your leg strength, one of the best ways to accomplish that is biking. If you can safely get to your workplace with a bicycle, consider making the ride a few days a week. It can seem like a daunting task, but with a little planning it’s more convenient than you’d think. If not, try going for at least a 30 minute spin as often as you can spare the time, your quads will thank you.
- For my fellow city-dwellers, consider joining a fitness club to help you get started. What cities lack in space they make up for in communities. Fitocracy is a great site for these kinds of groups across the country. If you’re not into the whole fitness scene look for sports clubs at local parks, gyms, field houses and YMCAs.
- Protip: Establish a schedule! Planning out an exercise routine from now until your departure date will give you definite goals, increase self accountability, and will reduce the chances of straining yourself and causing an injury right before you leave. Oh and remember to stretch!
Equipment Check! Happy Feet Make Happy Souls.
Just as big as the physical preparation is the mental prep. Travelling is an incredible, mind-opening (often mind-blowing) experience and part of that experience is being out of your comfort zone. While being out of your comfort zone is a good thing, simply being uncomfortable is not. To make sure that your first delightful run-in with daal bhat isn’t overshadowed by something like a big nasty blister, you need test out all that shiny new gear.
- Step 1: Smelly boots are good boots. Simply put, the first time your boots meet your feet should not be at the trailhead for Everest Base Camp. You’ll need a sturdy pair of boots for your expedition and if all you have are tennis shoes or a worn out old pair go ahead and get some new footwear, just make sure you break them in well. The more familiar you are with your boots, the better off you and your feet will be.
- Step 2: Holy cow that’s heavy! It’s easy to fall in love with a nice pack when you try it on at the store, but the best way to end that honeymoon is by filling it full of what will soon feel like bricks and marching straight up into the clouds without properly adjusting your pack. Make sure you go a full weight pack test and have an experienced friend or outdoor store employee help you adjust the pack so you are carrying the weight properly. Once you’ve broken your boots in a bit throw the pack into the equation as well, there’s no better way to get the feel than simply testing it out. While those of you going to Nepal will only be carrying day-packs the same rules apply despite the lower stakes.
- Step 3: So hot… So cold! Besides robbing you of oxygen and putting a nice deep burn into your legs, hiking uphill can also move you through really different temperature and weather conditions. “Make sure you bring layers” is classic (and very good) advice, but like any other equipment you need to know how you will react to the clothing that you bring. Sure that Under Armour and those hiking pants are top of the line, but what if you throw it them only to find that they chafe after just a few miles? Trust me, it’s better to find that out in your own neck of the woods.