When you can’t hike

Keep yourself engaged

It’s early 2020 and Australia has had a hell of a start to the year. First we had a summer full of bushfires that have impacted much of the country, destroying large sections of the bushland that we as hikers spend so much of our time exploring. If that wasn’t enough just as the opportunity to return to the bush presented itself we have the Coronavirus and with it, the ability to access many of our walks has again been curtailed but clearly for a different reason.

Now while these big events will greatly impact our ability to get out and hike, they are not the norm. There are so many other more mundane reasons within our day to day lives that prevent us from hiking. Environmental conditions such as extreme cold, extreme heat, heavy rains and then there’s the personal stuff like illness, injury or even something simple like not having time. So when you find yourself unable to hike, what can you do to keep yourself engaged with the outdoors? Let’s look at some options.

Live vicariously through others by exploring online

There are so many amazing online hiking and outdoor websites and podcasts for you to spend your time reading and listening to and there are always new ones coming on line. If you are reading this, you are already on the Australian Hiker website. In addition, there are plenty of hiking and outdoor related podcasts that provide an opportunity to hear about your favourite hobby or to live a hike through others. At the time of this article, there is estimated to be over 900,000 podcasts available for you listening pleasure. Really!

So many hiking websites from around the world including Australian Hiker

Plan your next adventure

As I write this article I had the whole year’s worth of hiking planned out weekend by weekend from short day hikes all the way up to a four week hike on the 650+ km Australian Alps Walking Track. These plans by in large have gone to pot and now I find myself having to scramble while I rearrange an awful lot of hikes.

I’m now taking many of my hikes week by week and have now started to focus in a serious way on my Alps trip. As an obsessive planner I start to plan each day down to the finest detail; where I will camp, where my water sources may be, my food allocation and resupply strategy including my fitness regime which I have already started to consider and will focus on more seriously in the coming months. For me this planning phase is something I love just as much as the hiking and something I spend hours and hours to put into place.

What are your plans? Are you going to hike the Larapinta Trail in August, or the Overland Track in February next year? If there is something that has been on your bucket list for a while, even if it’s a much shorter short hike, lock it some time down the track and start your preparation know. Setting goals is a great way to keep you interested.

Mount Oakleigh on the Overland Track

Review and maintain your equipment

When was the last time you did an audit of your hiking equipment. Some people never do and only realise there is an issue when things break. This may be a simple as replacing the laces on your footwear, patching holes in your pack or waterproofing your shelter and wet weather gear.

You should also take the time to assess your gear to see if what you are using still suits your needs. Maybe it’s time to replace your equipment or you may decide what you have is just right. You should at least think it through and make a conscious decision.

Is your gear still meeting your needs? Does it need repair? How would you know its fit for purpose if you haven’t checked?

Review and maintain your first aid gear

One of the biggest oversights most people make is not failing to carry first aid equipment but in failing to maintain your kit. Most hikers will get enthused when they first start hiking and will assemble a reasonable first aid kit. But when was the last time you checked its contents? Is the medication past its use by date? How old are the bandages? While they may have never been used if they are old and the packaging is deteriorating, then it probably is time to think about replacing them. For that matter, when was the last time you updated your first aid knowledge or qualifications?

When was the last time you had a good look at your hiking first aid kit? Are the medicines still within their use by date? Are the bandages still still in good condition and sterile?

What other opportunities are out there or to improve your knowledge

Is there some skill you need to improve such as  your navigation skills or your first aid skills? Read up from a wide range of sources. Books and magazines are great options here.

Australia’s best known hiking magazines provide a good opportunity to find out about some amazing and unique adventures

Watch movies and read books about the outdoors

There are so many amazing hiking and outdoor related books to read. Some are based on real life stories while others are fiction, and many are simply inspirational. It was never my intention to ever walk the Camino de Santiago but after reading A Million Steps this walk is now on my list. There are also some amazing videos on the market and I will often read the book as well as watch the movie to get different things out of the different media.

You are probably aware of some of these movies and books but there are likely to be many others you ever have heard about. We have reviewed a number of books and movies at Australian Hiker which can be found here

Wild DVD; probably the best known hiking movie of recent times

Get fit for when it’s time to get out there

If your reason for not being able to hike is poor health or lack of time to exercise or get fit then see this as an opportunity. Doing something is better than nothing even it means a 10-15 minute walk around the block. Some days I just don’t feel like exercising. I’ll use the argument that I just don’t have the time or I’m to tired. A good exercise regime is about creating a habit so next time you look for an excuse, just do it even if its only for a short timeframe.

Pack Training can even include a short walk around the block with a weighted pack; it doesn’t need to be done over long distances

And of course, bore your family and friends with stories of your own experiences!

Do you remember as a young child how the grownups would rabbit on endlessly about some lame adventure or hobby they love? I remember many years ago making a hobby of this with a friend who had some very obvious signs about when he was going to leave and I made a game out of how long I could keep him from leaving. Now it’s your turn for payback!

Last words

For one reason or another there will be times when you just can’t get out and hike. Sometimes it will be by choice and other times it will be for reasons outside your control. When this happens, look for ways to keep your hiking dream alive and before you know it, you’ll be back on the trail again.

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