Switch It Up: Hike Your Way to Increased Endurance

July 03, 2009


One of the great things about Washington state is that one minute you can be skiing in the mountains and the next you can be enjoying the sun and cool weather on the beach. This makes for some great R&R and an opportunity to switch up your workout.

This past weekend, I went for a hike at Mount Rainier. (Yeah, it's the massive volcano you see when you touch down in Sea-Tac). Not only is it the most prominent mountain in the contiguous United States, but it has 26 major glaciers and 35 square miles of snowfields and glaciers. On clear days "the mountain" (as the natives call it) dominates the Seattle-Bellevue-Tacoma metro area skyline and sometimes it can be seen from Portland, Oregon and Victoria, British Columbia.

Of course, climbing this monstrosity is very dangerous, so I stuck to a easy/moderate trail called Ranger Falls. The trail consisted of 3 miles on a gravel road and two miles of climbing up to the falls (Around 11-12 miles round trip). But if you don't have the luxury of being near a volcano, some of the best trails can be found at your nearest state park. A few tips before you hit the trail.

Hiking Tips

  • Dress in layers: Weather can change at the drop of the hat. It's better to take layers off than not being prepared.

  • B.Y.O.W: Bring your own water. I wouldn't recommend drinking from streams unless you pack along a purification system. Otherwise, take along some H2O to stay

  • Pack a snack: You'd be surprised how much energy you expend climbing hills, etc. My favorite hiking snack is trail mix. But don't be like me and eat the entire bag on the way to the trail.

  • Wear comfortable hiking shoes: You will be climbing, jumping and stepping in mud and/or water. Invest in a good pair of hiking boots and your feet will thank you. Also, wear tall socks to keep out dirt and sand.

  • Take your time: When you ascend to higher elevations the air is thinner and has less oxygen.

  • Don't Leave Your Trash Behind: Keep Mother Nature beautiful and happy.
For more information on hiking and popular trails in your hood visit the American Hiking Society's web site at www.americanhiking.org. Runner's World also has great resources on hitting the trail.

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