How to Get Fit for a Yellowstone Backpack Trip, Part 1

Our guided hiking trips in Yellowstone National Park — and for that matter, our trips throughout the American West and Alaska — all require a certain level of physical fitness. The level of fitness required for a guided backpack trip depends upon the trip rating. For example, a “fairly strenuous” trip is going to be more challenging than one that we rate “moderately easy”. Here at Big Wild, we rate our trips as follows: easy, moderately easy, moderate, fairly strenuous and strenuous. Note that for the trips that include the word “strenuous”, you can expect a couple thousand feet of vertical gain with a backpack on one or two days, or, a couple of ten miles or so days, or both. And there will likely be at least some off trail backpacking, too. Not so for the easy to moderate treks.

Nonetheless, all guided backpacking trips require a level of fitness above and beyond that of the average American. In other words, when preparing for a backpack trip, get into the habit of exercising regularly year round, but increase the workouts for the last few weeks prior to the trip.

In addition to working out, if you are overweight, lose the extra poundage! There is a great benefit in not carrying extra weight when you are already loaded with a 30 to 40 pound backpack!  Also, if you are a smoker, give it up! Clogged up lungs will serve you poorly out on the trail! If you are not overweight or a cigarette smoker, please skip to the next paragraph. But first, remember this: drinking in moderation is OK. As Ed Abbey once wrote, “A drink a day keeps the shrink away!”

Of course, getting fit for a backpacking trip entails far more than simply losing weight and overcoming your addictions (whatever they may be). Particularly if you are not fit and active to begin with, it is going to take some work. But it is work that allows you to see the results almost immediately! You’ll feel great! For specifics, please stay tuned for the next installment of this series.


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