Hiking Upwards, or, how to hike uphill. Want to get better and climbing hills, or as we like to call them in Colorado, mountains? While there is no secret sauce to getting better at hiking up hill, I’ve got a handful of tips to dole out that might help you prepare and train better for tackling some of your big hiking goals this year. You can take these same hiking tips and apply them to skiing to keep things going in the winter! When tackling the uphills in winter I’d suggest grabbing a thermal phone case so you can keep your battery charged up and the tunes going.
First, I’d recommend taking a look at The Uphill Athlete. Here you will find loads of resources to help you truly train for hiking uphill. Whether you’re trying to set a new FKT or you’re just trying to crush some personal goals, the information you can find at The Uphill Athlete is invaluable. Ok, now on to the good stuff!
- Let’s start off with some funny hiking quotes. “Don’t be silly, start chilly!”. This is referring to your layering system. When you know that you’re either going to be starting off the day by hiking upwards or shortly into your day is the start of a big climb, you want to start off a little cold, or remove a layer before you begin your upwards trajectory. Hiking upwards versus downwards or on the flats is going to create a lot of heat. Your heart is pumping like mad to get blood to your legs and lungs to help you cope with the climb. By starting off a little bit chilly you can minimize the risks associated with being drenched in sweat. Little things like, oh, hypothermia. You don’t want your whole outfit to become drenched in sweat so go ahead and start a little bit cold. I promise that you will warm up.
- Slow, steady, deliberate. Don’t start your day on full blast. That is going to absolutely lead to burnout, cramps, or something else. Start at a pace you know you could sustain all day and then gradually increase it if you feel ok. The main goal here is to sustain a pace for however long it may take you to tackle the climb. Sometimes this is a mere thirty minutes and other times it could be hours. You don’t want to sap all your energy at once! Start out slow and let your legs and your lungs adjust to the pace and only increase things if necessary. You’re going to make up all that time when you reverse direction and head downhill. The main objective is to consistently be hiking upwards towards your goal!
- Ditch the hiking boots and grab some hiking shoes or trail runners! Did you know that for every one pound on your feet, the equivalent weight on your back is five pounds? Yup, that is a crazy statistic! Simply moving over to a pair of nimble yet hiking shoes or trail runners can drastically increase your pace while hiking uphill. Not only that, they can be far more comfortable for long days hiking than traditional hiking boots.
- Trekking poles. Make your trekking poles your best friend. Seriously. Proper technique with your trekking poles will go a long way towards making your time spent hiking upwards more enjoyable. Firstly, you need to make sure that the length is set properly. When gripping your trekking pole in your palm you want your elbow to be making a right angle. This means that they are set to the right length. You can adjust them to be slightly longer for the downhill journey.
- Listen to some music! With headphones of course. Bluetooth speakers are definitely frowned upon. Put on some upbeat music and focus on the task before you. If it’s cold out, use a thermal phone case to protect your phone from dying in the cold!
There you have it! Some simple tips for hiking upwards. Now you can take what you've learned when you go and tackle the Colorado Trail.