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Looks Like an Adventure Found Me

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I've been very resistant to the whole "training" idea, just kind of doing my own thing on whatever local trail caught my fancy (I'm very lucky to have a lot of options where I live). I had a vague goal of working up to one of the tougher day hikes at the state park by the end of the summer, but I hadn't thought about it in much detail.


Now, apparently, I'm going to Guam. My boyfriend's mother has just told him that she is flying us both out for a visit as a birthday present, probably in January or February of next year. One of the activities that his family on the island always talks about is "boonie stomping" or jungle/mountain hiking, which sounds like great fun and I want to do it.  However, I have concerns about my abilities, especially since I have very little idea how hiking on a equatorial island is going to compare to hiking in the Ozarks.


My big concerns are elevation changes and heat/humidity tolerance, but I suspect there are other potential issues I'm not aware of yet as well. 


For elevation changes, I can find trails in this area with climbs in the neighborhood of 500 feet. I'm not to the level of doing them yet, but I know there are some nearby and I'm confident in my ability to work up to them. The trails on the island all look to have much more extreme elevation changes though, many in the 700-1000 foot range. Any tips on how to prepare for that? My current plan is to find short trails with modest climbs that I can do repeated loops on, but I'm certainly open to better suggestions. 


As for heat/humidity tolerance, I'm at a loss on how to prepare. Hiking in summer in the South, which was the plan already, will probably help some --- if I'm honest, I've already got a start on it; whoever ordered 85 degree temps and 80% humidity this early in the year, go home, you're drunk --- Whatever I do this summer though, by the time January rolls around I'll have lost a lot of that progress and will be abruptly going from mild winter temperatures to tropical conditions. Any ideas? Would joining a gym to use their sauna help? 


Anything else I should be thinking about to get ready for this adventure? 


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Yes! I'm excited for you, hiking in remote, cool places is one of life's awesome little things. Just getting out and going is going to be the biggest bennefit to you, but there are some things you can domat home as well. Bodyweight squats and calf raises to help prepare your quads and ankles for the stress on the trail and give them strength needed to prevent injury. Also stairs! If your concern d about climbng a 1000' trail start taking as many stair cases as you can. With a goal set for 9 months from now you've plenty of time to get there, but don't put it off!

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Sounds awesome! Repeats on that 500 ft trail will help. If you have access to other bigger ones maybe try it. Maybe plan a mini trip to a bigger one if you have access and are really worried. Do note: though 1000 ft climb sounds scary it really depends on how steep it is. In my area there are several trails that climb 1000 ft that I would consider newbie friendly trails because they climb slowly. I would only not take the elderly, injured, or really unfit people. 


One of the steeper climbs in my city is actually a small mountain/hill in that climbs only about 500 ft. But it does it in about a mile. Many backpackers train on that mountain/hill for big hikes because it is a decent climb. If your 500 ft climb trail gets easy and you don't have other good options start wearing a pack and putting extra weight in it. Just make sure the weight is distributed well by the pack if it starts to get heavy. You don't want to injure yourself, because you are shrugging the load the whole time or something like that.


Elevation changes are mostly are a big concern when you exceed 8,000 ft. That is when you start noticing the effects of less oxygen. But being on an island I don't think that is going to be an issue unless they have some crazy high mountains. So you will just have to worry about the steepness issue so hill repeats should be fine. 


You say you aren't up to the 500 ft climb trail yet. Have you attempted it? How fast does it climb 500 ft? 


Try not to over think it. I say that as the biggest hypocrite on earth, as I am a desert rat planning to go to Machu Picchu in 4 weeks (OMG). You worry about 85 deg with 80% not comparing to tropical conditions? It was 90 today with 10% humidity (wow, I'm surprised it's that high!) AHHH!! I totally get it, but I did find it funny. I had to ask a weather friend if 55-65 deg with 95% humidity would be cold or not. Sometimes there are just things we can't prepare for. I personally just figured the humidity thing is just something I'm going to have to deal with without any preparation. But in a few weeks I can come back and tell you if it turns out to be a huge mistake not preparing for that part.


I haven't used one, but maybe a sauna suit would help? It never occurred to me till now, but maybe that would help. Or just working out with extra clothes in the winter? It might be worth looking up on how to train for hemisphere change going from winter to summer. I didn't have to worry about that with my trip so I have never looked it up.

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I know this thread is a bit old, but from the OP, there's still plenty of time to get ready.


I've done a few up (and down) hill hikes, and I can say without a doubt that it can be done even with starting at fitness level 0.  Elevation change is important in how quickly it changes over trail miles.  500ft in 3 miles is not bad, 500ft in a half mile is something else entirely.  The other thing is how does that elevation change get measured.  Is it overall, like are you 1000ft above where you started when you finish, or is it cumulative with a bunch of ups and downs equaling 1000ft, but really you're only a couple hundred feet above where you were?


Do you have stairs in your house?  Up and down, 2 at a time up, 1 at a time down.  This builds strong legs and helps the cardio.  Once you get to where you can go up and back down 10 times in a row or so, grab a backpack and put a few pounds in it.  The easiest way to do that is to get a few bags of rice or dried beans.  It's way cheaper than a weight vest and less impractical than stuffing a dumbbell in the pack.  Same rules apply after that.  Once you can get a dozen or so trips with 2-4lbs, and a couple more.  My first trip to the Grand Canyon was done in June, so heat was definitely a factor.  I was not in shape, and the above probably saved my bacon.  On my last trip a couple years ago, my hiking buddy was doing 50 trips a day up and down his stair with a full 30lb pack by the time the trip came around.  We practically flew up the trail coming out.


The thing about hiking in Guam is that you'll be lower in elevation above sea level than you are in the Ozarks, start to finish.  The highest point in Guam is only 1300ft above sea level, and the Ozarks have peaks twice that.  If you get some hikes in this summer in Arkansas, it'll probably be pretty close climate-wise to Guam in the winter.


The bottom line is, you can do this.


If I had 3 more pieces of advice to give, it would be this...

  1. Hydrate
  2. Hydrate
  3. Hydrate
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So it's been a while, but there are "mountains" in the Ozarks that are closer to the elevation you're looking for. I know the Ozarks are pretty spread out, but you can't be too terribly far from Mount Magazine. It's the highest elevation in Arkansas at 2,753', and there is a trail that starts near the bottom and goes all the way to the top. It's about 9.5 miles long, 10 if you cross the road and take the park trail to the peak.  Tom Sauk in Missouri is 1,700' .If you start on the Ozark Highlands trail and go to the top of Tom Sauk, you can get significant elevation change. I didn't pay attention to it, but online I found numbers ranging from 920' (likely) to 2,411' (wha? probably not). 

Hunt's Loop is a trail in Arkansas that's a little further (I don't know where you are in the Ozarks) that has 890' elevation change.

If you look at a topo map of the Ozark Highlands trail, there are several sections with over a 1000' change. 

And if you go as far down as Hunt's Loop and want company, I'm game. :)

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