So I see that some bloggers actually use their words instead of just throwing up a bunch of pictures and hoping for the best. I usually don’t do this because…well it seems like a lot of work and I’m pretty lazy. Today I thought I would give it a shot and see what the fuss is about. So I bring you the 5 stages of hiking (or exercise) for the out of shape person.
This stage is almost always first and is almost always regretted about 200 yards onto the trail. You may recognize this stage as that moment you get out of the car and say things like, “This doesn’t look too bad.” while staring at the face of a 3,000 foot incline. Other thoughts of denial may be thoughts like “I crushed last weeks hike so this one is easy.” or “altitude never bothers me” and, my personal favorite, “that skinny 22 year old is doing just fine I’m sure I will too.”
The transition from Denial to the next stage is often subtle at first, some pain in the calf muscles, a few beads of sweat stinging your eyes, the noises that your joints make which sounds like twigs somehow snapping and grinding on a rock and can only be described as disturbing. Stage 2 is on its way so prepare yourself.
The anger stage is defined by a very specific type of anger that manifests itself mainly in the yelling at inanimate objects. “You are the dumbest rock of the all the rocks.” you may say moments after your exhausted legs roll on a pebble at the top of a slight incline. The wind is too hot moments before it is causing frostbite. The Sun, who in the Denial stage was your best friend painting the path with golden rays, is now attacking your skin ferociously with stinging rays of cosmic death. “Why, why would you do this to yourself. Did you not remember the first hour of last weeks hike” you mutter to yourself. “Never again!” becomes a mantra.
Around the time that the sweet songs of a bird begin to pierce your eardrums with shrill vibrations, you have a choice to make. This is usually around the time you are staring up at a large incline, the biggest of your hike today, and you have to decide. “Nope absolutely not, I’m done. I want ice cream” or “Screw It, I’m Trying” So far I have always sided with “Screw It, I’m Trying” and it has taken over as my mantra and gotten to me the next stage.
“Dear Jesus, Mohammed, Ganesha, Gaia, Little Elf Dude that lives in the trees and makes cookies, or whoever is in charge of this, please no more ups. I can deal with flats and I can deal with flat and rocky or flat and sandy. I can deal with down, I like down. Gravity finally is on my side when we go down and I move with the grace of a greased pig coming down an escalator towards a Vegas buffet line. Please, just no more ups. I promise to not complain (externally) for the rest of the hike and promise to come back, plant a tree or buy fudge stripe cookies if you just give me 1 mile with no ups.”
“We are going up again. I take back everything I thought before…except Fudge Stripes do sound good.” This is the hardest stage for the out of shape or overweight hiker (or exerciser) This is the point that according to the map is usually around halfway. You are almost to the peak. Your feet hurt. You are tired. Your left index finger hurts and you can’t remember why. The half empty water bladder sloshes in your backpack at a slow rhythm that matches your strides. Your actual bladder is now half full and urging you to pick up the pace.
“I won’t go on. I can’t go on. Oh look, another person passing me. screw it, i’m trying. Screw you, just quit. That’s not a terrible idea. Oh look another hill to climb. Real original Mother Nature. I’m not doing that. Do it. Not happening. You can’t anyway. Probably not. Maybe. Nah. SCREW IT, I’M TRYING“.
This is my favorite part. This usually happens when you hit that peak, or spot on the trail and you realize it was all worth it. Distance runners call it the runners high, but anyone who runs that far without being chased shouldn’t be trusted. Your whole body goes numb, which is good because you forget about the pain. Your mind goes blank, its almost like it is clearing out space for this memory, this vision, this moment of peace and beauty.
You don’t remember anything about what led up to this moment because this moment is what it was all about. You stand there for a minute, for two minutes, for five minutes…well maybe not 5 if your bladder is really filling up but you get the point. The rest of the hike is carried out in this stage. Your steps are lighter. Your mind is clear except for a constant urge for Fudge Stripe cookies for some reason. Acceptance is the reason we keep coming back. We don’t remember all the hard parts or the long path or the mean rocks that tried to trip us. Like a golfer shooting a birdie on the 18th for a round of 176, we just remember those good parts and the moment we told ourselves “Screw it, I’m Trying“!
More from the Fatman
If you enjoyed this make sure to check out my “Fatman Ramblings Page“. If you have a suggestion for a hike that you would like me to try, feel free to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org or you can follow me on the below social media platforms. I have also added all the hikes and restaurants to the interactive map that you can find here. And if you want to buy a shirt, I have them available below!