Bex Band aka The Ordinary Adventurer is more Adventurer than she is Ordinary. We supported her Israel National Trail (INT) Thru Hike in the fall of 2016 with SOURCE Hydration Systems and Sandals and we loved the way she shared hard earned knowledge and experience in her blog. Finishing the 1,000 km INT she put together 10 tips for thru hiking. We’re looking forward to future ‘ordinary’ adventures, and we are proud our SOURCE Hydration Systems and Sandals lived up to Bex’ standards on her INT Thru Hike.
I can’t recommend Source hydration packs enough.
“For years, thru hiking had been a dream of mine. The thought of walking for a long distance with everything I needed contained in one pack, it sounded like exactly the break I needed from ‘real’ life. Then, one day, I decided to make it happen. I booked a flight and started making plans to hike the Israel National Trail (INT), a 1,020 km long hike that stretched the full length of Israel, passing mountains, coastline and desert.
On November 25th 2016, I ran, fully clothed, into the Red Sea in Eilat, the finishing point of the INT. It marked the end of what had been the most amazing journey of my life. Thru hiking is tough. It pushes you physically and mentally to your limits and strips back all the baggage that comes with modern day life. In amongst all the difficult times though, you will have pure moments of elation, satisfaction and a love of your planet that can only come from taking on a challenge of nature in such a way.
It doesn’t matter where you go or for how long. Just get a thru hike in your sights, you won’t regret it. Here are 10 tips to get you started….
1) Nothing can properly prepare you
Not being fit enough or prepared enough is an excuse that many people will use for not starting a thru hike. In truth, nothing can really prepare you for long-distance hiking other than actually doing it. Before starting the INT, I was not in the best of shape. After just a week on the trail though, I felt my fitness improve massively and each day my legs getting stronger. Have faith that your body will adjust.
2) Look after your feet
Your feet are going to be carrying you for hundreds of miles, so look after them. Invest in a decent pair of boots or shoes and socks for hiking in the day. Wear them in before you get going. I can recommend investing in a liner pair of socks to help prevent blisters. You will also want a pair of sandals for when you set up camp. I took a pair of Source hiking sandals which I was able to use on flatter sections of the trail giving my feet a chance to air in the hot weather.
3) Pack as light as you can
The lighter your pack, the more enjoyable your trip will be. You will be able to pack quicker in the mornings and will have less weight to carry meaning less chances of injury. Getting used to living with the bare minimum takes a bit of practice but you will be surprised how easy (and nice!) it is.
I used SOURCE Hiking Sandals on flatter sections of the trail giving my feet a chance to air in the hot weather.
4) Embrace the grossness of the trail
You are going to go days and days without showering. You will need to go to the toilet in the wild. Laundry is usually hand washing your clothes in a sink once a week at most. You are going to smell, feel and look dirty. Embrace it! For the occasions that you do have access for a shower, have a LUSH shampoo block to hand – small, light and without risk of leaking it’s the perfect soap for hikers.
5) Give yourself more time than you think you need
Having the luxury of time will make your hike much more enjoyable. Rather than rushing and feeling pressured to stick to a schedule, you will be able to listen to your body and mood and hike as much or as little as you want each day. It will give you the freedom to take rest days when you want and will also allow some back up time in case you get injured.
6) Don’t count miles when you hike
I very quickly got into the habit of counting miles when I was walking – how far I had gone, how long I had to go, how fast I was walking. I often found myself racing to the next checkpoint, passing the scenery in a blur. Learning to switch off from measuring everything you do is not easy but is also the best way to experience thru hiking. Take in your surroundings and be in the moment, rather than in your head.
7) Don’t be afraid to go it alone
The hiker community is generous and supportive and you will make friends much quicker on the trail than you do at home. Going it alone gives you the flexibility to hike at your own pace.
8) Learn the importance of food and drink
While hiking you will want to be eating high calorie, lightweight foods that you can snack on throughout the day. You need to be sipping on water throughout the day as well. I can’t recommend Source hydration packs enough. They fit comfortably into your pack and the innovate straw design make it easy and convenient to drink water regularly as you go. The 3L version gives you more flexibility than 2L.
You will also want a pair of sandals for when you set up camp.
9) Prepare for the loneliness
Long-distance hiking can feel really lonely, even if you are hiking with other people. There will be stretches where you feel bored and isolated. They always passed eventually. Podcasts became a great companion on the trail, providing easy hiking entertainment to help pass the difficult times.
10) Keep in contact with home
Thru hiking can put you in a bubble that feels far away from life back home. Days and weeks can fly by in a flash and it can be easy to loose contact with friends and family. On rest days, make an effort to contact people, let them know how you are doing and find out what they are up to. Coming home after a thru hike is a difficult adjustment, don’t make it even harder for yourself by become isolated.”