Off the Beaten Path
I’ve recently started a new hobby–which doesn’t take too much time, it’s social, and it gets me outdoors. Hiking. It’s been something I’ve wanted to get into more, but my recent lack of athleticism has usually discouraged me.
It began in Vegas where we (climbed boulders..aka) hiked in the Mojave Desert. There was a certain rush of adrenaline that began there, as well as it brought out a new sort of passion. I’ve always enjoyed being outside. Unfortunately, the amount of pain I was in after this adventure, paused a lot of activity for a few days. It also turned into winter when I returned to Wisconsin (and winter is definitely not my favorite season, and I despise being outside at this time). As well as when I was in Europe, I wanted everything to hike the Alps, however, I felt like that was something I did not want to do by myself. I suppose I did not have too much motivation to do so, nor did I have too much time to divert my trip. (Mark my words, I will be doing that next time I’m near them–I have to do my Sound of Music song and twirl!) Honestly, even now, I’m finding some sort of excuse for why I did not do it, or continue doing it.
This newly found passion reignited while planning my trip to Hawaii. It’s Hawaii–Paradise–with soooo many beautiful hikes and adventures waiting at the top of some peak! I was also going with someone who was totally in to fitness and she wanted to hike! It made it even better when we met up with some people (an old friend from high school that I haven’t seen since 2007, and a couple of her friends that now lived in Hawaii) who were all about the outdoors and hiking! Unfortunately do to timing, we only did two hikes: the Pillbox and Manoa Falls.
Granted, I’m not in great shape (who am I kidding, I’m in terrible shape), but I’m getting there. Regardless, I was not going to let that stop me. I was going to go at my own pace. I didn’t care if I was the caboose and further back than the rest. I was doing it, and I was going to finish! (I actually did pretty well, I wasn’t too far back, one of the other gals was more on my pace, and her friend stayed to rest with us when we needed to, the other two went ahead.) It was peaceful, it was beautiful, and I have never felt so free! Hawaii has so many hikes, for so many different levels of fitness…so don’t fret! There’s something for everyone!
Now coming back to Wisconsin, my friend from high school and I have been meeting up every weekend to go hiking. Granted, these aren’t as complicated as the one in Vegas, and they don’t take us to hidden features such as a waterfall or a killer view, but we can only do what we have! This weekend will be our 3rd Hike in Wisconsin, and our 4th week hiking! It’s been incredible! We just sacrifice our Saturday (or Sunday) sleeping in time to do something healthy and good for ourselves. And, we’re actually enjoying it.
It has definitely been a way to decompress after the work week, and it’s getting us on our feet for a long extended period of time (~4.3 miles takes us about 2 hours). Also, it’s something different than going to the gym. Especially the scenery.
The first one we did in Wisconsin was Scuppernong. It had several different routes we could take, depending on how many miles we wanted to do. We stuck with the ~4 miles in length, because we’re still beginning at it.
This one was a bit rocky, a bit sandy, hilly, and wooded. There were benches every once in a while down the paths if you needed to rest, or reapply bug spray. I really liked this one because it had a map showing you where you were on the map and how many miles you’ve done.
The one Julie and I did last week was much simpler and slightly longer. We went to Bong Recreational Area, which also had quite a few different trails you could day.. There was a bridge at the beginning, there were flower gardens, ponds and lakes, and wooded areas. It was also wet and slightly muddy. It was humid, and it rained earlier, so we couldn’t really expect it not to be. This did not have any maps telling you where you were, how many miles you’ve done, or anything (which I didn’t really like). It did have benches that had little signs on them with an emergency number and a bench number in case you needed help or were lost. I took a picture of it, because you never know what was going to happen.
We saw a couple of turtles, squirrels, bunnies, and there were bugs galore. To the point where both of us may have had an anxiety attack due to the constant buzzing by our ears–we were heavily protected by bug spray and may have gotten maybe 2 bug bites each. We did reapply (quite heavily) a few times because the buzzing was way too much, which also sped up our hiking.
We knew we were at the end of the trail. We tracked our steps and our miles, but we missed the exit to go back to the parking lot. “We’ve already been here,” I said. It took us maybe 10-15 minutes trying to figure out how to get out. At one point we thought of crossing through these crazy gardens–which I was not going to be happy about, but I needed to get away from the buzzing, so I would have done it. We doubled back and found the exit–which was really not marked to show that it was the way back to the parking lot.
We’re in the process of our next hiking adventure. This one may be slightly longer than the others. We’re looking at 4-6 miles this time. I couldn’t be any more excited!!
My [Novice] Hiking Must Haves
- Comfortable Shoes (I use regular tennis shoes–Rebooks, but am looking into hiking boots)
- Bug Spray (You’ll drive yourself mad if you don’t have it.)
- Sun Screen, Chapstick (with SPF), and Sun Glasses (protect yo self!)
- Plenty of water!!! (It’s summer, you’re outside, and you’re exercising–you don’t need to die today!)
- A backpack of some sort (tie string bag, a hiking pack, hydration pack–I use a Tortuga Day Bag, but will be getting an Osprey Manta AG20 Hydration Pack-2.5 L in the next week)
- Comfortable environmentally appropriate clothing (I wear a tank top, yoga capris, and have a light sweatshirt in my pack, just in case.)
- Hand sanitizer, kleenix, ibuprofen, and a small first aid kit (bathroom purposes if there’s a port-o-potty; bandaids, gauze pads, neosporin–you may fall, or get blisters.)
Now let’s talk about some of the awesome benefits (some per WebMD)
- Lower your risk of heart disease
- Improve your blood pressure and blood sugar levels
- Boost bone density (walking is a weight-bearing exercise)
- Build strength in your glutes, quads, hamstrings, and the muscles in your hips and lower legs
- Strengthen your core
- Improve balance
- Help control your weight
- Boost your mood
- Reduces stress and anxiety
- Releases endorphins
- Helps us think creatively
- Boots brainpower
- Boosts self esteem
And other great aspects
- Disconnecting with technology (the occasional picture never hurts!)
- Social Activity (going with friends, saying hello to others around the trails, being able to talk about your new adventures–which may find you a new friend to hike with!)
Go find the nearest trail, you won’t regret it!!!