With any sport or activity, it is generally a good idea to warm up your body to prepare it for what is to come and to reduce the chance of injury. Long distance backpacking is no different. Although many people just roll out of their tents and start walking each day with no stretching or warmup whatsoever, I have found that doing a little warmup routine helps wake up my muscles and shake out the overnight stiffness, making those first few miles much more pleasant than if I skip it. I worked with my physical therapist to come up with this routine, created specifically to target a good number of muscles and joints that get used and often fatigued when backpacking. It is quick and easy to do, and though I don't always do the whole thing (especially when the trail family is about leave without me!), every little bit helps.
Start by standing on one foot, spine tall, core engaged and shoulderblades back, hugging the opposite knee into your chest. Flex and point your toes 5 times, then release the leg, take a big step and bring the opposite knee to your chest and repeat.
Taking a big step between each motion, 5x per motion per side: rock your ankle medially and laterally (sole facing in and out), do circles with your foot clockwise and also counterclockwise.
Bend your knee and grab your foot behind you, engaging your core and tucking your tailbone for a hip flexor (quad) stretch, raising the opposite hand above your head, 5 seconds on each side with a big step in between. Then cross one foot over the opposite knee and "sit", both arms up, warming up the hip extensors (glutes) and stabilizers, 5 seconds each side with a big step in between.
Just two more! Standing pigeon brings one foot across the body as high as you can, opposite arm up, 5 seconds each side with a big step in between. Lastly, those hamstrings need some love. Bring your knee up and lace your fingers beneath it, then extend that leg 5 times on each side, remembering to breathe.
Like I said, I don't always do all of these motions each morning, but I can absolutely feel a difference!
As I continued hiking, I took more notice of the hundreds of cut trees that lay along the side of the trail. I thought about the hands that may have cut them and the many hours spent keeping this trail clear. I have so much gratitude for the employees and volunteers who work so hard to maintain this trail while keeping our wild land wild.
Sometimes you find a beautiful spot but your tent doesn't quite fit. In this case, I just couldn't pass it up and wedged my tent in anyway. This beautiful lake in the Winds was such a treat. I even had a weekender out with his family come and visit for a bit, some welcome social time after a number of days hiking alone.
After hiking through Glacier National Park, the Bob Marshall Wilderness, the Pintler Wilderness, Yellowstone National Park, the Wind River range and countless other breathtaking locations with epic vistas and natural wonders, many CDT hikers dread "the basin" in southern Wyoming. I had been hearing about it for hundreds of miles, with lots of fearmongering on...