Gone Hiking

The past two weekends I’ve gotten into something new: hiking!

I was a part of a hiking club in college, but never really made it out on many hikes. I used to enjoy trails, but since becoming a runner I always looked at trail maps for distances and elevation in order to run easier trails. Recently, I was talking with my children’s pediatrician (we met doing a triathlon a few years back through a mutual friend) and we got to talking about hiking. Well, Rebecca is an avid hiker and welcomed me along to hike with her!

We started easy, as she’s shown me two local trails thus far. We eventually plan to work up to more difficult hikes, which I’m game for. It’s a nice change of pace from running and I don’t run out of steam during the hikes at all. And, it’s fun and I feel like a kid exploring again!

The first hike Rebecca and I went on was so close to our house. So, I decided to take Monkey out on a short trek this past weekend with our dogs to the same park. He was nervous to go hiking, but then he loved it the entire time. I plan to bring Crab, and Chris along next time, but they were off to soccer that morning.

Monkey absolutely loved figuring out the trail maps and looking for the signs to know we were on the right path. We got a little lost and mixed up due to a part of the trail being shut off for a broken bridge, but alas, we eventually made it back out safely.

Ruby and Jeter aren’t the best when we come across other dogs (really, Jeter just goes nuts!), but I figured it would be a quiet trail to go early in the morning to test them out. It turned out they loved it quite a bit and weren’t too crazy when we’d come across someone and their dog. We plan to all “take a hike” next weekend in the same spot. And Monkey and Crab are funny, because now they know what Grandma means when she says, “Go take a hike!” haha.

Rebecca took me on a new trail the day before I went out with Monkey to that shorter trail. On Saturday, we went for about a 6-mile hike along trails that looped together. I brought my camera along to test out a new lens that I just love!

I’ve wanted to get into shooting a little more nature and landscape photography, so this proved to be a good opportunity to try it out. I’m no pro at it, but I thought I snagged a few great images during the trek. My muscles were definitely sore the next day!

I only brought one long lens, so I wasn’t able to get wider angle shots. I might try to bring another option the next go around, but I definitely don’t want to carry a ton of camera gear while hiking.

There weren’t a ton of animals out or birds, but I can imagine come later spring when everything is getting green and animals are awake and breeding it’ll be fun to see what I can photograph.

This trail was pretty flat, which was a good one to start with when planning to do several miles over a few hours. Each hike I’ve added more to my bag to have on hand for safety or in the event I need a snack, water, sunscreen, bug spray, or even an extra shirt. Rebecca has been teaching me a lot about the nuances of hiking and what to carry which has been awesome.

I now know how to read trail markers and how they lead you along on the trail. I learned how to look at the trail maps and layout a trail plan, as well as which phone apps are good for getting trail information without the cost. “All Trails” is a good one!

Overall, my eyes have been opened to a vast amount of wonderful hiking that exists literally right in our backyard and across our state. I had a hiking magazine list for New Jersey previously that I tried to encourage our whole family to go out on adventures two years ago, and I think we might finally just be heading in that direction.

I’m also glad to get the boys outdoors in a new way. We spend a ton of time playing at various playgrounds, riding bikes, or walking places. Now they can explore and enjoy nature and animals in a new way. It’s so fun to see everything through their eyes; like Monkey’s fascination with the babbling river that led from the park all the way to the water inlet by our house.

So much to learn, so much to experience, and definitely doable and easier than running. It’s not about the end result (as sometimes running is), it’s all about the journey.

Do you hike? Have you hiked before? Do you like to hike?

Where might you suggest to hike in the future that is a must see or try?