A few weeks ago, I decided to try my hand (or rather my feet) at hiking… what could possibly go wrong, I thought?
Feeling brave, I signed up for the UnLtd Whitelion Three Peaks Challenge. For those of you not familiar with this expedition, it’s a hike across three peaks, covering 50kms in 33 hours, with the aim of raising money for Whitelion – a great charity that helps disadvantaged young people. I saw this as an opportunity to get fit and do some good in the world, ticking off two of my goals for the year! However, going from urban city slicker to mountain hiker was a little bit harder than I originally thought.
Here are the 7 things this rookie hiker learned:
You have to train.
So apparently, training means long walks with elevation and rugged terrain to increase your cardio fitness but also your mental alertness for what to expect on the mountain. There’s no beautifully paved yellow brick road, but rather, long wet grass, stones and boulders and learning how to navigate your footing on uneven paths. I missed this brief, and merely presumed training referred to limiting my alcohol intake prior to the event. Needless to say (post event) I was a former shadow of myself. I could have avoided old woman hips had I done the proper training.
All the gear but no idea.
When you are issued a list of mandatory gear – such as waterproof pants, thermals and ski gloves, go and buy it! Get over the fact that your Kathmandu jacket is about as ugly as your Mum’s brown cardigan and won’t exactly match your Lululemon exercise pants. It’s not a fashion show people. When you get wet and cold you get miserable. Also, gold loop earrings will catch on your beanie.
The power of conversation.
Walking for 9 hours each day can get pretty boring, and your thoughts slightly erratic (if my head is anything to go by!). To ward off the monotony, it helps to talk to your fellow hikers, make small talk, make big talk (I even made a friend or two). It will also distract you from all thoughts of pain, discomfort, and wishing you were somewhere else.
Desperate times calls for sugar.
This is a story about how a packet of Nerds stopped me from giving up. It’s not natural to walk 30kms in a day up an incline for 3 hours. Now’s not the time to worry about keeping to your ‘I Quit Sugar’ diet. When you’re in the midst of tough physical activity, treat yo’self, sugar is your friend and can make you feel 20 again.
Funnily enough, there aren’t many toilets on the mountain and there’s no shame in needing to do a number 1 mid epic trek. It’s going to happen so just be prepared for this. What you need to do is put your backpack on the path, find a big boulder and hope that your fellow hikers don’t see you.
You’re on a once in a lifetime adventure, no two hikes are the same and the mountain surroundings are more majestic than the hipsters of the hills so look up, slap yourself into reality and enjoy that awesome boulder you see before you.
Celebrate the moment.
It’s back-patting time, whether you are gloating in that intoxicating feeling of personal triumph upon crossing the finish line at the top of the mountain or that you’ve got goosies about your awesome event fundraising skills or just simply happy to go home – take a moment to celebrate the victory. Good on you!
To find out more about the Whitelion Three Peaks Challenge head here.
For this and other UnLtd initiatives head here.