How to Get fit for a Yellowstone Backpacking Trip, Part 2

OK, you’ve lost the abdominal basketball, you’ve quit smoking and your probation officer has OK’d your travel to Montana for a guided backpacking trip with Big Wild Adventures. Great! What now?

Hopefully, you won’t first begin to ponder this question right before your trip. That’s because, unless you stay fit year-round (as a shrinking minority of Americans still do), you’ll need some time to get into backpacking condition. Fortunately, most of our clients sign up for trips well in advance, giving them plenty of time to upgrade their physical condition as necessary.

Next move: Visit your physician and get a physical exam. Make sure that strenuous exercise is OK for you. What with an aging population and increasing numbers of folks on Medicare, many doctors just aren’t rolling in the dough anymore. So,  help a physician send an offspring to college — and make sure that you are cleared for backpacking.

Then: Hit the gym. And the track, or the swimming pool or bicycle. A combination of weight resistance training plus regular cardio-vascular work is best for most people. Weight training is important for maintaining muscle mass plus bone density and joint strength. This is especially important as we age. And cardio work will help you to help us maintain our perfect Big Wild record of never having “lost” a client (though there have been a few who we might have liked to at least misplace…).  As we head into year 41, not a single client has dropped dead on a trip, so let’s all work to keep that record intact: this means getting into great shape — and hoping that you are not otherwise doomed by bad genes!

Remember, though, backpacking is not some exotic activity that requires super-human strength and fitness. We two-legged upright great apes are born to walk, and run. Our ancestors have been walking across wilderness landscapes since long before Neanderthals and Cro-Magnons exchanged genetic material in pre-historic Eurasia. It is probably safe to assume that they often carried loads in primitive “backpacks” that were nowhere near as comfortable as those which we use today. If they could do it, so can you! In the next installment of this series, I will discuss my exercise program, especially for the non-guiding season, in order to maintain the level of fitness I need in order to guide and partake in all of my other favorite outdoor activities.

I ain’t no spring chicken. And if I can do it, so can you!

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