Hiking in Romania’s mountains offers a powerful experience, which can only be compared to what adventurers felt, while exploring areas where people haven’t, or rarely set foot before. The untamed wilderness is harsh, beautiful and mesmerizing, demanding and rewarding at the same time, giving you the opportunity to reconnect with nature at the most basic level, leaving you with an inner peace that modern man seldom finds.
It doesn’t really matter which area of the Carpathian’s you want to explore, once you leave your vehicle behind and start your journey you will soon leave behind all evidence of modern civilization. There are trails that lead you across dense forests, with rich local flora and fauna, with almost no sign of humans ever existing. Wild animals are not uncommon. Brown bears, wolves, deer, wild cats, and other wild animals roam across the land freely, usually avoiding contact with humans. Still, there are areas where there’s a chance that you can come across them, so don’t be alarmed if you see them in the distance. Bears and wolves are elusive animals, that won’t attack groups of tourists. Meeting them, watching them in their natural habitat is a strong, unique experience that will always stay with you. If you plan on doing this always look for a local guide with experience to keep safe.
Hiking is a learned skill. Sure it is simply walking but we can always improve our techniques to allow for faster hiking speeds. Here is a list to help you begin increasing your hiking speeds.
Finding the right shoes and socks are key in helping you increase your speeds. When I say investing this means both money and time. Maybe this means switching from thick socks to thinner socks. It could also mean that you switch from a heavy hiking boot to a light weight trail runner. Finding what works best for you can take time but it is well worth the investment. Having shoes that feel as if they were created just for you helps your speeds up by creating less strain on your foot, ankle, and knees. Also finding the right sock and shoe combination to help decrease foot perspiration and the creation of hotspots also helps. The happier your feet are the happier you are.
Your pace will adjust based on the terrain you encounter, but getting into a rhythm or cadence is key. Your cadence is the length of your stride on every step, how you place your feet, how you swing your arms, and how you control tour breathing. Everyone will hit their stride and forget that they are hiking. This cadence allows you to keep a steady pace and keeps you in a comfortable mindset. The quicker you can find that rhythm and the longer you can stick with it the quicker your hiking will become. Each person is different and if you are hiking with a group you might not be hitting your cadence because you are trying to keep up with the group or fall into the troop mentality. A troop mentality is when everyone is hiking, walking, or marching at the same pace matching strides and body movements. It happens with a large group of people or even when its just another person. You begin to match their stride and pace and the next thing you know you are 100% in sync with their movements. This can be good if you both have the same natural cadence but if not it can wear you out quickly.
Making sure that you body is properly fueled up for the hike is key. No matter if you are going on a day hike or thru hiking a long trail. Making sure your body has the proper food and hydration will help you maintain your hiking speeds. If you do not eat enough calories your body will begin to consume the nutrients already in your system and can cause what is called “Bonking”. “Bonking” is a term used mostly by runners and cyclists to explain when the person has hit a point in which they have become sluggish and tired. When you begin to feel like your pace has slowed and it is harder to hike than it had been you need to immediately stop grab a snack and hydrate. I always enjoy some type of food bar or GORP. Loading up on the calories at night and in the morning will keep you going but always plan to have several snacks during the day.
Taking breaks will help break up the day but will also allow for a nice recharge. Drop the pack take off the boots and get comfortable. Have some food hydrate and relax. I am not saying that you need to sit there for several hours but let your body recover. Depending on the length of the hike for the day you might want to take more than one break. Having breaks like this not only helps your body but it also helps your mind relax.
Using hiking / trekking poles is an acquired taste. Those who use them love using them. They help with your cadence, they provide stability, and they transfer away stress from your hips knees, and ankles. Make sure they are properly adjusted and if they are at any way hindering your cadence you will most likely will just end up throwing them in your pack. Learning to use them takes time but once you can get comfortable using them you will find that it is easy to also find your cadence. They are not for everyone so do not get discouraged if you truly do not like them. Try using one pole instead of two. Switch hands to see where the one pole fits into your cadence. It takes adjustment so you will need to try it a couple of times before completely writing them off.
How have you sped up your hiking pace? Have you used any of these techniques with success?
Cowboy Camping as defined by Urban Dictionary as “Sleeping outside in the backcountry without an overhead shelter (such as a tent or tarp), usually done in the context of backpacking.“
As hikers and backpackers we have experienced merino wool in many types of clothing especially our socks. The most common is Merino is wicking, quick drying, and antimicrobial. There is a new sock contender in the market. The entire line of socks are made from Alpaca yarn. Cleverly named Alpacor® the Ausangate sock company is adding new fibers to the sock industry.
The obvious would be that the yarn comes from an Alpaca and not a sheep. They both grow fibers that can be farmed to create many different types of products. Just like merino wool they are antimicrobial natural fibers that comes from a renewable resource.
Alpacor® Yarn was created by using a unique patented process for the yarn itself and the yarn manufacturing process. This process blends the unique alpaca fiber with other natural and synthetic fibers.
Many of you have figured out by now that I am a big fan of socks and sock technology. This may seem weird to you but keeping your feet dry comfortable and comfy is extremely important when in the outdoors. Especially if you are on longer adventures. When Testing socks I have several factors that I examine to determine if I will wear the socks again and if I will like them or not.
After wearing the socks during the Hell Hike and Raft adventure as well as a few times since then as every day socks I am comfortable providing a truthful review on these socks. They are very comfortable with the right amount of stretch but also allowing for a snug fit. They are not the fastest drying socks on the market but they also do not claim to be. While wearing them in both hiking boots and trail runners I found that they allowed my feet to breathe and did not leave my feet and socks soaking wet post hike. They did not leave any unwanted blisters or hotspots after wearing them. Overall they are a great quality sock and I am excited to see how Ausangate continues to refine and grow their current sock lines.
To learn more about Alpaca yarn and Ausangate socks please visit the Ausangate website.
Full Disclosure: The Ausangate Socks used in this review was provided to me by Ausangate as part of the Hell Hike and Raft product sponsorship and was provided at not cost to me. This did not influence my review in any way. The views and opinions expressed on this blog are purely my own and were not guided in any manor.
I woke to a very cold morning. It was extremely hard to get out of my very warm anti-hypothermia cocoon of a sleeping bag. Condensation was covering the inside of the tent. I had been woken up by a sound that can only be described as a Harrier jet landing in the camp. This sound only meant one thing. Coffee was being made. I reluctantly but carefully put on my warm layers and clothes for the day. I began to pack up the gear inside of my tent. Once I had everything ready it was time to unzip the outer most vestibule door. I cringed as I pushed the door aside and the warm air was instantly gone and a surge of fresh and clean morning mountain air. I grab a few things and head down to an already growing campfire.
Fresh made to order omelets were on the menu for breakfast plus left over cobbler. When I mean fresh I mean not dehydrated in any way eggs, sausage, and chopped veggies all laid out for us to add to our eggs. The best part about making them is that we put the eggs and other chosen ingredients into a ziploc bag. After the ingredients were mixed thoroughly we simply dropped our “bag o omelet” into a large pot of boiling water.