Different hiking partners

Posted by JM on Jun 21, 2016

Not everyone is the same! Which in life, of course, is a fantastic thing.

When it comes to hiking though, ‘different’ often translates into different hiking speeds and fitness levels.

My partner and I are very different hikers; we each have our individual hiking speed and tempo. We knew this going into the Rondanestien hike, and we also prepared for it so that both of us would be happy.

The main thing to remember is that when you’re hiking with a partner, or even a friend, the reason why you’re doing the hike is because you want to do it together. This means matching the speed of the hiker who is slowest.

Of course this doesn’t always work out on the trail. For example, my partner felt she could walk faster if I was in front of her and setting the pace. But I often hiked behind her, letting her set the pace, when I was tired.

Sometimes I really had to motivate her, especially when facing steep ascents, another (damn) swamp, or never-ending rocks. It’s a good idea to plan ahead, think about the terrain you’re going to go through, discuss it together, be realistic about each other’s abilities and motivation levels.

For example, it may be psychologically easier to negotiate a steep hill at the end of the day, than have to face ‘more of the same’ the next morning. Having conquered the unimaginable the day before, feels even sweeter in the morning while lying in your sleeping bag, preparing yourself for the day ahead.

Of course, in the end, these types of challenges became easy for my partner. So keep in mind that the more you walk together, and the more you walk in general, the faster and stronger the both of you will get. You’ll also develop greater understanding and feeling for each other’s style, pace and tempo. The way the both of you walk on the first day, definitely won’t be the same way after a three-week hike.

It’s really important to take plenty of breaks, and let everyone rest and recover. Time spent zoning out for a few minutes, or even having a quick catnap, is always time well spent when hiking. It may make the difference between walking longer or setting up camp early and exhausted. Plus, nature never fails to disappoint, and the whole purpose of doing a hike, is to appreciate and take in everything around you.

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