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Hiking Tips: How To Use All Four Facets Of Yourself
On The Trail

When you hear "hiking tips", I'll bet you expect some common sense recommendations about boots and packs and hiking clothing.

No surprise!

Use those links to find more helpful tips than you can shake your trekking pole at, as well as this site map.

Instead, if you're up for it, let's talk here about hiking tips for other, less often discussed facets of hiking by focusing on this question:

Do you approach your trail time from

all four perspectives?

You might not have noticed that you have 4 facets to "you" as a hiker, beginning with the spiritual dimension and moving through the emotional, mental, and physical levels.

These best hiking tips will get you thinking about all 4 dimensions - or you can just focus on the one(s) which interest(s) you the most.

Because being a one-dimensional hiker is rather boring, don't you agree? It's like looking at a map but never hiking the real trail!

Spiritual tips to ponder

I am not about to tell you which religion is best, or which spiritual leader or book or movement is THE way.

That's a deeply personal decision.

But I do want to share with you how important it is to have passion and purpose in your life.

For me, hiking unlocks my spiritual dimension because it touches a dimensionless space inside of me.

It also puts me in touch with a deep commitment to the planet, and to my fellow travellers in time, which leads to thoughts of service and compassion.

Not a bad head space to be in, I hope you'll agree.

To explore what I mean, here's a question for you:

Have you ever allowed yourself some space and time to just sit beneath a tree and breathe slowly?

You might not think of this as a spiritual exercise, but you'd be surprised what you might learn about yourself!

Here's the trick:

Empty your mind and focus on just one thing: breathing with the tree.

Lean against it, or lie beneath it and look up at its branches.

Acknowledge that both of you are fellow Earth travellers.

  • The tree is breathing out oxygen.
  • You are breathing out carbon dioxide.
  • Together, you complete a cycle of gas exchange.
  • Breathing together also renews vital components for life far beyond where you are sitting, thanks to the ocean of air surrounding the planet.

Try my tree-breathing tip for a few minutes and then get back on the trail, refreshed and energized.

If the spiritual aspect didn't surface, at least your red blood cells are oxygenated and your muscles are relaxed!

I also highly recommend that you try a little Nature Therapy to ground yourself.

You could also consider hiking as a spiritual pilgrimage.

  • Read one story of the Camino de Santiago here.

Emotional aspect of hiking

Hiking tips to address the emotional aspects of being a strong, confident, committed hiker should begin with identifying your emotions.

This sounds deceptively simple, but I find it very hard to nail exactly what I'm feeling sometimes in the rush and tumble of the workaday world.

I tend to blur the line between annoyance and flat out anger.

Or I allow irritations to build up until a volcano of upset and hurt spews forth, scorching everything in its path.

So, based upon personal experience, I advise you to isolate each emotion as it arises, and examine it dispassionately. A long day's hike is the perfect place for this!

Decode the message(s) in your emotions by asking yourself:

  • Which feelings are surfacing right now, and why?
  • Is this a pattern?
  • Is it an habitual reaction to a particular person or event?
  • Is it useful?
  • Is it painful or damaging to you or others?
  • Does it consume or control you?

I can't speak for you, but I'm committed to working on my emotions, unpacking the truth within them, and using that truth to become more stable and centered.

I find this work to be easier while I'm hiking, probably because I'm not distracted by emails, phone, to do lists, and other interruptions.

Long stretches of trail time give me mental space to go back over my latest emotional upset, and analyze it.

It helps if your trail companions are not chatty. If they are, fall back a bit to clear some mental space for yourself.

Try it for yourself on your next hike! Devote your thoughts to working out why you feel the way you feel when your feelings are uncomfortable.

Why would I suggest you do this? Because dark, heavy emotions rob you of energy.

Wouldn't you rather have that energy directed to your passions in life, like hiking?

Bright pink monkey flowers along a hiking trailThese pink monkey flowers are whispering hiking tips to center yourself on the trail. Are you listening?

Mental hiking tips to try

Mental hiking tips begin with the energy theme, too.

To use another personal example:

If I have a long list of things waiting to be accomplished back home, I don't enjoy my hike to the fullest.

But if I allow it to, hiking pulls me out of my head and away from my troubles and looming chores.

The rhythm of the trail creates space to become peaceful and un-filled-up with my "to do" lists.

In a sense, I claim my power and utilize it for the hiking trail.

Those chores will be waiting for me when I get home, so why spend my precious outdoor time stewing about them?

So try this tip:

The next time you catch yourself in the mental churn cycle, consciously disrupt it by focusing on how much you are loving being on the trail!

  • Focus your energy on having a great hiking trip, not on how you're going to cross off every item on the chore list tomorrow.
  • Be in the moment, not preoccupied by past or future events. Trail moments are to be savored, right?
  • Allow your senses to open and welcome what the trail has to offer. Send gratitude to the fragrant trees, the sparkling water, to whatever catches your attention.

Physical hiking tips

At last we get to the hiking tips for your physical hiker's body.

I hope you've already had a chance to look around at the nutrition information and the healthy hiking tips on this website.

Here, I'd like to drop a little challenge into your lap.

  • Are you serious about building & maintaining a strong hiker's body?
  • Have you set yourself a goal, and are working toward it?

By building solid physical habits, your trail time will be enhanced a thousand-fold because you won't be as prone to the usual trail issues:

And that means you will be able to enjoy every moment of each and every hike!

Have you met all four facets of you?

Do you have a few new ideas to toss around on your next hike, in the privacy of your mind?

Or perhaps you're re-invigorated to make the most of trail time.

Either way, best wishes for great hiking!

Every trail has its secrets, and you'll be able to unlock them now that you're tuned into your four facets as a hiker.


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