Hiking in Big Bend National Park
I spent 3 full days wandering around the desert of Texas, in the sun and the heat and it was...fun! I know that for many MSers the idea of walking around in the hot sun without shade doesn't sound like much fun, and in fact, it had me very nervous before I left, but I had a total blast. That doesn't mean it wasn't without issue, it just means I had planned and prepared a lot in order to make sure my hike would be as successful as it possibly could be.
First I started with water. I bought a hydration day pack (think Camelbak) that could hold up to 3 liters of water. Now that is a lot of water but I dehydrate easily so many people might not need that much water and it is important to consider how much you'll need because water is heavy! For me the extra weight was worth the piece of mind that I wouldn't dehydrate out on the trails. If you're hiking in a place that has access to running water then this won't be as much of a concern.
Next was the heat. Granted it was only about 65 degrees outside, but with the temperature combined with a lack of shade and physical activity that meant it got hot fast. I did not bring a hat (because I don't like them) but I would recommend bringing a light weight hat to shield you from the sun. Also a bandana to wet with water and tie around your neck is a huge tool to keeping your body temperature down. At one point during our hike we were doing a lot of uphill hiking and because I'm not in prime shape it was extremely difficult on me. Even though the outside temp was in the high 50's my internal temp was rising fast. I stopped for a couple minutes, wet a bandana and tied it around me neck and almost instantly I could feel my temperature going down and my comfort level going up.
The last two things that I brought with me I think were the most vital. An understanding hiking partner and a lot of patience. There were times along the trail that I had to stop because I would feel myself getting dizzy or overheating and I had a great partner in that they had no problem stopped with me or waiting for me. What I learned the most about hiking is that it really is at your own pace and when I realized I was pushing too hard I just scaled it back and kept on going. I really proved a lot to myself in this trip. At one point we were hiking uphill for about 6 miles and 6,000 ft of altitude and about 3 miles in I wanted to give up. My body temp was too high, I was tired and getting really fatigued and was very close to just saying "I'm done". But I realized that all I need was a break so I took that one and many many more before I reached the top of that mountain. But when I did this was my view!
I feel very fortunate to have been able to hike 30 miles in 3 days! It was a good reminder how helpful exercise can be and that I do know my limits. More importantly it proved to me that I CAN do it! It may take me a while, it may be slow and its definitely not pretty but I can do just about anything I want to do. I know some of us have limitations and may not be able to hike an actual mountain but what is your personal mountain? What is a goal that you'd like to accomplish despite living with MS?
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