How to Hike Like a Pro (ish)

Don’t Just Fake it.

You probably won’t make it. I was very tempted to not workout before going to Iceland. Blame stress, blame how busy I was, blame depression, it’s all excuses. Should I have prepared more? Yes. However, I did enough to get by on some decent hikes and I have picked up a few tips and tricks since then. I hope some of my advice gives you more of a head start than I had.

Tip 1: Invest in high quality gear.

Cheap hiking boots will fall apart and give you blisters. Cheap socks will fall apart and give you blisters. Cheap coats and pants will fall apart and hey, maybe you can get blisters from those too. I made sure to bring multiple pairs of high quality ATHLETIC leggings and sports bras, WOOL socks, WATERPROOF boots, and GORE-TEX outer layers. Plus, gaiters can help too if your climate is rainy!

You need athletic leggings, tops, and undergarments because they are moisture wicking. When hiking somewhere cold, if you sweat, you’re done for. One bit of moisture will cause you to freeze. Double check your athleisure is moisture wicking. Also, dress in layers. Nothing worse than being too hot or too cold.

Wool socks are probably the most important thing you will need. Wool socks are made for hiking specifically because they prevent blisters and, you guessed it, prevents moisture. I have an issue with seams in my socks so I prefer Bombas – plus they give a pair of socks to someone who is homeless.

Waterproof boots and Gore-Tex outer layers, does this need to be explained? Don’t get wet in cold places. My boots were amazing and I would recommend to anyone at anytime for any reason. So comfortable and kept me dry and warm.

Tip 2: Water.

Make sure you bring water and high protein snacks so you can beat any kind of workout induced fatigue. My favorite is a tube of almond butter and my reusable water bottle. I keep them on hand and close.

Tip 3: Prepare.

Make sure you have a flashlight, extra batteries, map, extra layers, external phone charger, etc. If it’s long or short, best to have the essentials. And trust me, these are essential.

Tip 4: Workout.

Like I said, before Iceland I didn’t do as much as I should have. I am making 2020 my year to tackle some mountains so I have been working on cardio and strength training. Bring a backpack to the gym with some weights while you’re on the stair stepper. Increase your endurance and you will be fine!

Tip 5: Research.

Do you need crampons? Do you need hiking sticks? Where does your trail begin and end? Do you have enough time and daylight? It’s best to be over-prepared. Research for a 2 mile hike will be different from a 14 and different from a multiple day hike. No matter what the trail, you need to know what you’re getting into.

What are your favorite hiking tips or gear? Comment below!

See the Northern Lights

Iceland is Magic.

Seeing the Northern Lights has always been my DREAM. I live in Michigan and I have been trying to stalk them as long as I can remember. Summers on Harsen’s Island spent staring at the night sky, driving an hour north in the hopes the light pollution is low enough, sitting around bonfires in Traverse City checking the Aurora app… It’s been a real obsession of mine.

One of the reasons I wanted to go to Iceland in September is the increased percentage of the aurora borealis having a high KPI index. The week we went, my friend even planned it so we would have a few days with no moon, giving us even more of a chance to see the magnetic ribbons. Another plus for us, not for the environment, was the solar activity. A few large flares occurred which made the magnetic fields even stronger. The first glimpse I had at the most magical site was on the plane to Iceland. While flying over Greenland we got to witness a few minutes of the dancing lights. It was bright and beautiful and filled me with excitement.

I was obviously hoping to see more throughout my trip  but was so seriously stunned, I would have been so happy even if that was it. Somehow, I racked up enough good karma to see them two more times. The third time was in a campground parking lot. It was cloudy, dark, rainy, cold… But we looked up and saw them dancing again for a few more minutes and again, it was pure magic.

The second time was the most incredible. They were so bright I even got some photos of them with the sunset on my iPhone – which getting a northern lights photo on a phone is nearly impossible. Anyway, after driving all day we decided to take the 2 mile hike out to the Sólheimasandur plane crash. Quick history lesson, this is a US Navy DC-3 airplane that was forced to land on the black sand beach after running out of fuel. It crashed and thankfully everyone survived. This happened in 1973 and it was difficult to get to in the past, therefore it remains in place. This spot has become famous to photographers from around the globe because of its unique characteristics and story. This is why my friend wanted to make the trek. I was very interested to see the scene so I excitedly agreed to tag along. We hiked out at sunset, took probably 40 minutes, and in the best stroke of luck, we ended up being joined by only one other couple, meaning all shots with no people. (Helllllls yeah).

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Me at the Sólheimasandur crash

After getting in some amazing light painting, we started to see the streaks. They came up so quick, just as we were saying “I hope we see the lights”. The appeared strong and moving rapidly. Everyone started shooting away and we were so excited when they decided to stay out and play for a while longer. My friend got his shot of the northern lights behind the plane, I got my shot of the lights and the mountains and the beach and the sunset and the plane and myself. You should absolutely check out Taylor’s work also. We were able to take in their beauty for hours uninterrupted and it’s the most beautiful vision I will ever see. The photos will never do it justice but I hope it inspires you to chase these lights.

30 Before 30: 7 down, 23 to go!