By Christina Scannapiego
Incorporating your average hike into your daily or weekly routine is great. It’s a way to get some exercise and appreciate the outdoors. But there are a few ways that you can take those ordinary hikes and make them extraordinary … and more memorable.
1. Make Your Smart Phone Camera Worthy
Documenting and sharing your journey is the best way to remember it—but carrying your super expensive, high-tech camera can be risky as well as a burden to carry. Instead, hone your iPhone photography skills and invest in a waterproof, sport and easy-to-use case for your smart phone.
2. Go It Alone
OK, we are by no means trying to urge you into a dangerous situation. And if you aren’t very confident in your hiking and navigation skills, then completely ignore this advice and go with a group.
However, if you’re hiking in very familiar territory or if you’re a seasoned, skilled adventurer, then opt for the solo mission. The benefits are that you can go at your own pace, stop when you want, go where you want, take photos when you want and enjoy some contemplative solace—just you and nature.
3. …Or Go With a Motivating Group
It’s always great to take to the woods with your best friend…especially if you’re both on the same page in terms of fitness and the challenge you want to get out of your hike. But sometimes it’s better to go with a small group of people who are not only physically compatible with you, but who also might provide you with a good healthy challenge. Going with other hikers who are going to push you to go harder, faster, steeper and longer (within your limits, of course) will benefit you for your next outing.
4. Make It a Yoga Hike
You can either find an organized yoga hike near you (many outdoors fitness clubs and meet-up groups organize these). By incorporating your explorations of the natural world with your yoga practice, you’re uniting your mind and body with the world around you for a different type of experience that you may find even more fulfilling than your regular yoga practice or your regular hike. But aside from all the spiritual mumbo jumbo, you’re also adding stretching, strengthening and working out all the built up kinks and tension into your hike.
You can use a yoga mat bag or sling—or you can opt for no mat at all and find flat surfaces where your hand and feet won’t slip to stop and do your poses.
There’s no reason not to turn a hike into part trail run. Throw on your running gear and whatever you’d wear on your feet, pack light and then hike some, run some. Pick a steeper and tougher route than you’d normally use for just a run. You’ll be working on your endurance, your footing, finesse and your fitness level simultaneously.
6. Find a Difficult Route and Use a Hiking Stick
If you’re going on a difficult hike, bring a hiking stick (or better yet, two trekking poles) along with you. You’ll be able to go on a much longer hike than you would normally, without one, you’ll climb steep sections with more ease and it’ll be easier on your knees going downhill.
7. Take Your Dog
…or if you don’t have one, take your friend’s dog. You really start to understand why the canine has become “human’s best friend” when you take one on a trek with you. They love the sense of adventure and they stick with you the entire way…you become a pack. It’s a great bonding experience and, at times, highly entertaining. Just make sure to take proper precautions and preparations for Fido. We take care of them and they take care of us.
Christina Scannapiego is the Outdoors editor for Active.com. She loves yoga and is fanatical about getting her endorphins pumping outside.