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Photo by Celia Mitchell (2015/16 Semester Photo Contest Entry), Indonesia Semester.

A GUIDE TO FORCING YOUR BODY, AGAINST THE WILL OF GRAVITY, UP A MOUNTAIN.

Baima Wilderness Area, Yunnan China

According to Merriam Webster a hike means to walk a long distance especially for pleasure or exercise. Personally I’ve always had a bad association with hiking.  I always wondered where the fascination came from. Hiking was a source of anxiety for me, almost unconsciously. I would brush off the idea that it made me nervous, convincing myself that hiking just wasn’t my forte. However, In past three days my perspective has changed, due to some crucial tips and tricks I learned from myself and others. So here they are, things to remember. Brought to you by someone who previously had a less than favorable relationship with hiking and now has reach a level of appreciation.

1. Listen to your body. Stay hydrated and keep your blood sugar up. Take a break when you need one. Walk as slowly as it takes, you will get there when you get there. It really does make a difference in capability and mood.

2. Wear the correct footwear. Even if you are sure you can climb up the mountain in your sandals, I promise a hiking shoe will be much more rewarding.

3. Bribe yourself. If you are feeling particularly apprehensive it’s sometimes a good idea to trick yourself into moving forward. Perhaps set a clear goal or point at the trail where you will stop take off your pack and enjoy your treat. I found that stockpiling snickers was a great way to motivate.

4. Keep moving. Newton knew a thing or two when he talked about inertia. An object a rest stays at rest and an object I motion stays in motion. The more you take unnecessary breaks they more you will want to take unnecessary breaks. Even if you feel like your legs are screaming, just put one foot in front of the other.

5. Come up with a mantra. Mantra’s are a great way to get out of your head and focus on a goal. Chose whatever feels important to you, since you will probably say it hundreds of times. For example you could pick something like “I love endorphins. I am strong”. Time flies when your focused on a mantra.

6. Look up. Especially important for those of us who are inherently clumsy. Although it seems like a good idea to keep you eyes on your feet, it typically makes you more likely to fumble. Use your peripheral vision, enjoy to view, and notice nature.

7. It’s all in your head. For a very long time I thought of hiking as a test of physical strength. Although physical ability undoubtably plays a role, I’ve learned that the hard part comes in to play with the mind.

Personally my mind was the defining factor, I was never excited about hiking because I didn’t have faith in myself. I never felt accomplished thinking big deal, everyone else had made it up the mountain too. I viewed myself as a weak hiker, when in actuality there’s no such thing. We all arrive at the same destination in our own time, in our own way. Have faith in yourself, you can do it. Avoid negative thoughts and frustrations making you want to give up. Push yourself. Give yourself credit where credit is due. And most importantly stay optimistic. I have found that the most challenging part of hiking, and ultimately the reason I had never previously enjoyed it, was due to the road blocks in my mind. But, oh man does it feel amazing when you have reached the top, that sense of accomplishment is unparalleled.
Good luck fellow hikers!