Hiking is a gateway activity. You start with a hike along Umstead’s Sycamore Creek after a rain, maybe hike the Little Mountain Falls Trail at Virginia’s Fairy Stone State Park on a cloudless winter day. Before you know it, the notion of spending a day or more on the trail has a keen appeal. You’re hooked by the lure of outdoor escapes.
Now isn’t the time that our thoughts turn toward living healthier. That won’t happen for — when’s New Year’s Day? — another month and a half.
We’re here today to suggest, on the cusp of the eating season, that now’s exactly the time to start living healthier. And that typically means two things:
My head was a little stuffy, there was a tickle in my throat, and there was a hint of wheeze in my chest. Otherwise, I felt good. And it was a perfect day to hike. What the heck, I thought, I’ll be fine.
It’s a situation we face from time to time: the spirit is eager, the body … meh. What’s an active body to do?
The lower temperatures and splendiferous colors of fall will entice many of us to take longer ventures into the woods in the coming days. This is a wonderful thing, but we want to remind you of a few things that will make your hike more enjoyable.
Eat. Do not look at a 10-mile hike as a crash diet, or crash you will. Just last week, one of our hikers suddenly went weak. Turns out that, in addition to a few other conspiring factors, she’d eaten only a fig bar for breakfast and had only a 16-ounce water bottle for a 5-mile hike in 85-degree heat. Calories are key to getting you down (and up) the trail. And we’re not talking HoHos and Ding Dongs, but the nutrient-rich calories found in whole grains, fruits, and nuts. Have a good breakfast, then pack up a lunch and healthy snacks.
Hydrate. In lower temperatures, when we might not sweat as much, we might think we don’t need as much hydration. Not true! Not drinking water is the fastest, surest way to stall your engine, even on a cool fall day. Some more modest hikers might be averse to drinking water because they don’t want to pee in the woods. But, you should embrace the idea that you’ll be ducking behind a tree once or twice a hike. It’s biology, people.
Labor Day weekend marks the end of wearing white shoes and seersucker suits. And it also marks the end of several summertime frivolities.
Of course, officially, summer doesn’t end until Sept. 22 (at 4:02 p.m. for you sticklers). Psychologically, though, this weekend is it.