John Muir once said, "Of all the paths that you take in life, make sure a few of them are dirt." On July 18, I was able to take that advice and go down a dirt road myself as part of an eager group of twelve hikers taking on the historic 33 mile Chilkoot Trail that stretches from Dyea, Alaska to Bennett Lake, British Columbia. The five day hike was along a trail that varied in incline and included rock scrambling up the infamous "Golden Staircase" that 20,000 stampeders crossed starting in 1897. In 1897, they were motivated to complete the trail and strike it rich on the other side of the summit during the infamous Klondike Gold Rush. We however, were there to live off the grid for a couple days and experience a challenge.
Strength and mobility training are the meat and potatoes of a backpackers fitness plan. Backpackers need both the physical and mental strength to carry a 40-50 pound load and stay healthy and mobile enough to grind out the trail while overcoming obstacles, such as rocks and steep switchbacks.
My training toolbox for this particular hike consisted of squat-lunge-single leg deadlift variations, kettlebell swings, and farmers walks to create the strength and power to handle my backpack with ease on an uneven surface. Crawling push-ups with a weighted vest aligned better for training where three points of contact were required on the trail, such as rock scrambling and maneuvering under branches.
Do you have the functional strength needed to meet your goals?
Long-term health and strength should be your motivator to stay on track. What will your body look and feel like five, ten, or fifty years from now?
How about your short-term goals? Maybe one goal is to lift your luggage into the overhead compartment of a plane or something as simple as loading/unloading your weekly groceries with ease. Or, maybe you want to train for the Chilkoot, too?
Whatever it may be, let me know what short and long term goals I can help you to achieve.