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Hiking Self Care
February 22, 2013

February 2013: A Note From Diane


February is associated with hearts and flowers, right?

As a hiker, I spin this a bit differently.

Hearts need to be strong to get us out on hiking adventures.

Question: What have you done for your heart lately?

Before a hike or walk, do you eat a complex carbohydrate snack that will release fuel at a steady pace? Your hard working cardiac muscles need that fuel!

Do you bring water along, and consume it at regular intervals? Your blood pressure depends not only on "clean pipes" (healthy blood vessels so your peripheral resistance to blood flow is within normal ranges), but also cardiac output - how much blood volume fills each chamber to generate pressure.

So staying hydrated equates into efficient heart functioning.

There's more to it than that, of course, but the bottom line I'm driving at is: drink water, even when you don't "feel" thirsty (that happens to me in cold weather). It's a "heart helpful" habit every hiker needs to develop.

And what about after your hike? How do you "repay" your fuel debt? Heavy or greasy fried foods make your body work hard for the nutrients locked up in that burger or chicken. Try a fish taco or chicken/bean burrito with rice and black beans, and note how that feels compared with the heavier food.

I mentioned hearts AND flowers, didn't I?

"Flowers" bring back memories of the gorgeous bouquets Mother Nature provided me last summer - just for the price of a bit of sweat and leg power.

So this time of year, I go back through the photos of my flower hikes, and appreciate them anew. Sounds like a great way to spend a dreary winter day, doesn't it? So don't wait to go virtual hiking by enjoying your hiking photos, or

try this website.

And please enjoy this photo of Bitterroot my husband took last spring in Eastern Washington - it flowers right out of the dirt in a truly mesmerizing fashion! The above link gives you more info about it.

And now.... A gear review

I definitely do not like falling during a hike.

In fall and spring, sometimes even in winter conditions, my feet get out from under me and down I go. Sometimes even to the end of the driveway to pick up the mail can be dicey!!

Enter Microspikes and YakTrax.

Before I get started, let me note that I don't work for either company, and I don't make a penny if you click on those links. I just want you to be able to get your questions answered right from the source!

I've had the Yaks for about 7 years, and they worked well for certain conditions involving icy patches on a trail. But I never felt 100% solid in them while going downhill on slippery surfaces. And sometimes they got all balled up on the bottom of my boots.

In the true spirit of scientific inquiry, I purchased a pair of Micros for my husband as a gift, then observed how they performed in icy conditions.

Envy. Pure spiky envy on my part.

Those little metal spikes held him rock solid on really nasty surfaces. They were easy to get on and off. They crammed well into a plastic bag for efficient transport. They took up just a small amount of room in the gear locker as they were drying.

And here's an even better feature: customizable snow shoes, using the micro spike idea! Check it out on their website!

More ways to love your hiking body....

We've covered hearts. Now let's concentrate on legs.

Use the winter season to work on your leg strength and muscle flexibility.

Be stealthy about it!

While selecting canned goods at your favorite food store, do 10 toe lifts (up and down on the tips of your toes) with a heavy can of V8 juice in each hand. Smile at strangers who look at you sideways, 'cuz you're getting stronger and they're not!

Waiting for a movie to start? Do 15 ankle rolls in one direction, then the other. Geez, that feels good! Don't wait for the next blockbuster to try it.

Watch for your favorite scented body butter to go on sale, then indulge in an ankle and shin massage by the one person in the world qualified to find your every ache and tight spot: you!

Don't overlook the power of repetition. Just a few small moves, made daily, build a stronger hiking body.

For instance, every morning I use 8 pound weights for 10 minutes, with a goal to build upper body strength so I can hoist my backpack safely onto my back (or into a bush plane, if I'm lucky enough to be planning a big adventure).

I'm sure you can think of more ways to sneak in a bit of muscle therapy during your daily routine. Send me your favorites, and I'll compile a list for all to enjoy. Just use any contact box on my website.

That's all for now....

My wish for you is that you are able to make time to plan some hiking categories to chip away at this year.

My favorite categories: waterfall hikes, flower hikes (as mentioned above), and wilderness travel.

What are yours? Make a list, and then get busy with a map and some web surfing! If you don't plan them, they won't come.

And please let me know if I can help, I'm always eager to get hikers of all abilities OUT THERE and exploring.

From me to you,

Happy Trails always.

-Diane a.k.a. Happy Hiker
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