Before hiking the Appalachian Trail, I thought that long distance hikers would stop feeling aches & pains. They would evolve into super hikers after hiking 200+ miles. I was mistaken. I still had the same aches and pains. However, I learned how to take care of myself and manage those aches & pains. Self-care is critical on a hike and in life. My recent Tahoe Rim Trail hike reminded of those self care lessons.
Foot Care: The right shoe and sock combination & foot self-care is essential for long distance hiking. I prepared for the Tahoe Rim Trail by trail running and hiking in my local Santa Cruz mountains. While I built my cardio, running on soft dirt did not harden my feet. Nor was I able to determine I did not have the right shoe / sock combo. Self-care on the trail helped me overcome my blisters from the rocky trail. A few times a day, I would remove my socks and dry my feet & socks. I also drained & taped my feet. Soaking my feet in streams helped as well.
Hydration: Portions of the Tahoe Rim Trail are very dry. The Sierra Crest wrings moisture from the air leaving the Eastern portions of the TRT arid. Staying hydrated is critical – especially in dry, alpine air. Before each day I planned where I would get my water sources. I drank as much as possible in the morning. Whenever I stopped at a water source, I drank as much water as possible. Then I carried the right amount of purified water to my next source. I also used some throat lozenges while I hiked as well.
Food: I did not concentrate on nutrition when I previously hiked the Appalachian Trail. I ate snickers bars everyday for lunch and lipton meals for many dinners. Eating more natural food – nuts, almond butter, applies & dried fruit, oatmeal, Chinese Ramen – made a big difference. I brought fritos and snickers for old times sake. After the 2nd day, the processed foods tasted artificial.
Positive Thinking: Hiking by yourself brings many mental highs and lows. After cresting a high alpine pass, I felt like I could climb Mount Everest next. After descending the rocky, scree filled trail from the pass, I felt like an old man. Staying focused on my goals were critical. I focused on short goals in the day like a pass or a lake. I took short breaks to help regain my energy but did not linger too long. Keeping moving helped my trip & mental progress. Movement also kept the mosquitoes as bay. A rolling stone gathers no moss or bug bites.