I love to hike. I remember hiking to Rainbow Falls just outside of Mammoth Lakes, CA when I was maybe 5 years old…floppy blue hat, pink striped shirt, my trusty pink “hiking pole” and my teddy bear tucked away in my backpack. I remember stopping in the shade to snack on Vienna sausages, canned fruit cocktail, and being slightly jealous that my baby brother was in the carrier for the long hike to the beautiful (and what felt like enormous) waterfall. But over 20 years later and many more hikes under my belt, I know that not all trails are created equally. Some hiking trails in my suburban neighborhood are just plain boring. I walk them so often that they are more like a really overgrown sidewalk – nothing to really see, too many people when the weather is nice, and that constant fear of a mountain bike taking me out.
So-called “boring” hikes may be a part of life, but I have some tips for making the experience a little more fun.
3 Tips for Turning a Boring Hike into a Micro-Adventure
Tip #1: Share the experience
While solitude is part of the experience of hiking local trails, sharing the experience with a friend or loved one can make the trail seem friendlier. Use the time to catch up or talk shop – it’s harder to be distracted by your smartphone when you are outdoors and enjoying the company! Maybe what you find to be a boring hike is an exciting adventure to somebody else. I stopped hiking during college because my roommates were not interested in it. It wasn’t until I found my current hiking partner that I unpacked my daypack and started hitting the trails again. It was so nice to have something to share with somebody else.
Tip #2: Eat like a champ
Bring a snack or pack a lunch that will keep you motivated to get to the end-point. I’ve seen hikers bring a can of beer (the empty can was promptly packed away to be recycled later), lavish picnics, and food you would not normally think to bring with you (chili dogs??) while hiking. Even a day hike deserves something special – imagine taking a pre-dawn stroll knowing you are carrying a steaming travel mug full of delicious coffee and a breakfast burrito is snuggly tucked away in your pack. I know the excitement of enjoying the coffee and the burrito as I watch the sun rise would make that the most amazing hike! Think outside the box when it comes to rewarding yourself for getting your miles in – a delicious wrap from the local deli, a Thermos full of soup with freshly baked bread, heck…as I write this, I’m trying to figure out the best way to transport a half rack of ribs and a side of mac n cheese without getting barbecue sauce all over my pack. Priorities.
Tip #3: Plan an activity
There are some trails that really drain me when I think about hitting them…another wide fire road with no views, no shade, and…wait, why am I going there again? I found that planning an activity or having some sort of goal while on the trail helps! My favorite way to spice up a boring hike is to geocache along the way. Geocaching is a hi-tech worldwide scavenger hunt that requires the use of a handheld GPS to locate hidden caches based on coordinates. These caches house a book for you to sign and may contain small tokens for trade. The caches are generally hidden in Altoids tins, fake rocks, or other small containers, but I find that when I am on a trail the containers are much bigger…like the size of a large field box/ammo can! I feel like I am part of an underground society when I go geocaching…no boring trail can keep me down! Other activities to consider: bird watching, playing “I Spy” with your hiking partner, or doing an impromptu trail cleanup.
Trails don’t need to have epic sweeping views of valleys or be home to the tallest trees in the world – sometimes the best trail is the one that gets you out of your routine. An adventure is the same way — an early morning jaunt with your neighbor may be just the micro-adventure you need to start your day.
What tips do you have for turning a boring hiking into a micro-adventure?