Are you a person whose spirit for adventure can’t be contained? Do you want to test your own mettle? If yes, try going on a hiking vacation. Hiking involves taking a long, vigorous walk into wondrous landscapes, communing with nature and in the process, finding some inner peace.
It can be physically demanding but the perks are totally worth it. There’s nothing like the feeling of being one with the elements, discovering nature’s bounty as well as your own self. The feeling of accomplishment when you’ve finished a hike makes the entire journey to the top worth it… even if you huffed and puffed along the way.
Silver Hikers: It’s a Movement
If you think that you’ll be the only “old guy” to go on a hike, you’re dead wrong. Take one hike and you’ll be seeing men and women over 50 tearing up the trail, climbing over rocks and gullies like they’re in their 20s or 30s. You might be surprised to know that silver hiking is a movement that’s gaining popularity. You may even be the youngest in a silver hiking group!
There’s no way of knowing for sure how it became a phenomenon, but we can surmise that it could be a result of a number of studies like one by the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) showing the benefits of hiking for older adults. Even the World Health Organization recognizes hiking as a recommended physical activity as you get older. Hikers tend to have improved mental faculties, cardiovascular systems and stronger bones. Is it the fountain of youth? Maybe…
These health benefits are great, but there are folks who are hiking trails for more than just that.
Hikers like the 70+ George “Billy Goat” Woodard, 81-year old Lee “Easy One” Barry and the 60+ Warren Doyle are legendary for taking on hiking trails like Pacific Crest and Appalachian. For these folks, hiking isn’t a hobby; it’s their life.
They enjoy glory and recognition from fellow hikers. They’re making a statement–don’t let age define you! Their legends will be told even after they’re gone.
So just like any physical activity, you need to start slow. Nobody without training or at least a warmup tries to run a record breaking 100 meter dash, unless you’re being chased by a wild animal or an angry wife. Hiking isn’t just walking. It requires preparation. As much as we want you to conquer the outdoors, we also want you to be healthy and safe. To borrow Vince Lombardi’s words, we don’t want you to become a coward out of fatigue.
Go through physical preparation for the hike by doing exercises that utilize a full range of motion. In fact, visit a good gym and ask them about special training for hikers. Pack light, otherwise your back pack might turn into a liability. Take a lot of water with you as you are supposed to drink half your body weight (in terms of fluid ounces) on the trail. Take some anti-inflammatory NSAIDs with you in case you need pain management after all that hiking. Wear insoles to prevent sore feet or blisters that can make the hike a pain. Pack a first aid kit for cuts, a good sunscreen of 40 SPF or above, and a good hat!
This might seem a lot but trust us; it will be a deeply satisfying experience. You’ll engage in physical activity, get fresh air, get moments of calming solitude and meet other hikers on the trail. You’ll probably lose weight and have more energy. And it’s usually free! What a deal!