By: Mecca R. Dennehy
The forest is alive and the sun is out, which means it’s peak summer hiking season. All those alpine lakes and sunset views are waiting for you at the end of a beautiful trail through the trees. Wanting to set your personal record for the longest hike you’ve ever embarked on? Or maybe you want to try summiting a mountain you’ve had your eye on for the past year? We’ve got some great tips and tricks for how to capture that energy (and keep it up!) on a hike.
Prep Your Body
If you have a day set aside for your long hike, make sure to prep beforehand. Make sure you mentally and physically prepare yourself. Ideally, start prepping a week before your hike. When you set out on the trail you’ll feel ready to go. Eating the right foods, getting enough sleep, and training will set you up for success.
Eat the Right Foods
Eating the right foods is key to feeling energized for your hike. That means protein-rich meals, fruits, veggies, and even carbs from rice or pasta. Make sure you’re getting enough calories throughout the week, so your body doesn’t feel depleted during your hike. Now you also have a good excuse to eat a little extra mac and cheese!
Drink Water Regularly
One of the easiest and most effective ways for maintaining energy is to start the hike hydrated! Make sure you’re drinking enough water throughout the week leading up to your hike, so you don’t experience any cramping, headaches, or the more serious effects of dehydration during your hike.
Get A Good Night’s Sleep
Sleep is a key factor in having energy for your hike. Make sure you’re getting to bed at a decent time and sleeping soundly. If you’re having trouble falling asleep or staying asleep, here are some tips:
● Try the Sleep Stories App! You can play soothing sounds, white noise, or calming sleep stories.
● Don’t drink anything two hours before bed. You’ll be able to avoid those midnight bathroom breaks.
● No screens two hours before bed! The blue light emitted from electronics tricks your brain into thinking it’s daytime, so shutting off any screens will help your internal clock know it’s almost time to sleep. Even shutting off bright overhead lights near bedtime can help.
● Get comfortable! Sleeping in a slightly cooler room and having breathable bedding will keep your body cool and comfortable while you sleep. A great pillow is also a must!
If you’re wanting to tackle a ten-mile hike, but the farthest you’ve ever gone is only three miles, then training beforehand will help you keep your energy up once you hit mile nine. Gradually work your way up in miles and take note of elevation changes on your route so you can get comfortable with longer distances and thinner air. Make sure to stretch after every training hike so your muscles can recover!
It’s Hike Time!
Your body is prepped, you’ve gotten a great night’s sleep, and you’re rearing to go! Here are a few tips for the day of your hike to keep you energized on the trail!
Pack the Right Snacks
Just as important as eating the right foods leading up to the hike, packing the right snacks is paramount to keeping your energy mile to mile. But you don’t want your backpack weighing you down! Packing lightweight, filling snacks is key. Our favorites are dried fruit, jerky, trail mix, nut butter packets, bananas, and tuna with crackers. While power bars are easy to pack, they are usually high in sugar, which will only lead to a sugar crash. Try to stick with whole foods that will keep your blood sugar steady and give you long-lasting energy.
Hydrate, Hydrate, Hydrate
Of course, drinking water throughout your hike is key to staying energized. Pack a water purification tool like a LifeStraw or a Sawyer Mini Water Filter so you can easily fill up on clean, safe water. The best part: and you don’t have to lug around a giant large, heavy, water bottle! We also love packing hydration tabs or electrolyte packets to replenish your body as you sweat on your hike!
Take Breaks and Pace Yourself
Don’t feel like you need to muscle through your hike! Make sure to take breaks, do some deep breathing, stretching, and have a snack. Pacing yourself will help you recharge for the rest of the journey. If possible, sit down in the shade and get off your feet.
The whole reason you decided to go on this hike is to experience the beauty around you! Sniff a flower, take your time, and realize it’s not a race. If you feel like you’re struggling or rushing, you will only stress your body out and make the hike harder. Give yourself permission to slow down and enjoy. The trail isn’t going anywhere!
Whether it’s tackling a mountain, setting a personal best, or finding solace in the trees, we hope these tips help you plan for your next big summer adventure.
About the Author:
Mecca R. Dennehy
Mecca is an adventure writer and photographer based in Oregon and loves everything the rainy PNW has to offer. You can find her hiking to alpine lakes or camping with her husband and her two rescue pups, Finn and Ruby. She is also an adventure wedding and elopement photographer and loves to capture couples as they start the most epic adventure of all together.