Some women like to backpack, some like to camp, some like to hike and some think those are just activities for the homeless. This article won’t apply to that last group.
I’ve always been an avid backpacker. I love the beauty of the wilderness and the connection you can develop with people when you are cut off from the internet and all the random distractions of life. There’s something primal and wonderful about just being in nature with the person you love. I have always thought that hiking for a date was simple and straightforward, but I recently learned that I was doing it wrong, so I thought I’d share some learnings.
1. Pick the Right Distance and the Right Pace
I can easily hike 14 miles in a day, I’ve summited a quarter of the mountains over 14,000 ft in the US. It’s very easy for me to forget that others may not have the experience that I have. The first time I took my girlfriend backpacking I invited a professional couple who had a camping background similar to my own. My attempt to help make her feel more comfortable by including another couple backfired. I spent most of the trip begging the other couple to slow down and pushing my girlfriend to speed up. In the end it was a negative experience for everyone. I hurt both my friends and my girlfriend. In retrospect we should have gone alone and for a much shorter distance.
2. Bring Supplies
This is the space where you have to know the girl. Does she like Doritos or Lychee candy? Will she need 6 liters of water or will one bottle be enough for her? (Emphasis here- my girlfriend needs roughly 6 times the water I need). Are you hiking where it might rain? Do you need hand warmers? Will she need sunscreen? That’s just scratching the list that you need to think through before heading out on your hiking trip. Also, you should assume that you will be carrying this gear, unless you know she expects to split it with you, in which case you won’t want to offend her by suggesting that you should be carrying everything. I’m going to include my packing list below, but you should add or subtract depending on the girl and the destination.
3. Go Somewhere Awesome
The greatest thing about hiking is that you can go truly beautiful places. The summit of Half Dome in California, Punch Bowl Falls in Oregon, Mt. Evans in Colorado and Havasu Falls in Arizona have been some of the most moving places I have ever been. If you’re going to be dirty and sweat together, you might as well be going somewhere earth shatteringly beautiful. This one is going to require some Google-ing on your part and even a phone call to the ranger station, but it will be well worth it.
I’m always on a mission in life and sometimes it’s hard for me to stop and smell the roses. But that is one of the most wonderful rewards of hiking. It’s a chance to detach from our day to day lives and truly enjoy into the beauty of nature. Enjoy your time, stop often to appreciate a beautiful view, hold hands, have a picnic in a unique place. I once didn’t keep pace with my partner- that a huge mistake. Don’t do that! Hiking can be a time to learn new things about each other and experience an adventure!
My Hiking Checklist:
• Map (with protective case)
• Weather Appropriate Clothing (don’t bring sandals to a snow hike)
• SPF-rated lip balm
• Headlamp or flashlight
• First-aid kit
• A lighter or matches in a waterproof container
• Firestarting material (I use dryer lint)
• Knife or multi-tool
• Food for the day, plus extra food
• Water bottles or hydration reservoir
· Energy beverages or drink mixes
· Lunch utensils
· Drinking cup
· Quick-dry towel
· Insect repellent
· Trekking poles
· Route description or guidebook
· Interpretive field guide(s)
· Outdoor journal with pen/pencil
· Bag for collecting trash
· Post-hike snacks, water, towel, clothing change
· Two itineraries: 1 left with friend + 1 under car seat