Trail Legs Are For Walking

Updated: Feb 24, 2020

March is approaching. The black bears of North Carolina are probably getting hungry about now. It’s almost time to get out there and deny them human food.

I literally can’t wait.

Not the black bear part. The part where I’m out in the wilderness enjoying all there is to enjoy. Though I do hope to see some black bears this year, I’ll avoid antagonizing them with human food. If it’s all the same to you, that is.

Need Those Trail Legs

Hikers talk about trail legs. It’s basically a term for getting back into hiking shape. Yet it’s different than, say, a runner or cyclist being in shape. That requires much more effort. I mean, we’re only talking about walking on a trail here. Walking on a mountainous trail with a full pack.

A few miles here and there, no big deal. Fourteen mile days covering multiple nights, well, now we’re starting to test ourselves.

I think that’s one of the many things I love about getting out on the trail. It doesn’t require one to be in peak physical condition. You don’t even have to be in average shape to get out there. Though you may want to avoid those fourteen mile days until you’ve completed a few trips.

How do you know when you’ve got your trail legs back? You just do.

Last August, as I was pushing a group of hikers up a difficult mountain trail with full packs, I told them how on day three, the next day, it would get easier. Not because the trail would be easier, but because they would have their trail legs. I could see the disbelief in their body language. They believe me now.

Your body will adjust. The soreness will abate. What felt almost impossible on day one, becomes doable by day three. Before you know it you are conquering mountains like a seasoned Sherpa in Tibet. Okay, okay. Maybe not “Sherpa” status.

Those Winter Blues

I walk often. For years I had tried to replicate what it takes to hike the mountains. Now I just walk to keep my sanity. I haven’t found a way to get my trail legs back without actually getting out there. So I accept I will be challenged for the first few days. Soon enough my hiking rhythm will return.

Of course, there are other things to do when I’m not out there.

  • Pack my pack, then put it on and walk around the house (my wife doesn’t even shake her head anymore). I mean, my backpack gets lonely in the corner of my closet.

  • Pull everything out of my backpack and put it back in. Ya know, just in case something went missing.

  • Inflate my sleeping pad and place it under my sheets and sleep on it. No. Seriously. I’ve been doing this.

  • Put my backpack on and walk about the house. Wait. I already mentioned this.

  • Look at my maps and plan a trip. Again. And then, again.

I think that’s all for now. Here’s some pictures from last year.

#traillegs #hiking

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