Some would have you believe that walking from point A to point B simply involves placing one foot in front of the other and repeating the pattern. I don’t take that ability for granted, but when it comes to hiking any place more rugged than a shopping mall there is a little technique involved if you want to keep your ankles and knees from going mutant on you. The first consideration is the footwear, and it’s a relationship of trust and camaraderie that you build up with your boots before you hit the trails. Mom always warned you to wait a while after lunch before swimming and to break your boots in before you go on a long hike. I’ve talked about boots here before, so I won’t get into that, but take it as a reminder to prepare some smelly, dusty boots so that they’ll have supple leather and limber footing for you. On a side note, don’t wear court shoes (like basketball or tennis) on a long hike. I wore my flat-soled and non-cushioned tennis shoes on a Boy Scout 50/20 hike (50 miles in 20 hours) from here to some other time zone and back. Well, not the “and back” part because my feet got so sore by halfway that I couldn’t walk anymore. The lack of padding and arch support left my little foot muscles so fatigued that I could barely manage a few excruciating steps at a time.
The hard thing about hiking on the mountain trails is the steep ups and downs you can’t avoid when you’re around mountains. On the way up you need to utilize your buns of steel and your thighs to pull you up, and taking a longer stride will take advantage of those more powerful muscles. You’ll get into a good pace of stepping out and breathing deeply, taking you to the top in no time. Taking shorter steps draws on your lower legs, which really aren’t up to all that work and they’ll wear you out much quicker. Headed back downhill is another matter. For a big hike up the mountain you find that you’re already exhausted from the climb, so coming back down is very tiring. If you weigh about 50 pounds you can just tumble down the hill and your knees won’t be any worse for wear. Good, that hiking demographic is taken care of. Oh, well the rest of us have to be a little more careful where we step on the way down because the leg muscles and the joints really take a beating. It’s important to absorb the shock well, so considering descending in a way that rolls off some of the impact. One idea is to scramble down shift around like you’re skiing downhill rather than stomping down each step like you’re a post hole digger. The secret weapon here is to have a walking stick of some kind (or a manufactured, scientifically engineered, space-age suspension imbued, conspicuously expensive piece of alien technology) and to give yourself a little brace and balance with the tricky steps. Save it for the tough-looking parts though so it doesn’t look like you’re cross-country moon walking.exercise hiking boots nepal travel trekking Trekking in Nepal