*Lindsay’s Note: The following is part two in a multi part series by Rebekka Utermohlen on her 2015 Fitness Journey.
I love nature and its fresh air and beautiful landscapes. Yet this love for the outdoors in my adult life has rarely translated into physical activity. I can count the amount of times I went on a hiking excursion in 2014 on one hand, and the only reason I have a hand to count on is because of a road trip I took in October of 2014. My friend was a park ranger at Natural Bridges National Monument in Utah, and we made her one of our stops on the return trip back to California. With her knowledge of the trails, she took my boyfriend and I on some breathtaking hikes. And by breathtaking, I don’t mean scenery. Yes, the views were stunning but I was huffing and puffing like the big bad wolf. I’m out of shape and I don’t suffer in silence. When my legs start to burn, my vernacular becomes very colorful. Hiking kicks my tukhus, but I still love it and this is why hiking works for me.
Hiking leaves little room for excuses. If you give up, you’re stuck on the mountain. If you turn back before getting to the end, you still have to go back over the ground you covered. If you went up a steep incline, you have to walk back down and in turn you activate different muscles. Unlike the gym, you can’t just jump off the hiking trail because you forgot your earbuds at home. I’m the queen of excuses when it comes to getting out of ‘exercise’, so hiking ensures I push myself.
Whether a trail goes in a loop or holds the promise of a gorgeous view, there is a marker for you to hit. Instead of having a personal trainer telling you to push further, there are trail signs marking the elevation or maps telling you how many miles you’ve covered. You don’t have to set a goal for yourself except to get to the end, and there are constant reminders that you’re making progress. Plus exploring new paths and staying wide eyed to what I might spot on a trail is enough motivation for me to wake up and get moving.
Knowing you’ve reached the end of trail is so gratifying. I choose moderate hikes to ensure I’m challenging myself, and stand to the side to let people pass if I need a break. I also take a lot of picture and water breaks. But even if it takes me three and a half hours to finish a two hour trail, I feel accomplished that I finished it. Plus there are the great scenic payoffs along the way. I don’t have to wait to see muscle definition to feel completely rewarded by the workout I’ve finished.
Since October, I’ve done a hike in Big Bear that took me to the PCT (Pacific Crest Trail), and even kicked off 2015 with a sunrise hike at Crystal Cove in Newport Beach. I’m still huffing and puffing, but each hike gets a little easier. My goal is to do one hike a month, as it pairs my love of adventure with the need to get moving. This year I’m elevating my fitness game, and climbing to new heights!
What’s your favorite hiking trail?