The end of April marked the end of my 52 hike challenge and I have spent the last few weeks reflecting on the year that was. I honestly didn’t think that I would be able to reach my target. I often set goals but don’t follow through. This time though, I was determined. Mainly because I announced it on social media (facepalm). I’m glad I stuck with it as I had some amazing adventures, saw parts of New Zealand I wouldn’t have seen otherwise and had some pretty random conversations with my hiking buddies.
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Hiking (and life) Lessons Learned
- Solo hiking is empowering. You can make plans to suit just you, you can hike at your pace and there is a sense of achievement you can only get from solo hiking
- Trekking poles are the bees knees. Seriously. And they help save your own knees.
- The correct gear is important. The good ole Kiwi Number Eight Wire approach is sometimes handy, but hiking is one time where you want to invest in the proper gear
- Nature is the best place to soothe a wounded soul. You can cry, scream, pound the dirt and just breathe with no one to interrupt you (except the birds)
- Flexibility is sometimes a must. Your plans will not always go the way you want them to, you may have to change course or even turn back. Be prepared to be a little flexible.
- Patience, as the saying goes, is a virtue.
- Trust your gut. It usually knows the deal.
- A first aid kit will be your best friend. Those scratches, blisters, headaches, sore knees and sunburn all need looking after
- Independence is freeing
- To be more confident. I can do it! Even if the hill looks really freaking steep and the end is really freaking far away.
- Sometimes it doesn’t work out the way you want and that’s ok. Best laid plans and all that…
- Hikers are a friendly bunch. Think hut discos with random strangers, storytelling around the fire, shared flasks of wine and lots of laughs
- If you put your mind to something, you can achieve it
- A deadline is a good motivator. My motto seems to be, if wasn’t for the last minute, nothing would get done. That was totally true in this challenge! I packed in several weeks of hikes in the last week before my deadline (facepalm).
- Breakfast is indeed, the most important meal of the day. Not one likes a hungry hiker
- How to light a fire like a boss. Ohhh yeeeah!
- How much I really dislike Noodles. Like, I never want to eat another 2-minute noodle again. Ever.
- Don’t look too far ahead when heading uphill (it will break your heart), rather head down and plough on up. It’s closer than it looks. Promise
- Nature is resilient. We can learn a lot from observing it
- Slippers left in cars, waiting for weary feet after a long hike are a girls best friend
- Don’t buy cheap leggings (unless you want everyone to know what colour underwear you are wearing)
- Mindset is important. If you think you can do it, you probably can (fistpump)
- The best conversations are had hiking along a dirt path
- Hiking provides the best platform distraction free solitude. Especially if there is no service on your phone.
- A warm fire makes the days weariness melt away
- Sometimes you just have to laugh or else you will cry
- River crossings in the heat of the summer are absolute bliss
- If (when) you get lost, don’t panic, keep a clear head and have a look around for landmarks
- A cold can of coke (or beer)(mostly beer) is the best reward after a long hike
- The view from the top of the mountain is my favourite view
- Start early. This means you have loads of time to dawdle along the way looking at the views, stopping for lunch or ever three minutes up the incline without having to rush
- There is no such thing as bad weather, just bad clothing
- The most important piece of kit is your boots. Happy feet = happy hiker
- Make sure your camera battery is charged before heading out
- Always have a Plan B (and C), just in case
- Cups of tea taste best from the top of the mountain
- The best songs are found in the trees
- Kids are amazing and hardy, they deserve more credit. They can carry a good sized pack and go further than you think.
- My knees will never be the same again
- Map reading is tremendously fun (and useful)
- Keeping a packing list handy is a good idea. Even though I usually still forget something.
- Hiking is a great bonding activity. I’ve had many hikes with friends and family that have strengthened relationships (shout out to you, Ma!)
- If you want to get out of a funk or a bad mood, head into the bush.
- Hiking is as much mental effort as physical effort
- Looking after your hiking boots, while is a pain at the end of a hike, is a bloody good idea in the long run
- Trust your feet, they know where they are going. If you keep looking down, you are more likely to trip.
- Pack light, your back will thank you for it after a few days!
- While snow looks pretty, it’s a bitch to hike through. Trust me on this.
- The ten essentials are pretty, well, essential. Especially if you get lost or injured
- It really really annoys me when I come across others who don’t follow the leave no trace principles
- If you are doing a loop track or a track where you are just heading one way, periodically look behind you. You may miss some pretty choice views
- Always allow extra time to complete a hike. It may take longer than you thought, you may stop and look at the views for longer than anticipated or other factors may prolong your hike
This challenge was as much mental as it was physical. I often hiked alone so only had myself to motivate up those steep hills and if I couldn’t be arsed heading out, it was up to me to give myself a kick up the bum. Self-pep talks become something I grew skilled in! However, I made it out the other side with only minor injuries. I’d call that a success. My knee on the other hand….
You can learn more about the 52 hike challenge here and you can check out my 52 Hike Roundup here and see all the hikes tackled.
So, now I need a new hiking related challenge. Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated! Leave ’em in the comments and I’ll let y’all know which one I choose
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