Mountain Hiking: 9 Things You Should Know
I started hiking in 2021. Instead of starting with beginner trails such as Ngong hills, I started with Kijabe hills and Sleeping Warrior. I quickly moved on to Aberdare Ranges and though these ranges are termed as hills, I would classify them as mountain ranges.
Not only is the vegetation mountainous, but the Aberdare Ranges form the practice trails for those seeking to hike Mount Kenya. Although there is no special equipment needed to hike the Aberdare Ranges and there’s no bouldering or rock climbing involved, the Aberdare Ranges are a great place to start when it comes to mountaineering in Kenya.
1. What is mountain hiking?
Mountain hiking or mountain climbing is ascending high points in mountainous regions, for pleasure. It’s challenging and may involve bouldering, rock climbing and special types of equipment such as a harness, an axe, microspikes and crampons in snowy and icy terrains.
2. What’s the difference between hiking and mountaineering?
Hiking is traversing moderate to hard terrains and usually takes a day, while mountaineering encompasses hiking tough mountainous terrain. Mountain hiking involves special equipment, scrambling and rock climbing and may often involve camping and hiking for an extended period of time.
Think of hiking as the introduction to mountaineering. Mountaineering poses hire risks in terms of danger and technical difficulties, it’s more costly and will require you to carry lots of equipment and camping gear.
3. Is mountain hiking good exercise?
Mountain hiking has great benefits such as:
- Improving blood pressure and blood sugar levels.
- Boost bone strength and bone density.
- Build strength in your hamstrings, glutes and muscles. Hiking Elephant Hill meant taking lunges all the way to the top.
- The outdoor views and disconnecting from people and devices are also a huge boost for mental health.
Here are some more benefits of hiking.
4. What’s the difference between a hike and a trek?
Hiking is shorter and easier and involves following already established and marked hiking trails.
For example, hiking trails in Kenya are marked with red ribbons to guide hikers and prevent them from getting lost. Trekking, on the other hand, doesn’t conform to established hiking trails and may take longer than 2 days.
5. What does hiking do to your brain?
Any form of exercise is great for the body.
According to Healthline, hiking prevents the loss of total brain damage which insulates someone from suffering from Alzheimer’s disease later in life. Not only does hiking support the health of the blood vessels, but it’s a great way to disconnect and destress which is very important in the brain.
6. What are the disadvantages of hiking?
There are many disadvantages, especially for beginners such as:
- Proper equipment and gear are required.
- Your fear of heights may be triggered.
- It’s very exhausting and you might be sore for a couple of days.
- It may be dangerous, especially for steep and rocky terrain.
I started hiking in 2021 after being cooped up in the house, dealing with the loss of my dad. Nature is very healing and it did help me get in touch with myself. Being forced to focus on the next step while hiking helped reduce my anxiety.
If you’re still new to hiking, focus on beginner hikes and build your hiking confidence from there.
7. How many times a week should I hike?
It depends on you, your schedule and where you live.
If you live near mountains, hiking once or twice a week is possible. But if you live in the city as I do, then you have to adequately plan for it. I hike once a month, and I know other people from the city who hike twice a month.
Again, it depends on you, where you live and what you want to achieve.
8. Is hiking better than the gym?
Splice today has a good article on why hiking is better than the gym.
On a personal level, I choose hiking because I oscillate between under underweight and just the right weight. So I’ve found that hiking and yoga are good ways to keep fit and not have to gain muscles or lose weight.
9. How long does it take to get better at hiking?
Training for a day hike is different from training for mountain hiking. For a day hike, going to the gym or focusing on exercises such as push up, squats, lunges and going out for walks around your neighbourhood will help.
With mountain hiking, you have to combine the adobe exercises with day hikes. For example, people preparing to hike Mt. Kenya often hike the Aberdare Ranges to prepare. There is no distinctive period of getting ready. It all depends on your body and the kind of hiking you want to do.
Hiking is a hard and exhilarating activity. The views are always worth it not to mention the health benefits derived from such a strenuous activity. Plan your hike today!